Mother-in-Law Talk - 11/23

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Re: Mother-in-Law Talk - 11/23

Postby ShaunaG » Fri Nov 26, 2010 5:48 pm

The Chicken Curse

I vaguely heard the phone ring over the gentle trickle of the shower. I was in a trance as I washed the remnants of the day from my body and mind, could almost see the tension slipping down the drain with the water.

"Goddammit" I muttered as I reached for the towel, quickly dried myself, and ran down the hall to the phone in my bedroom.

"Hello?" I huffed.

"Oh, hello Melanie. I was expecting Chad...Oh well, no bother. I was just in town visiting Julia and Mark, and I thought I'd pop in and pay you a visit" Gloria preened innocently - too innocently.

Gloria was my husband's very strange mother. She insisted that even though Chad was thirty years old, he was still her baby chick, and therefore, her responsibility until her dying day. She was also a self proclaimed Wiccan, and was always sprinkling me with powders, or anointing me with oils, and chanting strange incantations when we would come to visit. It really creeped me out. Her and I had never gotten along. Despite my husbands constant reassurances, I always felt that she didn't care much for me, and was sure that she was attempting to curse me. She came to Huntsville often to visit her daughter Julia, and her husband, but rarely stopped by to visit us. Everytime we spoke she would gush about her darling daughter, doting son in law, and their two beautiful children. I know it was juvenile, but, it put me off a bit.

"Ok" I replied. "Chad is still in the office, but he'll be home in about twenty minutes. Would you like me to put something on for supper?"
"Oh, oh goodness no. I'm not planning on staying that long." Her words oozed honey. Her statement couldn't have been more double sided if she tried.
"Ok Gloria, see you soon" I said throught clenched teeth and hung up.

As I dressed and dried my hair, I couldn't help but feel a little unsettled about this particular visit from Mother Megawitch (as I often called her in conversations with my closest friends). Something was up, she never came to visit.

Chad arrived home shortly before his mother arrived.
"Your mother called a few minutes ago. She said she's on her way over for a visit. She'll be here any minute." I forced a smile, but Chad didn't buy it for a minute.
"Mel, come on. You're way too suspicious. Mom loves you. How could she not. You're smart, charismatic, and not to mention stunningly beautiful. Anyone with half a brain can see it. Are you calling my mother stupid?"
I giggled, slipped my arms around his neck and drew him in to a deep kiss just as the doorbell rang. I sighed, drew in a deep breath and crossed the livingroom to answer it. In my nervousness, I must have opened the door a little too quickly, because Gloria seemed a bit suprised. She quickly recovered, and stretched her lips across her teeth. This was her pathetic attempt at a smile, but she looked more like a snake ready to pounce on it's prey. Despite her off the wall lifestyle, she always looked very polished. Her slender five foot frame was dressed conservatively in a black pencil skirt that lay several inches below her knee, and white silk blouse. Her steel silver hair was pulled back so tightly in a bun, it looked as though it was pulling back her mouth in to an even more thin line than it already was. Her small, close set black eyes discected me despite her attempt to look pleasant.

"Hello Mother Gloria, come on in." I tried to beam.
"Hello Melanie" She blurted back, and pushed past me to Chad.
"Hi Mom" Chad's smile widened as his mother reached him, and he bent down to give her a hug, and kissed her on the cheek.
Watching Chad hug his mother was very strange. It was almost hard to believe that she had actually given birth to him. Chad was almost six feet tall with a very muscular build. He had thick, chestnut hair that he always kept ear length, and olive skin. His face was angular and masculine. His mother on the other hand was very small, but had the same angular face as her son. However, unlike him, she did not possess those dark impish eyes that served to soften Chad's face, and almost made him look like an oversized child.

