Story Excerpt From “Second Helpings” ~~ Unopened by Marie James

Second Helpings
An Anthology of Holiday Recipes and
Short Stories
From Authors of
Second Wind Publishing

Second Helpings

A perfect gift for short story lovers and food connoisseurs!

From sweet childhood remembrances to fanciful solutions of family dramas to romantic relationships that begin–or end–during the holidays, Second Helpings is an anthology of stories and memories, but most especially of recipes. Our end-of-year celebrations are occasions that bring reunions with unforgettable feasts and that one special, treasured dish. At the end of each story, vignette, reminiscence, you’ll find a recipe or collection of recipes that will make your next holiday memorable as well.


Marie James

“Are you a gambling man?”

Josiah thought the voice was coming from his own head. In the midst of the department store’s holiday bedlam, words echoed and bounced like sound at a Super Bowl game. Mothers and fathers shouted to be heard. Children screamed like banshees as they ran unchecked through the crowds of last-minute holiday shoppers. Store clerks looked like prisoners serving out the last few hours of their Christmas sentences.

“Don’t take a chance, son,” the same voice seemed to whisper in Josiah’s ear. He turned and was almost nose-to-nose with an older gentleman. Grey-haired and bespectacled, the old guy met Josiah’s stare with a twinkle in his eye.

Nah. The twinkle was a reflection of the winking lights strung throughout the store. The old guy’s expression was serious as he admonished Josiah.

“Excuse me?” Josiah snapped a little more forcefully than he meant. His nerves were worn from the late gift buying. Every year it was the same, though: Janine bought Christmas gifts starting the week after the holiday while Josiah waited until the week—or usually the day—before.

Janine took care of the gifts, the cooking, the decorating and everything else associated with yuletide. The only thing she asked of Josiah was not to have to buy her own Christmas present. She was already responsible for her own birthday and anniversary gifts. She put her foot down years ago about being her own Santa Claus.

“That’s the worst perfume in the world,” the old guy said. “I used to buy it for my wife, but I didn’t know she hated it until after she died and I found over four dozen bottles in a box in the basement.”

A look of sadness crossed the old man’s face. “Look in your basement, son. I bet you’ll find a box of the ‘unopened’ in a dark corner.” He patted Josiah on the shoulder as he continued. “Find out what’s in her heart, son. Don’t let your holidays die like I did.”

With that, the old man turned away and was lost in the crowd. Josiah pushed his way to the counter as an opening appeared in front of him. With a frozen smile on her face, the cashier rang up his purchase. As he backed away from the counter, the crowd surged forward to fill in the empty space he’d left.

Josiah fought his way out of the store. On the bustling sidewalk, he watched as harried men and anxious women hurried from store to store in search of gifts to appease their conscience.

Why in the world did that thought cross his mind? Josiah had always been a good provider and a considerate husband. His wife and children wanted for nothing. He worked so they could have a comfortable life. Why did he suddenly feel guilty?


Second Helpings is available in print and all ebook formats from Second Wind Publishing.

One Response to “Story Excerpt From “Second Helpings” ~~ Unopened by Marie James”

  1. Sheila Deeth Says:

    Intriguing. This sounds like a really good collection.

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