Posts tagged “parents

Guiding Light, Chapter 12

Posted on 01/12/2015

Mashing sweet potatoes was all Phoebe’s mother allowed her to work on, she was much too distracted for anything else. Sentenced to the breakfast nook with a bowl, a pound of boiled sweet potatoes and her Aunt Belinda’s potato masher, Phoebe got to work. In the kitchen, her mother and aunt bickered over the main menu while out in the backyard, Uncle Harry and her father attempted to put the deep-fryer to work.

She had a perfect view of the two men, standing around the funny-looking equipment. If she wasn’t sulking over her menial task, Phoebe would’ve laughed at their puzzled expressions or at least offered to help.

Then she thought of the brothers in the Teka home, wondering what they were doing for Thanksgiving. Phoebe frowned at the thought of either Darah or Geraldine cooking. Her fingers stilled on the masher.

“Now now,” Aunt Belinda spoke up. “That is certainly not the way Mama used to do it.”

Phoebe turned to see the sisters standing over the stove, arguing over a silly pot of greens. She rolled her eyes and turned away.

“I’m not trying to do it like Mama. Give me the spoon, Bel.”

“Marsha, I’ll be darned if I let you taint Mama’s greens.”

“For goodness’ sake! It’s my kitchen, my stove! I can do whatever I want with my greens.”

Phoebe sighed heavily. So much for some peace and quiet. She mashed the last potato and set it aside before standing. “I’m gonna help Dad and Uncle.”

The women paid her no attention, now criticizing each other’s cooking. Shaking her head, Phoebe put the bowl on the counter and moved to the back door.

“You sure we should use Crisco?” Uncle Harry muttered, assessing the bottle of oil. “Bel’s on a strict diet.”

“Then she’ll eat greens,” her father answered.

Phoebe held back a smile, closing the door. “Need some help, fellas?”

Both men looked up and her father gave her a distracted smile before looking away.

Uncle Harry studied her carefully. “And how will you help?”

Phoebe arched a brow, coming to stand beside them. “Looks like you need all the help you can get, Uncle. It’s been almost an hour and you’ve still not put it together.”

Uncle Harry tugged on her puffy ponytail and flashed her a grin. “That’s all on your dad.”

“Like you’re doing anything but staring at me.”

“I said we should print out the instructions.”

Phoebe smirked. “Daddy seems to think frying a bird requires no instructions.”

“It doesn’t,” Clint replied, setting down the container on its stand. “Our forefathers deep-fried turkeys and chickens long ago. Don’t think anyone sat down to write some dumb instructions. Harry, hand me that screwdriver.”

Harry shook his head but reached down to collect the tool. “Hope you guys have an extra bird in the oven, just in case.”

Phoebe winked conspiratorially. “It’s covered.”

“O ye of little faith.” Clint squatted. “Just watch. When I’m through pulverizing this bird, you’re not having any of it.”

“Pulverized doesn’t sound tasty.” Harry regarded his niece. “You okay?”

Phoebe nodded with a smile. “Mashed potatoes ready for your favorite pie.”

His lips twitched, though his expression remained serious. “I meant about your guy.”

Cheeks on fire, Phoebe glanced once at her father before looking back at her uncle. “Err…”

“She’s got no guy until he meets my approval,” Clint groused.

Harry chortled. “The girl’s twenty-eight, Clint. Too old for show and tell.”

“Thank you!” Phoebe scooted close to her ally and wrapped an arm around him. She rested her chin on his shoulder and smiled.

He winked at her. “Besides, I got a good look at him. He’s a decent fellow.”

Phoebe gave him a weak smile. Though relieved that he liked Abe’s character, it didn’t change the fact that Abe didn’t want anything to do with her.

“I’d be the judge of that,” Clint grumbled from his squatting position. “Where’s the gas?”

Harry sighed and dislodged himself from Phoebe to retrieve the gas cylinder. “You sure about this, Clint?”

“Yup. Got it covered.” Clint accepted the cylinder.

Harry took Phoebe’s hand in his. “When he lights it, you and I run for the door.”

“Ha-ha, very funny.”

Phoebe stifled a giggle and rested her cheek against Uncle Harry’s shoulder. They turned to watch her father hook the gas cylinder and she held her breath. But only for a moment. There was a distinct hissing sound and then flames under the open container that would hold the thawing bird sitting on the open grill. No explosions, not spontaneous combustion. She relaxed against her uncle.

“Well I’ll be,” Harry breathed in awe. “I think you’ve got something here, Clint.”