Once they had finished greeting, Gloria turned back to me, and handed me a rubber chicken that she had pulled out of her purse. "Here, I thought you could sell this in your joke store." She stated in a condescending tone. Being a so called master of the dark arts somehow made Gloria feel that she could mock my profession whenever the opportunity presented itself.
"Actually, it's a Magic Shop, but thank you." I retorted as I accepted the strange gift. I noticed that the right leg was missing.
"What's up with it's leg?" I asked, confused
"This was Chad's favourite toy when he was young. He played with it all the time, and lost a leg somewhere along the line. Otherwise, it's in very good condition. You always were quite the jokester weren't you baby?" She gushed at Chad. Chad said nothing, just stood there and smiled.

I invited Gloria to sit on the sofa in the livingroom, and excused myself to make us some tea. I was grateful for the escape. When Chad had asked her what had spawned her visit, she said something about wanting to get to know me better. But that didn't sit right with me. Gloria had never cared much for getting to know me. In fact, whenever we went to visit, her reaction to me ranged from indifferent to down right hostile. She had actually told me once that her son was too good for me, and it was just a matter of time before he realized it. I was beginning to feel a bit ill.

Once back in the living room, I noticed that Gloria had a rather deep cut on her arm just above her wrist, and decided to ask her about it. She brushed it off saying that she was "just doing some good fortune spells", but I didnt' buy it. She was up to something.

On her way out, Gloria hugged and kissed her son, then turned to me. I was very taken aback when she opened her arms inviting me to embrace her, but decided to surrender. Maybe she did have a change of heart, and finally wanted to get to know me. I couldn't be so lucky. She pressed her mouth to my ear "Thanks for giving me what I needed to curse you dear. Do yourself a favour and just leave right now. Oh, and if you tell Chad anything, you'll just make it worse for yourself." I pushed her back appalled at her gusto, and ran up to my room. What a vile, horrible woman. I didn't take much stock in her witchcraft, but, I had to admit I was a bit frightened.

As weeks passed, my luck dwindled in to downright misfortune. Business declined at "The Little Magic Place", I stubbed my toes constantly, and a branch had even fallen on my car one night, which was very strange considering that there wasn't so much as a gentle breeze. I told myself that it was just dumb luck, and not a curse. However, driving home one night from work, I was in a horrible car accident that put me in the hosital for several months. I realized that Gloria's curse was real, and the only way to stop it was to give her what she wanted as much for Chad as myself. I couldn't live with myself if he was hurt as a result of a curse that was put on me.

As soon as I got out of the hospital, I left without saying good bye to my darling Chad. How could I tell him what his mother had done, and break his heart even further. As soon as I left, my luck changed immediately. Business picked up, I actually won a brand new car in a draw that I didn't remember entering, and I even fell in love again with a man who had a very normal mother. As for Gloria, I never saw her or Chad again. I did think about him every now and again, and hoped that he had found someone who his mother wouldn't feel compelled to curse if she was still alive.

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Re: Mother-in-Law Talk - 11/23

Postby eternoxamante » Sat Nov 27, 2010 3:49 am

Let me start by saying that Lucian hadn’t seen his mother in about seven years when she showed up at my doorstep. They were in constant contact, e-mailing each other pictures and talking about their lives, but not once did she call or offer to come and see us. I offered to fly her up to New York City once, offered to let her stay with us or put her in a hotel if she preferred, all from my own pocket, and she refused it. I figured that, when he and I got married when I was sixteen and he was nineteen, we wouldn’t have to deal with the Wraths.

But there, she was, standing at my door way.

Lucian was just as shocked as I was when he saw her. He was the one who answered the door; I was cleaning out the closet in the living room, and I asked who it was. When he didn’t answer, I turned my head to look and I recognized her from the few times that I’d seen her and from the pictures that she’d sent. Her long, blonde hair fell to her mid-back, and it looked like a mess. Her blue eyes looked tired, with bags underneath them, and her face was wrinkled with many, many years of pain and sorrow. She let herself in, moving past Lucian and looking around. She scoffed at the artwork on the walls and the picture that we had of the two of us on our “wedding”, (he and I prefer to call it “the signing of the hitched document”, because that’s really what it was,) and she reached into the pocket of her coat, searching for something.

