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Something Practical

“Something Practical” by Melody Burris was a finalist in the 2012 Four Centuries of Mormon Stories contest. It was originally published online at Everyday Mormon Writer on October 20, 2012.

Art by Jeremy Telford, "Scout Alone"


On Saturday May 2nd the Cub Scouts will be having a fund raiser in the primary room. For just $2 a piece, the Cubs will paint a unique design on any glass casserole dish or piece of crockery. I’m sure we all can see the value of this. I doubt there are many of us who haven’t left a dish or two after a ward function. I was just in the kitchen the other day and the stack is getting pretty high again. So, please check the kitchen for your dishes and then support our pack this Saturday from 11 to 1.

Thank you,

Sister Smith and Pack 147.

The next ward party…

Sister Jones walked along the table admiring all the new patterns that adorned the 9×13 pans. There was a colorful striped dish with the scant remains of a red Jell-O salad. There was a dish with polka dots that was empty except for a little cheese in the corner. There was even one with delicate looking flowers painted in a lacy pattern that held half of a green bean casserole. Truly, it was amazing to think that the Cub Scout pack was gifted with such wonderful artists.

She noticed a pan that seemed to have no painting on it. It was nearly full after the entire ward had gone through the line. She couldn’t help herself—she had to see who it belonged to. Looking around to make sure no one was watching, she lifted the pan to see if a name was on the bottom. There was no name but under all the food there did seem to be something. As she sat the pan back down, a smiling Sister Walker approached.

“Is everything okay?”

“Yes,” Sister Jones said a little embarrassed. “I was just wondering who this pan belonged to.”

“It’s mine. I must say it doesn’t seem to be very popular. I guess tuna casserole is a bit overdone.”

Sister Jones forced a smile, “Oh, I’m sure it’s delicious. Tell me what is that painted on the bottom of your dish? I couldn’t quite see it. I was just admiring the handy work of our Cubs; so talented aren’t they?”

Sister Walker smiled even bigger. “You have no idea. They’ve made dinner time so much more enjoyable.”

“Oh, how so?”

“Well, it’s silly really. The day they were doing the painting I waited in line for some time because the sisters in front of me insisted on standing over the boys and giving them detailed instructions. The poor Cubs looked so bored that I took pity on them. When I gave them my dish, I just told them to use their imagination. I went off to the mother’s lounge to nurse Britney and when I came back it was ready. It was the best thing I ever did for my family dinners.”

Sister Jones lifted the dish again trying to get another look at the bottom while she listened.

“The first night I baked my tuna casserole the kids moaned, as usual. I have such picky eaters, but as everyone was served they could see that there was some kind of picture underneath. It was the first time ever that they all asked for seconds just so they could see it.”

“But what is it a picture of?”

“A severed head.”

Sister Jones recoiled and the pan thudded against the table. “That’s revolting.”

“True enough, but it seems to do the trick. I was so delighted I took a stack of my dinner plates to the last Cub meeting so that they could work their magic. I’m hoping my kids keep gobbling down those seconds. Our Cubs are real problem solvers.”

Sister Walker placed her toddler on her hip and wondered further down the table. After she was gone, Sister Jones took a big portion of tuna casserole from the middle of the dish.

About the Author: Melody Burris is located in western Iowa. She manages a complex household of distracted adults, moody adolescents, and hyperactive children. She likes to escape into the realities she creates in her stories. Aside from writing, her hobbies include Korean dramas, exercising, avoiding laundry, reading, and spending time with family.*

*Author information as of the publication of this story.

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