Her hands quivered, with the fear of a thousand battered souls. Her mother’s favorite saucepan became weighted, as though she held an ancient anchor lodged in the deep Barrier Reef. Her fingers released it, and she felt the warm splatters as the pan thudded on the mushy Berber. She grabbed hold of the counter as her legs gave way and knocked the rest of the pans to the floor. With every thud of the Martha Stewart set, came another splat.
She struggled to breathe as the silence followed; a dead nothingness that had swallowed her whole, or wrapped around her like a sudden cocoon. For minutes, all she heard was her own jagged breaths. Then her phone rang and the angelic twang of Tammy Wynette’s Stand by Your Man cleaved though the nothingness. She pulled the phone from her pants pocket with hands that no longer shook, it was 2:23 and she still had time.
“Hi Honey” she answered; all at once composed.
“Hey babe, I can’t get to the school on time, we’ve been called in for a meeting. Can you skip your appointment and pick her up?” He sounded sincere, she thought, but he always did. He had always been so believable.
“Sure hon, no problem.”
“Thanks, I’ll make it up to you, I promise.”
“I know.” She hung up and slipped the phone back into her pocket. Her shoulders shuddered as though a rogue wave had washed up from that anchored reef and pummeled right through her. It felt righteous, and good.
She looked down at her mother’s saucepan that lay in the soupy Berber mess and remembered how her mother used to stir the spaghetti sauce nice and slow. She almost tasted the sweet basil as she conjured up quick snippets, flashes of her mom standing in the kitchen, stirring slowly over the stove. That pan had been a good choice; it was a strong stainless steel with a sturdy copper bottom.
“I stirred it up real good this time, Ma.” She said aloud, into the nothingness.
Three quick beeps alerted her to another phone, blinking on the counter. She picked it up, took off her glove and gave it a quick swipe. On my way, it read. She wiped the screen with her sweater cuff and chucked it into the messy pile that was the Martha Stewart collection.
“It’s for you, dear.” She said as she stepped over the lifeless pile. “He’s on his way.”
“How was your day at school, dear?” She reached over and tousled her daughter’s blond curls.
“It was fine. Lunch was stupid.” The girl glanced down and kicked at the blacktop. Then, she looked up at her mother inquisitively, “What’s on your legs, Mom? Were you painting?”
“Oh, that’s nothing, honey. I must have spilled some sauce, that’s all. Let’s get on home now, I’ll get cleaned up and we can make a nice dinner for dad, I’m sure he’s had a long day at the office.” She sounded sincere, and believable as the little girl skipped to the car.
Molly Roland is a writer by nature, and she enjoys stepping over the invisible lines society loves to draw.