“Mother,” Lucian had never called his mother mom; not that I’d ever heard, anyway. “what are you doing here?”

“I can’t come see my son and his,” She looked over at me and scoffed, reaching back into her coat, “husband”?” Was she insulting me? “I’m sorry it’s so late, but I brought you both a little wedding present.”

“It’s about six years late, mother. Elliot and I have been married for six years.” Lucian was handling his mother like a child, and I wondered why. I stood up and closed the closet door, deeming it a job for another day.

“Why are you here, Mrs. Wrath?” I asked, suspicious of her intentions.

“Can’t I get to know my son in law?” She pouted her lips at me, and then looked back at Lucian. “Six years? My, my, my. And how long did you and Elliot know each other before you got married?” Questions that she’d never asked over those e-mails. She was still searching her pockets for that thing. Either that, or she was touching whatever she’d found. I wasn’t sure.

“About three years.”

“And how old is Elliot?”

“He turned twenty-two last month.” Lucian walked towards me, a cold look directed towards his mother.

“You’re twenty-five. Shouldn’t you be dating people more your age? Women more your age?”

“Lucian and I are only three years apart.” I snarled. “And what does it matter-!”

When my tone changed and grew rough with her, she took the object out of her pocket and threw it as hard as her scrawny arms could at our wedding photo. Stunned out of words, I watched the glass shatter and the frame with the photo fall off of the all. I looked at Lucian and at his mother again.

“I hate this,” she pointed at me, “this thing for taking you away from Springfield! I don’t want you married to him any more! Get a divorce! Get a divorce right now!” I rushed over to the photo, and I picked up the object. A rubber chicken with it’s foot cut off. I looked at her. She was in hysterics, and her jacket was falling off of her boney shoulders. There was a large gash on her right arm. “He’s an abomination! He’s not even fit to be a man! If you want a woman, get a woman! I don’t want to believe that your father was right when he says that you turned out bad!

“Mrs. Wrath, your arm-!”

“Shut up!” She screeched, glaring daggers at me, wishing me dead with her eyes. She looked back at Lucian. “Your father hurt me so bad, Lucian.” Was she referring to her arm? “ It hurt when he kicked you out… when you had to live in that hell hole, when you had to go to jail… come home, and it’ll all be better. I’ll make it all up to you. All you have to do is leave this sinner and marry a real woman and be normal.”

She sounded like Lucian’s father. I looked over at Lucian. His fists were balled in rage, his eyes watering, his whole demeanor changing. It was as if he hadn’t taken his Anhedonia medication. I thought for a moment. He had taken it, right?

“Elliot, escort her out.” Lucian looked at me, trying to contain his anger, but I could almost feel it radiating out of him. “I’ll start cleaning up the glass, and we’ll go get another frame for the photo tomorrow.” Not once did his gaze leave his mother. “It’s about seven years too late for you to show up and make demands like that, mother.” He turned on his heel and went into the kitchen. I assumed that it was to cry alone, as opposed to in front of us.

I stood up and handed his mother the rubber chicken. She took it and stared at it for a long time. “Lucian used to play with this when he was a little baby. Before all of this happened.”

“Lucian hasn’t been a baby for twenty-four years, Josephine. All of this happened less than ten years ago.” I whispered, putting a hand on her back and leading her out. She followed like a lost lamb, frightened and feeling alone and small. I knew the feeling well. “And I’m sorry I’m not the in-law that you wanted, but I’m the one you’ve got. You’re going to have to learn to get over it.” Once she was outside, I walked back inside and closed the door, locking it and leaning against it. My next mission was to go into the kitchen and make things with Lucian better. I walked in there and found him facing the back window, hands on the counter, head down, shoulders shaking. I walked up to him and hugged him from behind.

“It’s a shame we don’t have family over more often.” I joked.

First he sniffled. I figured he didn’t take his medicine, so I let go and walked over to the cabinet that we kept the plates and medication in. As I was reaching up for the pills, though, I heard a snicker, and then a chuckle, and then a whole-hearted laugh.

