Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: OVERLOAD (10/06/16)
- TITLE: Just One More
By Terry Bovinet
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Jane refused to allow family members, her husband and three teenage children, access to her treasure trove. She organized, cataloged, and determined placement in the house, on the house, and in the yard. Except for the lights on his roof, she made Clark Griswold look like a rookie.
“Heading out! Anyone need anything?” With freshly clipped coupons in hand, she hustled to the car.
None of the family members responded. Long ago they realized her questions contained no real intent as she didn’t want any trivialities to detract from her missions. She would return with the once empty trunk now bursting with new recruits for her festive lineup.
Occasionally, Jane would throw away some well-used or no longer functional items. This only served as a reason to replace them with additional purchases.
She loved the advent of gift cards and purchased several from various stores at a kiosk as they would suffice for presents. She did go to the trouble of finding adorned envelopes and would stuff them between branches of the tree. Each family member would receive only one envelope since they did detract from her extensive handiwork with tinsel or twinkling lights.
“Why do you do this every year, Mommy?” the youngest quizzed.
“For the family, of course. I want a perfect house for you.”
“But we don’t care about it as much as you do.”
“Don’t be silly, dear. Everyone loves it!”
Even in her youth, she realized her mother did not actually listen to, or refused to listen to, her concern.
“We’ll order pizza again tonight. I must get these new ornaments on the trees as they fit perfectly with the rest of the décor. I may need to take the entire tree down and start all over again!” She said this with a thrill in her voice that unnerved her husband, but he realized her resolve and did nothing to dissuade her.
“No pizza. Dad’s cooking again!” he declared. “Anyone want to help?” The two youngest rushed into the kitchen and the three started meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and green beans.
“I love this meal! So, good! Thanks, Dad.”
He smiled at his middle child and handed her a spatula to mix the meatloaf – a task she enjoyed when all the sloppy ingredients came together into a perfectly shaped whole.
Jane, oblivious to the merriment in the kitchen, decided the mantle needed a facelift to fit the new arrangement of the tree.
“Dinner!” her husband proclaimed with the tantalizing aromas of their preparations announcing its completion.
“Go ahead and eat without me. I just want to finish up here. It won’t take long,” Jane proclaimed with determination in her voice. The other family members knew enough not to argue, sat down, prayed together, and dug in.
Even with the happiness of their shared meal experience, a certain sadness enveloped them as the matriarch bustled about the great room out of their field of vision, and for this moment, out of the flow of their lives.
With plates emptied, table cleared, and dishwasher started, homework called the children. Dad picked up a book that he had started just two days ago and would finish that night. Another unread book sat on his end table that he would absorb next as plenty of alone time awaited him in the days to come. After all, Christmas day approached and rather than a decorating cease fire, another decision to redo the tree, or the lights outside, or the snowmen in the kitchen would take precedence over all.
In bed that night, he wondered aloud. “Jane, do you decorate for us or for you? You thoroughly enjoy it. We barely tolerate it. Don’t you think you go just a little overboard?”
“Oh, be quiet. You know the family insists that I do it. Now, go to sleep. I need to think of a plan for just one more light outside. Maybe two.”
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