"Dessert" by Tina Ontiveros

The call has gone out for submissions to the next Wordstock Short Fiction competition, but wait! I still haven't finished writing about the last round of finalists. I left off just as I got to "Dessert."

I begin with four questions:

Ever been married?
Ever had a kid?
Ever had sex?
Ever tried all three?

Actually, the fourth one is the only question that really matters in Tina Ontiveros' "Dessert," a story that gets its dramatic juice from its ability to make us married-with-children types squirm.

The set-up for the story seems completely innocent: A couple's daughter is going to attend a friend's birthday party. Watch the tension build, though, as the three of them--mom, dad, and Olive (the child) unwittingly compete to get what they want out of the scenario. You'll have to read the story to see where it goes, but don't be surprised as each scene elevates the drama and builds toward the inevitable, er . . . climax.

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