Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes(7)

By: Denise Grover Swank

The best thing I could do was just forget about it.

Chapter Two

The annoying beep of my alarm broke the early morning silence. In a rare act of defiance, I didn't turn it off. I lay on my back, one arm draped over my head, and gazed at the water-stained ceiling. Dreams of bloody furniture, scruffy men, and an angry Momma had plagued my sleep, causing me to toss and turn so much the sheets knotted into a tangled mess. I would have loved nothing more than to sleep in, but Momma would have none of that. She considered sleeping past eight in the morning slothfulness, another one of the seven deadly sins. No excuses were acceptable, not even illness.

I was twenty-four years old and I let my momma tell me what time to get up every day. I felt hopelessly pathetic.

Momma shuffled down the hall. Let me have five minutes of peace, you old biddy. As soon as the words formed in my brain, I was contrite. What had gotten into me? Momma pounded on my bedroom door. “Rose Anne! Turn off that confounded alarm!”

It surprised me she didn’t fling the door wide open. I learned years ago there was no such thing as privacy in this house. Momma made it her business to know everything about everything.

I blindly threw my arm in the general direction of the alarm clock. Even after the shrilling stopped, I continued to lie on the bed and tried to the summon energy to face yet another day with Momma.

“Rose! Whatcha still doin’ in there? Get yourself outta bed.”

The morning soon filled with household chores, which really meant that I dusted, vacuumed, and scrubbed the bathroom while Momma bossed me around. As the minutes ticked on, my anger brewed and grew acrid, like a pot of coffee that sat too long. I worked all week while Momma watched television and gossiped with the neighbors. On my day off, I was nothing but her slave. I decided I would clean until lunchtime, then run off to the library. When I announced my plans to Momma, she protested with a vengeance.

“Rose, you have to make two apple pies for the Memorial Day church picnic tomorrow.”

“Momma,” I said, drawing out her name, worried my raging volcano of anger would burst out through the words. After a lifetime of keeping my anger stuffed like money under a mattress, I wasn’t ready to let it out now. “I can make them when I get back from the library.” I pulled out the leftover meatloaf to make sandwiches for lunch.

“The Henryetta Southern Baptist Church is countin’ on me to bring them pies tomorrow. I made a commitment and I intend to honor it. You’re makin’ them pies before you go.”

Momma sat in a chair at the kitchen table and waited for me to serve her lunch, as if I was her personal servant and she was the Queen of Sheba. Suddenly, just like a light switch turned from off to on, I’d had enough. I slammed my palm down, causing the dishes on the counter to rattle. Her head jerked up as I turned to face her. Anger made black spots dance before my eyes. “Well, Momma, if you made a commitment, then perhaps you should honor it and make the pies.” I practically shouted the last part, which from the look on Momma’s face, surprised her as much as it amazed me.

“Don’t you raise your voice to me!” Momma shouted back. “I will not tolerate you breakin’ the Ten Commandments in my house.”

I fumed while I finished making her sandwich then slammed the plate on the table in front of her. Turning back to the counter, I gathered the flour and butter to start the piecrust.

“You come sit here right now. You can make them pies after lunch.”

I turned to her, with my hand on my hip. “Which is it, Momma? You just told me I had to make the pies before I go. Now you’re tellin’ me not to make them. What about your commitment? I’m makin’ crust for the pies that you said you would make and then I’m leavin’.”

Momma looked aghast. I later wondered if she was stymied by what I said or the fact I finally stood up to her. No matter the reason, she obviously didn’t like it. Her mouth puckered up like she’d just sucked on a lemon and her face turned a mottled red. I about fell over when I realized I had stunned her into speechlessness. That was a first.

It didn't take long to make the piecrust. Normally, I would have put the dough in the refrigerator to harden then roll it out several hours later, but I didn't want to commit to being home by then. I threw an abundance of flour on the counter. The sticky mess clung to the rolling pin, no matter how much flour I added. I knew the crust would be a disaster, but I didn't care. If anything, it filled me with self-righteousness. That’s what she got for bullying me to do this instead of doing it herself. To add the piece de resistance, instead of peeling fresh apples, I pulled two cans of apple pie filling out of the cupboard. I opened them and simultaneously turned the cans upside down over the piecrust shells. The contents of the cans slurped and glooped out into the pie plates, the silence of the room filling with the sickening sound. I grabbed a spatula to spread the goo around then threw a crust on top of each.