“At least it wasn’t your family.” Lucian laughed.

“Hey, knock on wood." I smiled, "They're probably next."

((I'm sorry it's over the word count TT^TT))

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RE: Mother-in-Law Talk - 11/23

Postby pkaushik » Sat Nov 27, 2010 4:34 am

Standing at the door, a short stout dark middle-aged woman with grey hair said, “I am your mother-in-law.”

Even though I had been married to Nilay for over 2 years, I hadn’t seen his mother but in pictures. Right before our marriage, he told me he did not want me to meet his mother. She was his step-mom who he believed had murdered her father. “How?” I had asked. He was in engineering school in India when his father suddenly died. Doctors said it was a heart attack but some foul play was suspected when his step-mom hugely benefitted financially from his father’s death. Rumors went she had been slowly poisoning her husband. When Nilay reached home from school, they were almost cremating his father’s body. Nilay told me, “I couldn’t do anything at the time. Autopsy was not done. She had destroyed all proofs.” He left India there and then. “I’ll never see her face.” He had vowed.

I looked closely at the deep brown eyes staring at me and assured myself, the woman did resemble the one in Nilay’s family pictures. I was alone at home and did not know what I was supposed to do. Turn her away as my husband would have done or be polite and hospitable as a daughter-in-law should have done. After thinking this over I said, “Nilay is not home. Do you want to come inside?”
She nodded and walked in behind me. She looked tired. I wondered when did she come to the US?
She had a banana shaped laceration in her right wrist covered with clotted blood and she carried a rubber chicken with only one leg in the other hand. When she sat down, I asked, “There is blood on your wrist. Should I get something to clean it?”
She looked at her right hand as if she was seeing it for the first time, “Oh this. It doesn’t bother me.”
She thrust the chicken into my hand, “This is for you and Nilay.”
I was confused. Do they give such gifts in India? An old worn rubber chicken with only one leg was my first gift from my mother in law.
She suddenly stood up, “I have to go.”
I told her Nilay would be home soon and she could meet him. She said she had a very important work to do and had to leave immediately.
And as mysteriously as she had appeared from nowhere, she vanished.

After she had left, I felt stupid I didn’t ask her where she was staying in the US or even for her phone number. Nilay had told me not to mention her name in the house but I felt I should let him know of her little visit. What if he wanted to meet her? After all they had stayed together for ten years before his father had died. He might have had some good memories of her.
When Nilay came home, I hovered around him. He looked up at me as he was removing his shoes and smiled, “What is the matter? Why are you following me?”
“Your mother was here.”
“What?” He jumped.
“Your step-mom I mean. She came to visit us.”
“Are you out of your mind? This is impossible.” He was sweating.
I sighed, “Now Nilay, I agree India is bit far and she is a bit old but it is not impossible for her to come here.”
Nilay was swaying his head, “No no. You don’t understand. I didn’t tell you this but she died last year.”
A chill passed over me, “What?”
Nilay said hoarsely, “Yes. My uncle, her brother, called me a few months back from India saying she committed suicide last year. She lacerated her wrist.”
I fell into the sofa and vaguely pulled out the rubber chicken lying on its side and pushed it towards Nilay, “Whoever it was, she gave me this for us.”
Nilay shrieked, “This one legged chicken! It used to be in her bedroom. I always wanted to have it and she did not let me touch it. She would tell me, I could have it after her death.”
He collapsed on the ground holding the chicken close to his chest.

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Re: Mother-in-Law Talk - 11/23

Postby Ab0utTheAuth0r » Mon Nov 29, 2010 5:32 am

^Nice ending... i received a slight cold chill :)

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Re: Mother-in-Law Talk - 11/23

Postby Ab0utTheAuth0r » Mon Nov 29, 2010 5:32 am

^Nice ending... i received a slight cold chill :)

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Re: Mother-in-Law Talk - 11/23

Postby rbrooks » Tue Nov 30, 2010 8:10 am

Jack Yager's days had fallen into a simple rhythm since the plant closing. After Jeannie and the kids left for work and school, he sat, unshaven in underwear, at the kitchen table drinking coffee, pen in hand, doodling on the morning paper's want ads, trying to conjure a job. It hadn't worked so far. At noon each day he'd make a fresh pot of coffee and begin adding a dollop of bourbon to each cup he drank through the long afternoon. By the time the kids got home, he'd be ready to face life.

