Perception Is Everything (23)

Josephine Falcone, as was her custom, spent the entirety of Sunday afternoon in her kitchen, cooking. However, it wasn’t just the ordinary Sunday pasta she was cooking. Her Italian roots had impressed upon her the importance of family, whether she liked them or not. Cousins of hers were coming up to visit from Portland that evening, and she desperately wanted to impress them. Normally, impression was not one of Josephine’s main concerns, but then again, cousin Philomena always had her nose in the air about something. Josephine felt the need to assert her “clear” superiority.

Louise walked into the kitchen, greeted Josephine with sincerity as she always did, and of course was met with mumbles from the wrinkled old frog.

Trying to be “helpful,” Louise noticed Josephine seemed a little tired. “Josephine, I know you won’t let me, but I can help with the meal, if you like. You seem a little tired. Why don’t you take a break?” she said with a convincing smile.

Josephine turned from the stove and looked at her daughter-in-law flatly and said, “Why don’t you mind your own business? If I’m tired, I’ll take a break. I’ll be the judge!” Internally, Josephine was tired and felt a bit faint. After considering a moment, she said, “Watch this sauce so it don’t burn. I’m getting an aspirin. I need to get away from the heat for a moment.” She left the room.

Louise, with smug satisfaction, waltzed over to the stove and began to stir. Looking over her shoulder, she then began to “accidentally” knock in a cup of salt, a shaker of pepper, and a few spoonfuls of Tabasco. With slight hesitation, she added a powder that would have “ill effects” on the majority of the family.

Josephine returned, scowling. All Louise could do was smile at her mother-in-law with all her might.

***

Annette, after having left the welcomed company of Michael Falcone, arrived at her mother’s house, fuming with anger, confusion, and sadness. Stella Bains welcomed her in and the two sat in the kitchen.

“Have an eclair, honey. I bought them from Mario’s this morning,” said Stella, trying to comfort her daughter without knowing why she was so upset. “Annette, tell your mother what’s bothering you.”

Annette looked at her mother, ashamed and guilty. She felt as if she had let her mother down. Stella absolutely adored Redmond and was never happier than the day they married. She felt as if it had been all her fault for Redmond’s unsavory indiscretions…

“Mom, I just don’t know what to do. I-I’m so confused right now I can’t even speak…”

Stella, trying to be as perceptive as possible, said, “Oh honey don’t worry about it. It’s just the hormones. You know, when I first learned that I was going to have Steven, I couldn’t sleep for weeks. I didn’t know if I’d be a good mother either! It takes time, but you have that loving way about you that Redmond fell in love with.”

Annette thought to herself, “Yes, the baby…of course. What am I going to do about the baby!” Too many things were happening too fast. All Annette could muster in response to her mother was, “…Thanks Mom. I needed to hear that.” Her voice rang false, and Stella knew it.

“It must be my fault…” Annette thought.

END

 

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