A Moment in the Kitchen

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic


A moment in time, when thoughts are on the past, present and future.

Submitted: December 02, 2017

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Submitted: December 02, 2017

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Standing in the middle of the kitchen, I stare at the geometric design on the Formica table. The swirling circles of brown and mustard yellow a forgiving mistress in concealing a lifetime of coffee rings, cigarette burns and the etched initials of an old love.

A testament to a certain chaos, the surface is littered with prescription bottles and newspapers. A spoon, resting against the ivy pattern of a milk glass cereal bowl disappears beneath a bloated mass of Shreddies. The only clue that she has been here recently is the lipstick smear on the china cup half full of beige oily liquid. I pat the stained tea cozy covering the pot and it is cold to the touch. 

Belly tightening, I turn and walk to the sink. A gentle breeze lifts the curtains and as they blow inward, my fingers capture a piece of the fabric. Decades of sunlight have bleached the once vibrant red, but the pattern of vintage toasters and coffee percolators still bleed through the cotton. A dark ugly memory streaks through the quiet as I recall the day my mother hung them for the first time.

"Oh, I do think they add a bit of color to the room, don't you Katie Cat?"

A shame filled recollection of lost words and the feeling of intentional cruelty are all that remain.If it was my goal to inflict pain that day, the irony is that I now live with the scars. Every time I look at these damn things I am haunted by my weakness and reminded of my Mother's strengh. I let the material slip free, half hoping they will disappear with the outgoing wind. 

It's too quiet. Where did she go?

I hate the sound of my own heartbeat. Right now, it's echo battles the clock hanging over the stove.The ticking reverberates loudly off the walls and I notice that the absurd hands in the shape of a knife and fork are stuck at ten to five.  Worse than silence, it's inexorable pulse is like a countdown letting us know that although change has not managed to make it's way past the blue gingham walls, it's occupants will not fair as lucky.

I go to the alcove and turn on the radio. The familiar click of the worn knob lights up the greasy face and as Johnny Mathis croons softly, my eye catches the elf figurine sitting on the open shelf.

His impish smile and cross-legged pose always pissed me off. He was a part of every Christmas I can remember, but now sits here year-round useen and without purpose. I can see where someone has taken the time to glue his legs back on after breaking from a fall and I wonder at his stamina and longevity.  Worthless, but entrenched in memory, perhaps this is how he has survived all these years. I suppose he has earned the right to reign over this corner of the kitchen and as I dust him off and place him back, I feel a certain begruding respect towards this elder.

Perhaps it is a certain madness, a trick of the senses or the way the shadows are dancing on the linoleum floor, but I can feel the pull of the past calling me and it has my mother's voice.

The sound of gravel on the driveway draws my attention and my anxiety level is dialed back when I see who is getting out of the car.

Moments later I hear the screen door slam and her voice call out, "Katharine? "

"In here Mom" I holler.

She is wearing the blue raincoat she bought for herself at Eaton's. One pocket is torn, the other, swollen with tissues. Her pajama pants are tucked into rubber boots and fossil like footprints trail behind. A mass of grey hair is sticking up in rooster fashion and one lone curler still clings to her scalp.

"Look what I picked this morning!" she says, smiling so wide her eyes all but disappear. I kiss her soft cheek, taking the flat of strawberries from her arms. I can feel where her gaze slips to and prepare myself...

"Not hungry this morning Katie Cat?" she says looking down at the unfinished breakfast.

I don't have the heart to tell her it's not mine. I can't, not when she still smells of sunshine and earth. When her cheeks and nose are still pink from the cool air and her bent fingers are stained red. Later perhaps, but not now.

I bring the dirty dishes to the sink and wash away the unwanted mess. 

"So Mom, I guess we are making jam today?"

 

 


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