Bolting through her mother’s front door unannounced, flushed and out of breath, Irene’s newly married daughter Julie flew into the living room.
“Oh mom, I think Eric is truly going to kill me. Seriously, I’ve never seen him so angry. He was swearing and even said he was going to kill me.”
Dazed by Julie’s entrance and now stunned by her disturbing claim, Irene nervously responded, “What? My Lord honey, what’s happened?”
“He was in a lot of pain when he said it mom, but you know those flues the power company is installing up the highway along the river?”
“Yes, is that where Eric worked today in this stifling heat?”
“Yeah and when he got home he told me that he had this really bad rash in the seam of his backside from sweating and that it had started to bleed. Then he had the nerve to say, ‘I think I should go see if my mom can help because I don’t want to go to the emergency room.’”
Well, I wasn’t having it, so I told him, ‘Don’t be silly, I’ll just put a cornstarch paste on it. That’s what my mom used for years for diaper rash with all of us kids and grandbabies.’”
“So did you?”
“Well, yes and no. I was able to apply the paste to most of the rash but before I could finish he started screaming, ‘Bleep…it feels like I’m on fire now.’ Puzzled, I just told him to go get in the shower and rinse it off.”
“Oh that poor boy, he must have something else going on because the cornstarch shouldn’t have made it burn like that. Is that when he said he wanted to kill you?”
“Oh no, it gets worse. When I saw him running up the stairs stark naked gripping his cheeks, I went into a fit of laugher. I couldn’t hold it in mom and kept telling him I was sorry.”
“Did he respond?”
“No, he just slammed the door, which made me laugh even harder.”
“Julie, please don’t tell me you were still laughing when he got out of the shower, I think I would’ve wanted to kill you too.”
“No, by the time he finished his shower, I had discovered why the paste made him burn and was actually feeling a little panicky.
I decided to go check the cornstarch to see if something was wrong with it. Like you mom, I had it labeled in an airtight container along with all the other powdered stuff in the kitchen. When I opened it, I didn’t smell anything out of the ordinary, so I took a spoon and dabbed a tiny bit on my tongue to taste it and was horrified.”
As Julie continued, laughter overcame her, making it impossible for her mother to understand anything else she was saying.
“Julie, for heaven’s sake, stop laughing, I can’t understand you.” Julie tried desperately to repeat herself clearly but the laughter overshadowed her words once more. However, this time Irene did make out baking soda and unwillingly succumbed to joining her daughter in guilty laughter.
Drying the tears from her eyes with her apron, Irene asked, “And?”
“When he came out of the bathroom, I went upstairs to the bedroom and sat on the bed across from him. He told me he wasn’t getting much relief from the shower. That’s when I sheepishly told him what I had done but stupidly, I started to laugh again. That’s when his burning came back vigorously and so did his temper.
He called me the “B” word and painstakingly reached across the bed towards me but I jumped up before he could reach me. That’s when he said, ‘I’m going to kill you for this,’ but he couldn’t even stand up from the pain, so I took advantage of his disadvantage and high tailed it out of there and over here.”
Chuckling, Irene compassionately told her daughter, “Honey, we both know that swearing and wanting to actually hurt you is completely out of character for Eric. Truthfully I can’t blame him, but knowing Eric, he will be remorseful when he’s out of pain and apologize to both you and the Lord.”
“I’m sure you’re right mom, but we both know he’ll never ever trust me to take care of him again.”
Erupting into a final symphony of giggles and chortles, both Julie and Irene were unexpectedly jolted from their humorous feast by the doorbell. It was Eric.
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