It was on one such day, just as he was making his noon coffee, that a knock came at the back door. Putting aside the percolator, he drug across the kitchen in sock feet and pulled aside the door's small window curtain. Jeannie's mother stood on the tiny back porch, wearing neon pink curlers, an Eisenhower-era house coat in faded blue, gigantic fuzzy slippers and a glassy-eyed stare. Yager opened the door and stepped back. She shuffled past him without a second glance. Like she owned the place.

"Jackie, just look at this, " she said, turning toward him extending a one-legged rubber chicken. She bore an odd cut on one arm and her smile was a bit off-kilter. Yager, still holding the door open, tensed, waiting her out. Surely there'd be more. There wasn't. Obviously it was his turn.

"Archie McPhee order come in?", he said. She loved to get mail order crap from the gag store in Seattle. Why? He had no idea.

She let the hand holding the chicken drop to her side. "Yeah, but it's got a leg missing."

"Um hm", said Yager, closing the door and returning to his coffee making. "I guess quality control ain't what it used to be in China. What happened to your arm?"

She sat down at the table, apparently ignoring the question. Yager wondered if she was over-medicated or under-. He tried to remember which had been worse in the past.

"We need a plan, " she said, "A plan to get some money."

Yager plugging in the coffee pot, moved across the kitchen and sat down across from the old lady. "Okay." He looked at her expectantly.

"What about we rob a bank?"

"Sure, " he said, "just put on some halloween masks, go park in the bank's parking lot, walk right into a place with a hundred cameras aimed at us, grab a bag of money, then walk out, get into our car and drive home through traffic as the money explodes and paints us permanently smurf-colored. That what you suggesting we do Emily?"

She looked out the window at nothing in the middle distance. "You always were a glass-half-empty person, Jackie."

Yager rapped the table with his knuckles. "I will give you one thing, though, you're right about us needing a plan." He leaned back in his chair and crossed one knee over the other. "We definitely could use some money about now." They'd never been what you could call friends, but times were tough and now was no time to let past differences get in the way of surviving.

He glanced at the coffee pot which was perking along merrily and then turned and studied his mother-in-law a moment. He uncrossed his legs and leaned onto the table with his elbows. "Emily, what's up with that cut on your arm?"

She looked at it. "It's only a scratch. Mittens scratched me this morning while he was opening the Archie McPhee order."

"I'm sorry...what? Mittens, your cat right? He was doing what now?"

"He was opening the Archie McPhee box that came in the mail." She held the chicken up and wiggled it before dropping it back in her lap.

"That cat can open a sealed box? How does he do that?"

"I trained him to use one of his front paw claws to slice through the tape all around the top and, well, I got anxious to see what was inside so I helped him and he wasn't happy with me."

"Hm. Emily, what else can that cat do?"

"Well, let's see." The old lady tilted her head and looked at the ceiling a moment. "He can fetch a ball and do back flips and he talks a little."

"He, uh, talks a little?"

"Sure, he can say 'Good morning, mama' real clear and we're almost done learning to sing 'Happy Birthday To You'."

Yager sat up straighter. "Emily, " he said, smiling for the first time in a long time, "I think we just might have ourselves a plan here."

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RE: Mother-in-Law Talk - 11/23

Postby Hudge » Wed Dec 01, 2010 2:51 pm

Dr. Phil stopped writing and held his pen just above his last entry. "Your mother-in-law has never liked you very much, so when she comes over and says she “wants to get to know you better,” you are instantly suspicious. You are convinced that that isn’t at all what she wants, and you decide to play detective and find out what is going on. The first things you notice are that she has an odd cut on her arm and that she is carrying a rubber chicken that is missing a foot. Is that right?"

