Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: STIR (11/12/15)
- TITLE: Mom's Way
By Francy Judge
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Dad says that's ridiculous. Nobody has a not-gonna-eat-these pile. But I say, “I do. Why don’t you try to cook like Mom does?” My not-gonna-eat-these piles are much smaller when she cooks. Mom always talks to me while she stirs the ravioli around and around until they float at the top like mini beach balls.
“Carolyn…nine-year-olds need to eat their dinners to grow strong and healthy. Look at your sister. Chloe doesn’t have a problem with my cooking. She’s eating.”
“That’s ‘cause she’s only five. She don’t know raviolis are not supposed to get stuck together. I’ll eat healthy when Mom comes back.”
Dad looks down at his plate and clears his throat. “Your mom had to go back in the hospital…so she won’t be home for a couple of weeks. We’ll have to do our best without her. Okay?”
Chloe’s mouth is all pouty and her eyes look full of tears. My throat feels like I swallowed a golf ball. “Is it the cancer again?”
Dad nods. “It came back, but she has great doctors. They said they’ll make her all better. They know she wants to come home to her beautiful daughters.” He smiles, but I know he’s not happy.
I take a bite from my not-gonna-eat-these pile. “I think I’m done now.”
After I clean up, I go upstairs to get ready for bed. In mom’s mirror cabinet, I find her favorite perfume, Dior. I like the fancy bottle in the shape of a teardrop. I spray it on my wrist and wipe it on my neck like Mom does when she wears a dress and goes out to dinner with Dad. I close my eyes and hold my wrist to my face and lie down on the bath rug. I’m so tired.
Mom stirs a pot of wildflowers in boiling water until all the daisies float to the top. She leans over the steam and says, “Carolyn, come smell the perfume I made. Isn’t it lovely?”
Before I answer, I hear Chloe. Bang, bang, bang. “Hurry up. I got to go really, really bad. You’ve been in there forever.”
After Chloe and I brush our teeth and get into our beds, we call dad to tuck us in. “Mom always reads to us. Here.”
Dad says, “Charlotte’s Web. That’s a great book, but first let’s pray for Mom.” He prays for God to heal her and bring her home soon; then he opens to where Mom left off and reads in funny voices. We laugh when he does his best Wilbur voice and imagine the farm until the words mix with our dreams.
For two weeks, Dad has made us breakfast, and sends us to school with weird lunches, like bologna with mustard on hamburger rolls. I don’t tell him that I only eat the apple and cookies. At night he makes dinner and reads. We are almost done with Charlotte’s Web. And I miss Mom so much. My stomach hurts.
On Saturday, Dad has to do food shopping and chores, so Aunt Linda stays with us for a few hours. She is always fun. Today she says I can make brownies all by myself and surprise Dad. I read the box and get out the eggs, oil, and mixing bowl. I crack the eggs perfectly. Not one piece of shell falls in the mix. I pour half a cup of oil and three tablespoons of water, and stir real hard. It’s thick and creamy, and smells like the best chocolate ever.
I hear the door shut. “Oh no. I didn’t finish before…” I turn around.
“Can I help you? That smells delicious!”
“Mom!” I hug her in a big bear squeeze. “Are you better?’
“I feel tired, but I should be fine. Dad said you girls have been such a help. I’m proud of you both.”
Dad joins the hug, and Chloe blurts out, “Mom, you really need to teach Dad how to cook.”
Mom puts the brownie pan in the oven, and the house smells like heaven. I thank God for answering our prayer.
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