Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: RASH (04/12/18)
TITLE: Mother-in-Law's Tongue
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“Why don’t you say something, Mummy?”
Jamie glanced at Nana, then at his mother, and back again. Even at five years old, he could feel something he didn’t like. It was like a sort of fog had come into their little kitchen spoiling his earlier happiness when she had arrived unexpectedly.
Jamie knew that their kitchen was not like Nana’s. Even her little table where he had his meals when he stayed with her was like a mirror. And he wasn’t allowed to play and mess about in Nana’s kitchen.
“You pop outside and make the most of this lovely sunny morning, Jamie,” Carole said.
The moment he slammed the back door, she busied herself loading the dishwasher with the plates, dishes, and cutlery piled up on the worktops. Her mother-in-law sat silent on the faded chair in the corner.
“Why did you make my little man go on outside?” Brenda said.
Without turning from her busyness, Carole said, “I didn’t want him to hear any more of your rude comments about our home, Mother.”
“Well, I don’t mean you’re a failure, Carole.”
“OK, so why comment on my great piles of dishes at all?”
“Well, you know me. It just slipped out,” Brenda said.
The quiet mumble of the dishwasher helped to restrain Carole’s urge to hit back.
“Anyway, would you like coffee or tea this morning?”
“My usual, Carole, and without milk, if you can remember.”
A few minutes later, they stepped out into the sunny garden, much to Jamie’s delight. He ran over to them as they settled on the old bench. “You OK now Mummy?”
“Yes, dear, and Nana’s brought you a pack of crayons to use in the Easter holidays.”
Jamie glanced from his mother to his nana. “Thank you, Nana,” he whispered, hoping the fog had not crept into the garden. He dashed back into the kitchen with his new possession.
Carole was aware of Brenda’s eyes probing every detail of the flower borders and Dylan’s patch.
“Hasn’t that husband of yours even started with his veggie plots?”
Carole didn’t say a word.
“Spending all his time up at the golf course, I suppose.”
“Or fiddling about on his computer.”
“Brenda, can I say something?”
“I’m not stopping you, girl. Carry on.”
“Did Dylan ever tell you about the problems he’s having with his work?”
“He probably did,” Brenda said, “but then, he’s always had problems with work ever since he was the size of your Jamie.”
Carole slowly sipped the last of her coffee. She gazed up at the white puffs of cloud sharing their peaceful blue sky.
“Brenda,” she said. “On Sunday, in that weird little church, as you call it, Dylan and I heard a wonderful sermon. Mike urged us to be careful with our tongues, and especially not to rush into saying what we think. He ended with God’s warning in the Book of Proverbs: ‘Death and life are in the power of the tongue.’ It was a great challenge to both of us.”
Proverbs 18:21, NKJV.
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