I settled back on the leather sofa. "Sounds right."

"How do you know she never liked you?" he asked.

I thought carefully. "Okay. I don't know. It's just a feeling."

"And could that feeling make you instantly suspicious? Or do you have a valid reason for being suspicious of her?"

"Well, she..." I was about to tell him her facial expressions made me think she wasn't trustworthy, but decided against it.

"Go on," he said.

"I mean, why did she wait so long to get to know me?"

"When would have been a better time?"

I had to think about that one. We had just moved near her after living across the country since we got married. She only came out long enough for the wedding, then had to hurry back because her controlling boss wouldn't give her any more time off. "I guess there wasn't a better time. But what about that chicken? Who carries a broken rubber chicken around?"

"Did you ask while you were playing detective?"

"No. That would be too obvious."

"Obvious that you were suspicious?" He stopped scribbling and looked at me. "Did she say anything about it herself?"

"She said she found it outside under a bush!" I sneered to think any fool would believe that.

Dr. Phil's face was a solemn stone. "And is that possible?"

I sat up, my face blazing. "The scratch on her arm! She didn't know how she got it," I blurted. "I thought she was lying about that too. It was still bleeding! It had to have just happened! She cut her arm pulling the rubber chicken out from under the holly bush!" I sprang to the door babbling about calling my mother-in-law and apologizing. I turned to wave at Dr. Phil just before I shut the door behind me. He was smiling.

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RE: Mother-in-Law Talk - 11/23

Postby ChristianC » Wed Dec 01, 2010 6:16 pm

Any feedback welcomed. Made some small changes to the prompt. Hope you enjoy.

"My mother wants to take you to dinner, Mike" said Rachel hesitantly.

"I am not going anywhere with that woman"

"Mike, it's different now. She's getting better. She just wants to get to know you a little."

"Rach, she believes in voodoo. She isn't any better."

"You are going, Mike, and that is final" Rachel exclaimed.

Rachel's mother, Loraine, showed up to the house at around 7:00 to pick-up Mike. Loraine was courting Mike as if she was picking him up for a date. When Mike answered the door Loraine extended a box. Mike opened it and found it to contain a rubber chicken. Loraine explained that when practicing voodoo it was best to use a doll that did not look like a human to avoid suspicion. She went on to tell Mike that if he was ever interested in voodoo she could teach him everything, including how to practice it and how to thwart it. Mike pretended to be thrilled at receiving the gift, but as Loraine turned to head outside Mike rolled his eyes and tossed the chicken away.

The dinner went rather smoothly. Rachel took Mike to an Italian restaurant where the only form of lighting was the small, flickering candle on your table. Conversation between the two varied from topics about Rachel, the weather and Loraine’s progress in treatment. As they both sipped an after dinner coffee Mike noticed something seemed to be bothering Loraine.

"What's wrong?" Mike asked.

"I really want you to trust me that voodoo is real, Mike. It truly is important to me that you don't think I am crazy."

Mike became angry.

"Loraine, when you start talking about voodoo I cannot think anything else."

"I'm not crazy!" Loraine screamed as she slammed her hands down onto the table breaking her glass.

Everybody in the restaurant turned and looked at them. Mike was shaking with anger. Neither Loraine nor Mike noticed the cut Loraine had sustained on her arm that was dripping blood all over the white tablecloth. The manager came over and asked that they both leave the restaurant.

"Way ahead of you, sir and don't worry about giving me a ride home Loraine I think I'd rather walk"

Mike stood up and stormed out, forgetting to pay for his pasta. Loraine stood up and paid the manager for both of their meals with a slight smirk on her face. She walked back to the car and pulled out a rubber chicken that was identical to the one she gave Mike. Meanwhile, Mike was walking on the shoulder of a busy road. Little did he know a blue van was coming right at him. The driver of the van was turned around paying attention to his dog. The driver quickly forgot about the dog when he felt a bump causing him to slam on the brakes.

