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Genre: Drama / Humor
A Little Malarkey
Grandma Mercy had no patience for wimps nor fools. In her book, Sidney fit both categories. “How’d you ever hook up with a fool like him?”
“Now MeeMa. What’s done is done. No point tempting your blood pressure. He’s a good man.” Celeste paced the hundred-year kitchen, stepping on the creaky spots she still remembered. Freckled and ponytailed, she looked closer to eighteen than thirty. ”I’d like tea. You want tea? Where’s the kettle?”
“Sure. Made double chocolate brownies yesterday. The man’s hands are softer than a baby’s brand new skin.” Grandma reached into a cupboard for the treat tin and another for cups and saucers.
“He’s a scholar. A University Prof. What’s wrong with that?” She watched the gas flame catch beneath the beat up kettle. “Where’s the one I bought you for Christmas?”
“The man’s never done an honest day’s work. What? This one still works. New means better, does it? How long you known him?”
“Off and on—about five years. Why don’t you like him?”
“I said no such thing. So he’s a scholar, but a mighty slow thinker. Asked him did he want vanilla ice cream with his cherry pie at lunch. Both homemade, I told him. I thought we lost him in a black hole somewhere till he blinked and dipped his head, which I took for a nod. I guessed right ‘cause he dug in. I wonder how long does it take to pick out a pair of socks every morning.”
“You’re talking about my husband. My husband.” Celeste, arms crossed, watched Grandma Mercy arrange brownies on a chipped plate. The kettle whistled. She snapped the knob to off and carried the boiled water to the kitchen table. “Brownies smell heavenly. Oops. Forgot the sugar for your tea.”
“You’re my favorite granddaughter, ‘course you’re the only one, but I hope you haven’t made a huge mistake. Who’s gonna look after who? Tell me that.” She stirred the tea with vigor, studying the dark liquid.”
“These aren’t the old days, MeeMa. We aren’t farming or homesteading. I guess we’ll look after each other.” Celeste reached for the older woman’s hand. “Don’t worry. We’ll be fine.”
Gray eyes, still clear and sharp, studied her over the rim of the teacup. “I wonder.”
“What do you mean? You’d met him before and never said one word. Why now?”
“Sure twice for about five minutes and what—a year or two ago? I had no idea you were serious about him. Tell me. Who proposed to who?”
Celeste’s jaw dropped. Tea spilled into her lap and onto the placemat. “Ow-ow-ow. Darn. Darn. That’s hot.” She jumped up unzipping her jeans and hobbled to the bathroom.
Grandma removed the wet placemat and dried the table and chair. “You okay?”
No response, except for gushing water. Then silence. A towel wrapped around her waist, Celeste returned to the kitchen. “No damage done. I’ve hung the jeans on the shower rod to dry. What time is it?”
“Knowing Gramps, he and Sidney won’t be back for hours. I hope he doesn’t bore the boy to distraction. Sit. More tea?”
Celeste took a sip. The tea had cooled. Brows raised she drank again. “Now he’s a boy? Please.” She looked away and smiled in spite of herself.
“So, you did the proposing, eh. I knew it.” Grandma slapped the table. Cups and saucers rattled. Teaspoons twitched and slid. “There’s no order anymore. I don’t understand it.”
“If you must know, we proposed to each other. This is absolute malarkey. What’s it matter?” Tea finished, she huffed, throwing her hands in the air.
“Book smart is one thing—common sense is another. Who’s wearing the pants in this family? Seems to me he’s a bigger wuss than one of them lap dogs.”
The creak and rattle of the old farm truck announced its imminent arrival. Rounding the corner, it swung into the gravelled yard in a cloud of dust, scattering the few free roaming chickens. And skidded to a stop. “I guess Gramps proved me wrong. Bless him for not overwhelming the poor boy with our country ways.”
One door creaked open and slammed. Then the other. The women gaped. Singing? Not one voice, but two, each carrying his own tune like cats in the night after a date gone wrong. Grandma Mercy winced. “Gramps doesn’t drink, nor has he ever carried a tune even in church, not that he’s carrying one now.”
Gripping the table for support, she pitched forward upsetting her chair. Shuffling on twig-thin legs, she aimed for the door. Celeste close on her heels clutched her towel. Grandma Mercy flung open the door, feet apart, arms crossed. “Well, what have we here?”
The men, arms around each other, continued singing, eyes aglow, silly smiles pasted on stupid faces. Grandma stomped a foot. The screeching stopped, a look of pure mischief on their confused faces. “I thought you were out buying a riding lawnmower.”
Sidney and Gramps wove this way and that. If either lost his balance, they’d both end in the dirt. “Hello, Precious.”
“Don’t you precious me. You’re drunk.”
“Old Sam Waters wanted to sell me a broken down mower, but Sidney talked me out of it. He knows machinery. The boy’s smarter than he lets on.” With a free hand, Gramps patted Sidney’s chest.
“You don’t drink. He put you up to this?” Grandma pointed with her chin.
Faces scrunched, the men gawked at each other. Grandpa shrugged, losing his balance. Sydney tumbled over him. Hooting as if they’d lost their minds, they separated, attempted rising to their feet, but fell again.
The door slammed as if a high wind had come up. Grandma and Celeste were gone.
“Guess Sidney’s not such a wuss after all. He’s still a fool.”
© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles.