Mother-in-Law Talk

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. Write this scene.

Post your response (500 words or less) in the comments below.

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One thought on “Mother-in-Law Talk

  1. kathleenmagner

    After filling both mugs, Alice set the kettle on the stove. The narrow spout spurt an extra whistle, making her shoulders drift even further toward her ears. Inhaling a calming breath of chamomile and Earl Grey, she clasped both mugs by their handles and tiptoed to the kitchen table.

    “So, what did you want to know?”

    She placed the chamomile in front of Rebecca, seated stock-still at the head of the table. The older woman laid her manicured fingertips around the warming ceramic, heat or steam seeming to plump her dried skin. The supposed comfort, however, failed to ease the tension in each blanched knuckle.

    “The little things.” Rebecca drummed against the mug, her rings clinking against the police department’s shield. “You’ve been with Jake for what? Eight years now and I’m not sure I really know you.”

    “It’s only been six actually.”

    Alice sat across from Rebecca’s purse where a rubber chicken poked out from the zippered opening. Peering at the toy’s beady eyes, she wondered if the chicken wanted a cup of tea too, perhaps with something stronger added. She reached for the sugar bowl instead, although her fingers itched for the whiskey in the cupboard.

    Rebecca hummed, the disapproving sound she made when someone corrected her. “Six? It’s been so long it’s hard to keep count without some solid dates.”

    The jab at the lack of a diamond on her own hand washed over Alice, sliding along its well-worn route. “It’s up to me and Jake to remember. I wouldn’t expect it of anyone else.” She dumped a teaspoon into her mug, and then briskly added another two.

    “I didn’t know you took sugar with your tea.”

    “Just Earl Grey.”

    Rebecca laid a hand on her forearm, the toasting from the chamomile seeping through the sleeve of Alice’s sweatshirt.

    “See Alice, it’s those little things I feel like I’ve missed picking up. I mean we live so close and see so little of one another.”

    “You and Mr. Garther are so busy—”

    “Bah, you make time for family. Family’s blood.”

    The visceral edge to the statement made Alice shiver. Visions of stained clothes and dirtied implements swirled in her sight, reminding her of the files waiting in the spare bedroom. Taking a sip, she hoped the tea might ward off the nag of work and leave Rebecca room to find a point to her rambling.

    Rebecca cupped her mug again. “What I’m saying is, when things get tough, family is who you can depend on. You’ve been with Jake long enough, you’re one of us.”

    Alice couldn’t decide whether to be flattered or insulted and settled for the space in between. The foundation seemed cracked, however, and she crept onto it with delicate steps. “Are things tough, Mrs. Garther?”

    Rebecca’s bubbling laugh hit an octave Alice didn’t think the former cantatrice could reach any more, and then the other woman’s gaze plummeted into her tea.

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