Toot-Toot! I froze. I peeped around the curtain before full scale panic mode engulfed me. Pulling the plug on Oprah, I kicked the cat off the sink and stuffed crisp packets down my top.
“Oh… hi mum,” I trilled as I opened wide the door. “Hi dad.” I planted a kiss on both cheeks. “I wasn’t expecting you ‘til twelve.”
Dad glanced at his watch. “We’re five minutes late.” He said dryly. Gasp… shame on me. Had I really watched daytime TV for one whole hour?
I’d learned how to handle in-laws from a friend at work. “Keep calm and carry on.” She’d say. “Don’t let ‘em ruffle your feathers.” Sound advice, but she hadn’t married her man yet. There was no claim on ownership rights.
It was mum who got up my snout most though. He was just as downtrodden as I was--poor thing. But he never uttered a bad word. And let’s be fair, she meant well… I think.
She dumped my ironing pile on the table and sat down… briefly. She had an aversion to bum on chair. She claimed it made her legs go dead, but I knew different. In five minutes she’d have a bum rush to the bathroom, just to see how clean (or otherwise) my loo and shower tray was.
“I’ll be off to the get the car serviced then.” Dad turned and winked as he went through the door. He was no mug.
“Your appointment’s at three.” She said. “Why don’t you go earlier and do some shopping.” My neck was turning crimson. She wants me out of the way, I thought. Keep calm and carry on: “Thank you.” I smiled sweetly. I rang my friend from the car.
“And she’s even organising my shopping trips now.” Bev’s such a good listener. “She’s fascinated with my dust. Theirs gets zapped before touchdown. And coffee cup rings… don’t even go there.”
“You’re not being a tad oversensitive?” She asked.
“NO!” I yelled. I headed for the supermarket.
I was slightly late for my doctor’s appointment. Punctuality and me don’t gel. I knew super-mum in-law wouldn’t be late to meet my little Laura from school. Dad was in the garden pushing his granddaughter on the swing when I pulled up outside. I took a deep breath and opened the door… freaked, and slammed it shut.
“Bev.” I hollered into my phone. “There’s washing on my line!”
“Cool.” She said.
“She’s stripped our bed. Our bedroom… his mother in our bedroom… ew!” Bev stifled a belly laugh. I was mortified. I stomped up the path, flung open the door and hollered up the stairs: “What’s the matter with you? My sheets were changed last week. Were yours?”
“Alternate days dear. I like to keep things sweet.” I took the steps in three strides. A full scale rant was hissing upwards from my toes, looking for the way out: “You,” I pointed my finger, “listen to me. This is our house, mine and MY Jack’s. If I don’t measure up to your ridiculous, obsessive standards, tough! Get a life. I’m not devoting mine to wielding a feather duster and picking crumpet crumbs off the carpet. Got it?” With that I promptly burst into tears.
“How did the appointment go?” She asked. Oh, THAT WOMAN! Wasn’t I the one who should have the unruffled feathers? “I’m helping so you don’t overdo things.” She said. I glanced briefly at the coy face, before haring back down the stairs.
“Bev, you won’t believe this… she’s tapped into my head now. She knows.”
“Reckon it’s time to tell Jack then.” She laughed.
“But how could she know? It’s not confirmed yet.”
“Try asking.” She said. And so, cap in hand and shame faced, I climbed the stairs and found her… in the spare room. She had a big soppy look on her face.
“I was just visualising the cradle under the window again.” She sighed. Me too.
“How did you know mum?” I asked.
“Well,” she said. “Overnight, the sweetest daughter in-law I could hope for grew a dragon’s head. Hormones, I presumed. Today she told me she had an appointment with the dentist; such a whopper.” I stared at my toes.
“You knew I was lying. But…”
“You left the dipstick on the bathroom floor!” The blood rushed to my cheeks. “A place for everything… and everything in its place, dear.” She said with a satisfied smile.
There was an awkward silence before we both fell about laughing.
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