"poop unicorns and rainbows" he said as his heart pounded.

The driver took a second to collect himself before getting out, to check the damage he thought was caused by a deer, when he noticed a pair of glasses sitting on the hood of his car. He grabbed his phone and dialed 911. Paramedics arrived at the scene and began working on Mike who had just been hit by a van traveling 50 mph.

Next thing Mike knew he was waking up. He looked around wondering where he was.

"Welcome back, Mike" said a man wearing a white lab coat.

"Where am I?" asked Mike.

"Bayside Hospital. A truck hit you. We had to operate on your leg and work to stop some internal bleeding."

"Am I alright?"

"You will be, but I have some bad news"

"Oh no, what is it?"

"We were not able to save your left leg"

Mike was fitted with a false leg and had to learn how to walk all over again causing him to endure 14 months of physical therapy. Today he was on his way home after being in the hospital for more than a year. After getting out of the car he hobbled to the front door and let himself in. After getting over the initial excitement of being back he plopped onto the couch. Rachel walked in and handed him a box that held all of his mail. She hadn't opened one thing without the words Bill Enclosed stamped on it while he was in the hospital. One package caught Mikes eye. The package looked similar to the one Loraine had given him the night he was hit by the van. He decided to open it first. The package was filled with newspaper and a letter on top. The letter read:

Dear Mike,
I told you it was real.
You should have listened to me.

Mike was baffled at the meaning of the letter, so he began digging around in the newspaper to see if there was some sort of clue in the package. He came across something and pulled it out. Mike was so shocked at what he saw that he didn't even have time to scream before fainting. Rachel came running after hearing the crash of Mike’s body hitting the ground. Lying there was an unconscious Mike holding something in his hand. Rachel walked closer to see what it was. She had no idea why, but Mike was holding a rubber chicken with his name scribbled on the forehead and it's left leg missing.

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RE: Mother-in-Law Talk - 11/23

Postby Still Magnolia » Thu Dec 02, 2010 4:24 am


My mother-in-law was the personification of the meaning of the word mother-in-law. All the dread stories that were ever told about the woman who gave birth to your husband could easily have been told about Bertha. No, that is actually her name… Bertha Marie St.Claire.

In these parts, one would describe her as a tall, raw-boned woman of solid structure. She wore a constant frown that never turned up into a smile. When meeting her, one’s eye would follow the frown straight up to the grey knotted bun she wore on top of her head, like crown. At which point then, the eye would drop like a rock to those tacky orthopedic shoes that fit her like combat boots.

When my husband took me to meet her for the first time, he warned me that she was ‘brash’ and forward. What he meant was that if she had a thought in her head it passed through her mouth without benefit of a filter. Nothing endearing ever came out of that woman’s mouth, either for me or for her son. And he never mustered the strength to confront her. I had 21 years to listen to her complaints, opinions, or suggestions as she called them before she passed on to wherever mothers-in-law go at the time of their departure.
Forgive my insolence here, but on the day we buried her, I could not help but wonder if she would go south rather than north. That thought passed through my brain without benefit of a filter, I fear.

I was never afraid of her. I tolerated ‘Mrs. St. Claire’, as I was directed to call her, because I love her son. I am blessed that he took after his father, rather than his mother or I would have never become the second Mrs. St. Claire. And that, dear readers, is a fact. I never used her first name in front of her, but behind her back I never referred to her as Mrs. St. Claire, either. It was just my way of sticking my tongue out at her and getting by with it. A small victory.

As her illness took her over it affected her mind, as well. She began bringing me small gifts. Useless gifts as they were, but gifts none the less. I would smile and say thank you and then hide them in one of my dresser drawers. Bertha would say that she wanted to get to know me better and that we must have tea and cookies and chat. How could I refuse to ‘chat’ with her, she was after all, my mother-in-law. These tea chats continued for several weeks and the gifts kept coming, one after the other, filling up my drawer with broken plates, cracked bowls, and a glass dog that had no head. Each gift she brought would be stranger than the one before. Our chats became starring sessions. She sat, drank my tea, ate my cookies, and starred at me. She never said a word; just starred. After we had gone through weeks of chatter less chats and gallons of tea I could no longer take it.

