My Mom Cooks Dinner

Published on: August 15th, 2017 | Genre: urban fiction
by Ethan Lesley CC | © All rights reserved.

“You’re getting good at that.”

“You think so?” she inquired in calm. “Didn’t even cut myself this time.” She proceeded with the onions and lettuce, and placed them carefully beside the pot. There’s still a trace of bathwater on the side of her face, but Phyllis didn’t take notice.

“What do you think of this month?” continued, as she watched their younger sibling from the kitchen window playing with her nieces, five and three. “Is it good?”

“What do you mean is it good? My year has been different from yours.”

“Yes. But you watched from the upper floor.”

“We’ve been taught days reset every twenty four hours, but it feels like a week is only one. I don’t do much; every new just an extension of the last.”

“Month’s warm.”

“Forecast is unpredictable. Unreliable. No use in pretending being sure and how to feel about them.”

“I did not know of the downside. Drought, rain. Did not expect them. Seemed to upend each other. Funny.”

“What will you name it? Faith’s a good name, isn’t it?”

“Yes – for you – if it’s a girl.”

“Consider it.”

“Is it for me?”

“No. For her.”

“Have you corresponded with our aunts yet? Received news?”

“I never bothered. Their sad reeked through last letters; losing homes.”

“They’re not safe beside contaminated sea. They had to leave it.”

“It dropped hundreds a miles away.”

“Can’t be sure. Can’t risk it when you’ve a family.”

“No, you could not… You think you know?”

“I was thinking of – if it’s a boy – naming it after the skies… Red. Planes. Ashen… Maybe he’d be a fighter.”

“You do not hope it’d be a girl? It would be fun, dressing her up.”

“It would be. But what good is putting on makeup she can’t afford when doors slam and you can’t hold a pistol with hand steady?”

“She’d have to be beautiful. To find a man who can do that.”

“I can’t teach her to be beautiful.”

“She can learn to fight. Do you want it to become a fighter?” Phyllis stared quiet at the space where black plastic containing her sister’s unborn used to be.

“No. I want it to become a pilot and just fly overhead, overlook the land of our great grandfathers, travel. Maybe leave. I hear the West is better. But I do not wish for it to be violent. I wish there’d not be this much need for soldiers when it grows up.”

“I think that’s ready. Did you put the right amount of water this time?”

“Same amount as you told me. You know best.”

“Season it well so it won’t be bitter. The power’ll cut off in three hours exact.” Phyllis adjusted her chair. “Help me with this blanket. Off with it. I’m sweating.”

“You need to rest.”

“You bought me one heavy, one wool and brown. It’s boring. I was the opposite of that.”

“You were everything but.”

“I want a hug embroidered with stars, decorated like the heavens. Get me another.”

“I will buy you another.”

“Save for it. I don’t want to rot like our mother. That’s what scares… I’ve made meal for us for almost a decade now, before mine left for universities, before the automobile.”

“Yes, and you don’t let me forget, like a hawk. We need one of those brown talkie boxes, like the one he praises. The one they shared in Guam. He talks more than I do. I think it’s how he commands me.”

“Is that the only green you have? Is it good for supper, stay fresh in five hours? Why did you buy them?”

“I didn’t know the way to the market like you do. Was late when I got there. It looked good.”

“Were you right? Is it good? Or were you bullied into buying?”

“I hope so. I think so. I was not.” She chipped at the black spots so Phyllis wouldn’t see. She was her bully at home. “I’ll be twenty two this Friday. They will be.”

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