(What If? Exercise: Read the description here.)

Mama said not to touch the cookie jar. I should have listened.

I only meant to take one. I didn’t think the jar would be so heavy.

I tried not to cry while Papa yelled at me in the kitchen. It was scary how his angry voice always carried through the house. The whole time, Mama was there cleaning up the porcelain shards and cookies scattered across the floor. She never said a word.

Papa sent me to my room, said I would stay there for the rest of the week. Only when I closed the door behind me did I finally open my right hand, where the stolen cookie rested half-broken in my palm. I’ll never forget eating it.

I remember the sweet smell of day-old dough as I finally heard Mama’s voice downstairs, telling Papa he had been too hard on me. I remember the taste of oatmeal filling my mouth as he yelled that she was always too soft with us. I remember the crunch of hard chocolate chips between my teeth as the shouting and crying grew louder. I remember swallowing the final bite just as the sounds of crashing and shattering glass pierced the night. And I remember picking the last crumbs off my shirt as I heard the front door slam. Salty tears marred the sweetness of the chocolate as Mama’s sobbing echoed through the house, the only sound I would remember hearing for the rest of the night.

It’s been five years since Papa left. I haven’t had a cookie since.


This story is based on What If? Exercise 41: “Peter Rabbit and Adam and Eve: The Elements of Plot”. The exercise is to write a story using four basic plot elements: a prohibition, doing the prohibited, personal/immediate consequences, and long-term/authority consequences. The objective is to become aware of common patterns in storytelling and to understand the importance of basic elements that underlie plots. I hope you enjoy what I’ve written. Thanks for reading!

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