Clint flashed a smug grin. “Told you.” He stood and walked around them to the grill.

The door opened behind them and a frowning Aunt Belinda stepped out. Her frown eased at the sight of blue flames under the open cylinder. “It worked?”

“Of course it did,” Clint answered, stepping around the container retrieve the turkey. “Now we just wait for the Crisco to warm up and–”

Crisco oil?” Belinda’s frown returned. “Clinton, I can’t eat with that!”

Clint snorted and Harry shook his head. “I told you so.”

Phoebe held back a smile and started to step aside, intending on returning inside to assist her mother. Uncle Harry squeezed her hand, pulling her attention back to him.

“Let’s talk.”

Her heart skipped a beat. Those words, even at the age of twenty-eight, didn’t bode well for her.

So when they came to stand on the side of the house, Phoebe acted quickly. “I’m sorry, Uncle Harry!” she burst out. “I should’ve stayed away, should’ve told him and you–”

Harry shook his head. “Enough of that. It was an honest mistake, and sheer coincidence that I would be there.”

She blinked. “You’re not upset?”

He sighed. “I was upset because you jeopardized their chance…”

Phoebe hung her head. “I know.”

“But they’ve got someone scheduled for their place tomorrow, so it’s fine.”

She looked up, smiling. “That’s great!”

He regarded her with a puzzled smile on his face. “I can see why you’d find it hard to stay away. They’re a good family.”

Phoebe looked down again, sighing. “Yeah… they are.”

“And they seem to like you as much as you like them.”

She closed her eyes, trying to ignore the aching feeling in her gut.

“Why don’t you go to them? It’s the holidays.” He reached for her hand, willing her to look up. His expression was kind, understanding.

Her eyes watered. “I wish I could, Uncle Harry. You have no idea just how much.” The tears fell free when Uncle Harry pulled her close.

<<Chapter 11 || Chapter 13>>


Guiding Light, Chapter 11

Posted on 30/11/2015

Nights at her lonely studio apartment were the toughest because she remembered the exciting activity going on at the Teka house. There would always be someone talking; whether Darah debating over things preteens cared about, or Eleazar telling her all about his day at school. Clement would be reading one of his father’s thick books, Bart would be sending emails on his laptop while Abe stressed over the guardianship papers.

She lifted her feet from the floor and propped it on the coffee table. Then resting her elbows on her knees, she stared listlessly at the lonely beta fish that swam in a circle, its tentacle-like indigo fins fluttering in the clean water.

While she ate dinner, the fish gobbled up the fish food she’d sprinkled into the tank. While she brushed her teeth and washed her face, the fish just swam.

Phoebe sighed. “Should I get you a lady friend, Festus? Maybe one with pretty pink fins?”

The beta fish didn’t break his swim.

She groaned and lowered her forehead to her knees. “Even my fish won’t talk to me.”

The doorbell rang and Phoebe’s head shot up. When it rang again, she put down her feet and pushed to stand. As it rang the third time, Phoebe knew exactly who it was. Only one person would be that impatient.

She hurried to the door and opened it. Her parents stood on the doorstep, her father in front.

Tears fell as her father opened his arms and she walked into them, sobbing openly. Her mother moved around them and wrapped her arms around Phoebe’s back. As a unit, they walked back into her apartment and closed the door.

With her mother rubbing her back, Phoebe rested her head against her father’s chest. It was a tight squeeze on the couch with the three of them but Phoebe felt safe, comforted by their presence. She released a tremulous sigh. “I think you were right…”

Her mother’s hand didn’t pause at the soothing stroking. “Right about what, dove?”

She sniffed. “That I’m a busybody.”

There was a brief moment of silence and she knew her parents looked at each other over her shoulder. She shrugged. “At least that’s what Uncle Harry said.”

Her mother sighed. “He was shocked to see you there. I’m sure he didn’t mean any harm by it.”

“But you said it too, and it’s true. I get into trouble because I don’t know when to stop trying to help.” A lone tear slid down her cheeks as she recalled the stern lecture Uncle Harry gave her in front of the Teka family. Then Abe’s response came to mind and she sighed. “Anyway, I understand why he was mad…”

“Do you?” her father asked gently.

Phoebe nodded. “I should’ve just stayed away, shouldn’t have gotten involved.”

“No, you should’ve told him the truth from the beginning.” Her father’s voice was firm but she didn’t mind it, not now at least. “But hindsight is 20/20. You have a choice to sit here and sulk or move ahead and make things right.”

She frowned, peering up at him. “How?”

