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May 2021 Contest Winner: No Sweets

I place my hands on my hips, studying the poster with determination. “Alright,” I

say. “Day one.” I must follow through—I promised I would. But thousands of hours of

mental training would never prepare me for the final battle: Grandmother’s house. It’ll

only be for a day, Jane. You’ll be fine, Jane. I scoff at the memory of my parents speeding

away, leaving me to fend for myself on this suicide mission. Only sheer luck will save me


Broccoli, whole wheat bread, grapes...the images on the poster taunt me with

their verdant colors. Right in the middle was a warning highlighted in bright red: NO

SWEETS. “Okay, just have to follow this. And no sweets. No sweets...” I repeat. The

mantra drones in my mind over and over until it lulls even my ruthless sweet tooth into


Outside, some sparrows nestled within the trees cheer me on. I turn around with

renewed confidence and grasp the doorknob. No matter what happens, just follow the

poster. Opening the door, I march towards the dining room.

The large table lays bare—the perimeter seems secure for now. When I least

expect it, however, an alluring scent infiltrates the room. Intuition warns me that the

long, hard battle is just about to begin.

I sneak towards the kitchen and peer around the corner. The room is dim. I can

only see the silhouette of the perpetrator. Its demure figure stirs ingredients into a pot,

humming an entrancing lullaby. I hold my breath. The figure must hear me coming

because she stops stirring and turns around.

“Lunch is coming along. Would you like to help, dear?” she says with a smile

plastered across her face.

As I come closer, I can see my nemesis clearly. Her thin, graying hair is wrapped

into a sharp bun. Her seemingly gossamer hands grasps a worn wooden spoon, a deadly

weapon lying in wait. The scent of cinnamon sticks to her deceivingly innocent spring

dress. Grandmother.

I fire back an artificial smile. “Sure, I would love to!” I lie, hoping she won’t be

able to detect the strain in my voice. Her eyebrows raise in suspicion as she adjusts her

small, thick-rimmed glasses, but she doesn’t seem to suspect a thing. She gestures

towards the steel cauldron.