I stood up and with hands on my hips; I said “Mrs. St. Claire, I can abide any more of these tea chats with you. I can not abide the starring. None of it. Do you hear me? I can not abide this any more. I must invite you to leave.”

Never moving or batting an eyelash, had she replied, “For weeks I have brought you broken gifts, useless, broken gifts and for weeks you have accepted them and hidden them away. I wanted to see if I could break you, too. And see, there you stand with your hands on your hips ordering me out of my son’s house. I broke you, after all. You took it for weeks and I finally brought you. Now, I can prove to my son how broken and useless you really are and he will leave you and come home to me. But before I go I have one more gift for you. You see, I cut my arm trying to get it down off the scarecrow. This is what you are… a broken chicken.” Her laugh would have raised the dead as she threw a stupid one legged rubber chicken in my face.

It was then that I truly broke. I exploded in anger and broke my beautiful antique tea pot over her head. And it felt great!

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Bradley St Paul
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RE: Mother-in-Law Talk - 11/23

Postby Bradley St Paul » Sat Dec 04, 2010 2:13 am

***DISCLAIMOR: I love my actual mother-in-law and this in no way represents the real person. This is only a comedic (albeit a poor one) attempt to entertain people.***

“Mom called,” Cindy said one lazy Sunday morning.

“Yup,” I said in automated response to my beautiful wife, not bothering to look up from the Beavis and Butt-Head reruns.

The rolled up magazine swat upside the head got my attention. “She called, dear, because she wants to visit.”

“Great,” I said. “What movies are playing?”

“Oh, no, you’re not getting out of this one. She asked specifically if you are going to be here.”

“Weird. I got the impression that she didn’t like me.”

Cindy folded her arms over her chest, “She only hit you with that frozen TV dinner because she forgot to take her medication. Well, that and you have an infuriating habit of putting your foot in your mouth. She just wants to get to know you better. So, the two of you will get some bonding time alone.”

“Maybe we should come up with a safe word.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Cindy said.

“Let’s use “doughnut” just in case.”

Cindy glared at me. There was no getting out of it. In the two hours I had until my mother-in-law arrived, I showered, hid all the frozen entrées and bought a cup.

The doorbell rang and her thin silhouette stood behind the frosted glass of the front door. I could hear Taps in the distance as the door squealed open and I invited her in.

“Why, thank you, sugar,” she said in a thick Southern drawl. We’re from Iowa. As she handed me her bag, I couldn’t help but notice a poorly bandaged gash on her forearm.

The minutes ticked uncomfortably by as we sat in silence, her quietly staring at me and me trying to judge if her pupils were different sizes. I couldn’t take it any longer, “So, how are the shock treatments going?”

Cindy was right about my ability to insert foot in mouth. I could all but feel another frozen dinner coming my way.

She twitched slightly and said, “I’m going to cut to the chase, sugar.” She was still using the drawl. “You love my daughter, right?”

“With all my heart,” I said, beaming with pride.

“And you wouldn’t try to hurt her, would you?”

I honestly didn’t know if she was talking to me or the rubber chicken that was poking out from her sweater.

“Of course not,” I said. “Is that a friend of yours?” I said with a nervous laugh.

“He was,” she said, pulling it out and sitting it in her lap. “Charlie here was once a dear friend,” she said, petting it like a cat. “But, we got to arguing earlier and he attacked me with one of his talons.” She held up her arm and displayed the cut.

There was sadness in her eyes. “So, as punishment, I removed the offending appendage.” She held up his severed leg. “You see, Brad,” she said, staring intensely into my eyes, “When something or someone hurts me and mine that something or someone must be dealt with.”

Preprogramming the word ‘Doughnut’ into a text on speed-dial was probably the best idea I’d ever had.


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