Author’s Note: Yes! I’ve made it up to the fourth prompt. And that prompt is the following:
In my family we have an impressive collection of dietary restrictions which make meals interesting, to say the least. We’ve gotten pretty good at managing them all, but one forgotten ingredient and things could go south quickly. Write a story that takes place entirely around a meal that goes horribly, horribly wrong.
I think I’ll turn to my Jack Jilhouse characters for this one. 😀 We’ll so how bad it can get for them. (Sorry this one ran a little long!)
Jack furrowed his brows as he chopped the green onions, the green peppers and the collard greens.
The dream had come as it always did. Every detail was the same. Every feeling. Every uncertainty.
That strange feeling of a memory being relived.
What would it be like if I stopped having that dream? Would I be relieved? Or would I miss it?
Jack tried to imagine sleep without that dream of rocking, rocking, rocking and imprisonment.
Callie burst into the kitchen with at least 18 grocery bags looped over her arms. “Okay! I think I got everything we needed. This meal will be a success! A ravishing success!”
He swept his chopped food into the frying pan. “I don’t think ravishing means what you think it means.”
“Oh, whatever!” She set the bags on the counter and emptied them. “You know what I mean.”
She walked over to him and punched his arm.
“Ah! Callie! What the heck was that for?”
“Lack of enthusiasm. Come on, Jack. I can’t be the only enthusiastic person in the room. It’s exhausting. Give me a little support.”
“What? Am I supposed to wave pom-poms and be all ‘Yeeeeay!’?”
She shrugged. “That would be a good start.”
“I can’t help it.” He walked over to the bags and started to put the groceries away.
“Leave that out. I’m going to use it. Leave that out too. Leave—Jack! Why are you putting that away? I’m going to make that now.”
He threw his hands into the air. “Fine. You do it.”
“Fine. I will.”
Jack returned to the stove. He looked down at the green food in the frying pan. “Your mom isn’t going to approve of me.”
“You silly. She won’t approve of us. It isn’t just you. She thinks that we’re a toxic relationship.”
“Are we, Cal?”
She shrugged. “We have our moments when I wonder that myself. But for the most part, you’re too much of an idiot to be toxic.”
He coughed out a surprised laugh. “Well, gee. Thanks for the ego boost. I needed that.”
“I know. So, don’t worry. This get together will be awesome in every possible way.”
That’s what I’m afraid of.
Supper was on the table. There wasn’t a single meat dish in sight. Everything was vegetables and everything was green.
But Jack wasn’t worried about that.
He was just worried.
She’s going to come and lambaste everything. After all of the hard work we put into making this a vegan friendly meal, she’s going to hate everything.
The doorbell rang.
Jack considered running to the bathroom to hide out for the next several hours. But Callie didn’t give him a chance to go beyond considering it. She grabbed his hand and marched steadfastly to the door. He gave in and followed her.
Callie released his hand. She opened the front door and smiled wide. “Mom!”
The two women embraced and exchanged happy greetings.
Jack thought long and desperate thoughts about the bathroom.
I could grab something from the kitchen. Maybe some bread and peanut butter. Yeah. I could grab them and make a sandwich in the bathroom. I could eat it in there and it would be fine.
Until her mom wants to use the bathroom.
“And this is Jack!”
He plastered on a fake smile and shook her hand. “Hi. It’s great to see you.”
She sniffed. “Stiff little bugger, aren’t you?”
Something inside of Jack crumbled a little.
“Well, whatever. I’m not here for you. I’m here for the food.” Having made that announcement, Callie’s mom strode to the kitchen.
“It’s okay, Jack. It’s okay.” Callie took a deep breath and exhaled. “We’re gonna make it through this in one piece. Got it?”
“Good.” She grabbed his hand again. This time, she didn’t need to pull so hard. He followed her with a limp obedience.
They entered the kitchen.
Callie’s mom went about the table, slopping scoops of green food onto her plate.
Jack couldn’t help feeling like she was mentally slopping it on top of his head.
She looked up at them. “Are you two going to be statues all evening or you going to eat like normal people?”
Callie smiled. “What a question to ask!” She released Jack’s hand and approached the table.
Jack’s head reeled.
I am unmoored.
I am a boat that has lost its anchor. I’m going to drift off. I am going to disappear. I am—
A woman appeared in his mind.
A woman who was not Callie.
He tried to focus on her features, tried to confine her face to his memories.
But she faded away and was gone.
“Jack! Come on! Get yourself a plate and—-”
He looked at her.
Is she talking to me? Is that who I am?
“That is not my name.”
Callie stood and returned to him. “This is not the time for you to have a freak out.” She took hold of his hand.
He glared at her. “Unhand me or I’ll break your hand off.”
“And I’ll break your head. So, fair’s fair. Come on, Jack. Food is on the table.”
Jack smirked. “Well, luckily for you, I am hungry.” He pulled his hand away from her and strolled over to the table.
“Go on!” Callie sat at the table. “Help yourself.”
“Don’t mind if I do.” He took the loaded plate from Callie’s mom. “Thanks for getting it all ready for me. So kind of you.” He sat down and proceeded to eat.
The two women stared at him in wordless shock.
“This meal could use a bit more meat, but all in all not bad.”
“What kind of madness is this?” Callie’s mom demanded.
“That’s what I would like to know.” Callie said as she prepared another plate for her mother.
Jack smiled at Callie’s mom. “No madness here.”
“Huh! So, then I was right about you. I came here hoping to give you some benefit of the doubt, but if this is who you really are—”
“Mom! Don’t! Just. Please calm down.”
“How can I calm down when I can see that my beloved daughter has entangled herself with someone who doesn’t deserve her?”
Jack lowered his fork. “What? Are you talking about me, you sodden old oaf cow?”
He jolted back to his senses. “What?” He noticed the hurt in Callie’s eyes and he felt sick. “What did I say?”
“More than enough.” Callie’s mom said. “Let me tell you that.” She rose from her seat.
“Why? He insulted me. I am not going to just sit here and pretend that didn’t happen.”
I insulted her?
What did I say?
“I’m sorry.” he said. “I really am. I don’t know what came over me.” He scoffed. “I know. That sounds really stupid and lame. But please. Please don’t go. Callie will be upset if you do. If you leave…” He left it at that because he didn’t know what else to say.
Callie’s mom gave him a look that was all fish hooks and daggers and shrapnel.
“Please don’t leave.” Callie said.
She looked at her daughter’s stricken expression and softened. “Well.” She accepted the plate Callie had prepared for her. “Luckily for you, I am here for the food.”