Belle walked to the staircase, again. “Alma, you’d better be cleaning your room. Don’t make me come up and stand over you to get it done right.”
Belle mumbled under her breath as she walked away. “That girl isn’t ever going to amount to anything. Can’t even clean her room.”
Belle sat down and picked up her sewing again. Her head was cocked, listening for sounds of industry upstairs. Her needle went in and out against the darning egg as the hole in the sock quickly disappeared.
Belle got up again, this time she heads for the kitchen. Drawers open and close as she rummages through them. “Now where did that wooden spoon get to? I’m gonna whup her good if that room isn’t clean.”
Slamming the drawer shut, she heads up the stairs. Her breath coming hard; the stairs seemed to be harder to climb than they should be. Belle didn’t bother knocking, she just yanked open the door to Alma’s third floor room and advanced, fist shaking. “Alma….”
Belle stood there, staring at the dust covered boxes. Her eyes trying to take in what she wasn’t seeing.
A tall, beautiful woman, hair lightly streaked with silver that accented her beautiful coloring, approached Belle from behind. She carefully put her arm around Belle and slowly turned her back to the stairs. “Come back downstairs.” She murmured gently.
“Alma! Where’s Alma? Why isn’t she cleaning her room?”
“It’s okay, why don’t you come back down to the kitchen? I’ll make us a cup of tea. You’re out of breath from climbing these old stairs.”
“I want Alma.”
“Yes, I know, momma. You have her. She’s all grown up now, remember?”
“Grown up? No, no, she’s just a young’n, not even tall enough to reach the top shelf in the pantry. I still have to get down the ingredients when we bake our favorite tea cookies. Why isn’t she cleaning her room? I’m afraid she just isn’t going to amount to much, you know. She’s just not a worker, always got her head in them books. Not that readin’s bad, but girls need to know how to clean a house.” Belle continued mumbling about Alma, but the words seemed to blend together, not quite distinguishable.
Together they made their way back down to the kitchen. Belle sat at the table, her attention caught by the plate of cookies that was being set before her.
“Momma, here, have some of our special tea cookies, while we wait for the kettle.”
Belle reached her age spotted hands towards the platter, managing to pick one up without crumbling it.
Ring! Ring! The answering machine picked up the call as the two women sat there.
“Hello, you’ve reached Dr. Alma Richards; I’m not available right now, so please leave a message.”
“Mom, can you pick up please? I really need to talk to you for a minute.”
Alma quickly reached over and picked up the phone, eyes crinkling with pleasure. “What is it sweety? How’s that beautiful granddaughter of mine?”
“She’s why I’m calling, is it normal for babies to teeth this early? She’s only three months old, but she’s just so fussy and drooling constantly. Mike says he thinks she’s teething. So I thought I’d call the resident family pediatrician and get her opinion.”
Alma and her daughter continued discussing the baby, while Belle quickly devoured several more cookies. “Sweetie, I need to go, Momma’s having another bad spell, and I need to take care of her. Give that darling a kiss for me, okay?”
Alma reached over and moved the platter out of Belle’s reach. “Momma, I think that’s enough cookies for right now. What kind of tea would you like this afternoon? Orange Pekoe?”
Alma went through the ceremony of making tea, while Belle looked on, watching with eyes that seemed to see much more than just her daughter and the teapot.
“I have a daughter, you know. She became a famous doctor. She’s written several books! But I never get to see her any more, I miss her.”
“I know, Momma, I miss you, too.”
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