Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: SKULDUGGERY (09/01/16)
TITLE: My Mother Trickery
By Ellen Carr
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Mum kept our family of six well fed and clothed. She made sure that we caught the school bus from our farm to the school in town. She patched our scratches and dried our tears. Mum did all that she could to make sure we were happy, and we were. Somehow, with all she had to do, Mum kept things rolling along, and all with good humour. There would often be an extra mouth or two to feed, or even a whole team of shearers. They were happy days, simple days.
Our Sundays were special. There was church in the morning, Sunday school in the afternoon and and then an evening service. And in between there was always a Sunday roast and a scrumptious Sunday tea with a delicious chocolate cream cake.
“Two slices each,” Mum would declare, and we knew better than to sneak an extra one. If Mum didn't notice someone else would, and someone would miss out. Mum always sliced the cake and counted the slices for absolute fairness.
One of Mum's few indulgences was spending Sunday afternoons on her own. Dad was a Sunday School teacher so when he and the rest of us had trooped off to Sunday School and peace descended on the house Mum would breathe a sigh of relief. She would grab a book, put her feet up and usually drift off into a nap.
But that all changed when the Raines, an elderly couple, moved in next door,. Their house was a couple of paddocks away, but just close enough for Mrs Raine to keep an inquisitive eye on our comings and goings.
Now, my mother was one of the most hospitable people you could imagine, and if we didn't have visitors at meal times we'd likely have visitors for afternoon tea. Out would come the dainty cups and saucers, along with plates of scones and cakes. So naturally, when Mrs Raine showed up on the first Sunday afternoon, Mum invited her in for a cup of tea and spent a good couple of hours chatting to her before Mrs Raine decided it was time to go home. No time for a nap that day.
Sometimes Mrs Raine came on a Saturday when we children were home. Plump and roly-poly, she would waddle in and sit herself in Dad's chair. We would listen in as she chatted with Mum, overstaying her welcome as usual. Then, after she had lumbered out we would take delight in impersonating her. We would copy the way she walked and the way she talked. We nick-named her "I'll Say" because whenever she agreed with anything Mum was saying she would respond with “I'll say.” Mum, true to form, told us to stop being so rude about Mrs Raine or face the consequences, and we knew what they were.
Soon Mrs Raine took to visiting Mum every Sunday afternoon, and it was this that led to my discovery. I realised that my virtuous mother could practice deceit.
Back then, in the fifties, we wore our Sunday best on Sundays. For women and girls that meant wearing a hat, even to Sunday School. So, on the Sunday of The Great Deception, at precisely 2.15 pm, Mum donned her best Sunday hat and walked down our side path, the path Mrs Raine could see clearly as she peered out her window. The rest of us trooped down the path into the garage and squashed into the car while Mum crept around to the front door, well out of Mrs Raine's line-of-sight, and slipped back into the house for a quiet, uninterrupted afternoon.
My mother, the paragon of virtue, had tricked Mrs Raine. I was shocked. My mother had another side to her. She was willing to engage in a bit of skulduggery for the sake of a quiet afternoon on her own.
As Dad drove us off to Sunday School we roared with laughter.
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