He gave her a gentle smile, smoothing a hand over her hair. “You’ll apologize to him for not being honest. But first, you’ll apologize to your mom.”

Phoebe felt her mother lean away from her and sniffed. “Apologize?”

“For not heeding her advice.” He winked. “Although I’m sure she knows you’re sorry.”

“Clint…” her mother warned behind her.

Phoebe lowered her head. Admitting one’s wrong was still very hard for her to do, even though it was clear she’d been completely wrong to get too involved with the Teka siblings. Still, she didn’t want to apologize for her strong feelings for them. It would be insincere. Phoebe groaned and sat up. “I thought you guys came because you were worried that I didn’t answer your calls.”

“Oh I’m still mad at you for that.” Her father draped an arm around her shoulders. “But you know how your mother is. A worrywart. She begged us to come down instead of letting you come on your own.”

“I’m right here, y’know.”

Phoebe shifted to look at her mother’s perturbed expression. Her heart ached that even now her aging parents still worried about her as though she was still a teenager. She should’ve been more careful, more diligent about her life.

“And who said you could date without my permission?” her father groused, drawing back her attention to his frowning face.

Phoebe choked an incredulous laugh. “Dad, I’m twenty-eight.”

“You’re still my baby girl.” He pulled her close and kissed her temple.

“Thank you Daddy. Mommy. I needed that.” She reached out a hand and her mother clasped it, squeezing it gently. Her heart warmed despite the hollow ache for disappointing Abe and his family.

“So for Thanksgiving, I was thinking we deep-fry the turkey. What say you?”

Her mother scoffed. “What’s wrong with the regular roast?”

“I want to try something different this year.”

“Clint, that’s incredibly dangerous.”

“Marsha, relax. It’s not that dangerous.”

“Do you even have the instructions?”

“What instructions do I need to fry a bird?”

Phoebe smiled at her parents’ bickering and leaned into her father’s chest. For now, she would be fine. Just as long as she didn’t think about Abe and his family, she would be just fine.

“Deep fry the turkey?” Darah looked dubious as she stared up at Bart. “You?”

“What’s deep fry?” Eleazar asked, leaning into Abe’s leg.

Bart scoffed incredulously. “Have a little faith, will you? I got this.”

“Uh gee, Bart,” Darah replied sarcastically. “You’ve never offered to help make dinner before and we’re supposed to trust you with the turkey dinner?”

“A turkey dinner we need to impress the social worker,” Clement added.

Bart scowled. “I’ve helped with dinner before! Countless times.”

“Yeah when there’s not internet connection,” Abe muttered loud enough for Eleazar to snort in laughter. He ruffled his youngest brother’s hair. “Let’s save the experimenting for another day.”

“It’s not that hard,” Bart insisted. “I’ll look up the instructions easily.”

“Yeah, maybe not for others but since we’re prone to burning down the house, we’ll keep it safe with regular turkey roast.”

“I hate turkey.”

All eyes looked down at Eleazar who pouted up at his siblings. Darah frowned. “Who hates turkey?”

“I do,” Eleazar declared more firmly.

“Okay why?”

“I want chicken.”

“Chicken is better,” Clement agreed, hands in pocket.

“No way, Mom made the best turkey!” Darah protested, hands jammed to her hips.

“Not sure we can replicate it. Which is why crispy-fried turkey works. It’ll taste just like chicken, Eli,” Bart replied, still advocating his new technique.

“No turkey!”

Abe frowned, sensing there was more to Eleazar’s protest. He bent to his brother’s level and placed a hand on his shoulder. “Why not turkey, Eli?”

Eleazar’s cherub face scrunched in a scowl like Bart’s. “Because turkeys are animals, like puppies. We don’t eat puppies so we shouldn’t eat turkeys,” he said matter-of-factly.

“Uh Eli, chickens are–” Darah paused when Clement put a hand over her mouth. She slanted him a glare but didn’t push his hand away.

Bart and Abe exchanged a look, neither looking forward to explaining the difference to their six-year-old brother.

Abe squeezed Eleazar’s shoulder. “Okay, no turkey.” He watched Eleazar’s face brighten.

“Then it’s fried chicken for dinner,” Bart pronounced, ruffling Eleazar’s hair. “We’ve got to save the animals, don’t we?”

“Yay!” the six-year-old cheered in victory, missing the conspiratorial smiles all around him.

Darah finally pushed Clement’s hand from her mouth and shook her head. “You guys are so wrong.”

<<Chapter 10 || Chapter 12>>

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