The following is inspired by Monday Moment with…(subliminal message: this is a PROMPT)…R. Sativus. I didn’t realize until I went to publish, but I subconciously named my protagonist after R. Sativus herself. I hope she doesn’t mind…
“Mom, this is not funny!” I hissed into the phone as I ducked down in the aisle, trying to will myself to disappear. “She is screaming at the top of her lungs for someone to come help her, the clerks are running scare because she’s waving her cane over her head like a battle axe, and she has already toppled an entire cereal display because she can’t figure out the controls on her wheelchair!” Through the phone, I could her my mother’s giggles give way to howls of laughter, giving up any semblance of trying to be Calm, Collected Mother In Charge.
“Mother!” I threw every bit of teenage enunciated annoyance I could into the word, desperate for someone to save me from this humiliation.
“Okay, okay, I’m sorry, sweetie,” Mom was still giggling, but she seemed to be regaining control. “You just described the situation so well, I felt like I was right there, seeing it with you.”
“Well, I am right here, and I am not laughing. Please Mom, what the heck do I do? Daddy’s flight doesn’t arrive until midnight, so there is no one but me to watch her for the next ten hours!”
“Calm down, honey,” Thankfully Mom was sounding like Mom again. “Tell me again what started her off?”
“She wants cream of asparagus soup to go with dinner tonight. Mom, I checked the entire display, there is no cream of asparagus soup!”
“Maybe you could show her a can of cream of broccoli and suggest you have that instead?”
“I did, Mom! That’s what started this whole thing! She pronounced that broccoli is inferior to asparagus and started yelling for a clerk to come stock the shelves. She’s not even — Grandma, watch out!” I cringed at the cacophony of breaking glass, but Grandma wasn’t fazed one bit and simply toggled the switch to a different direction, threatening to write a strongly worded letter to management if someone didn’t help her right now.
“April, sweetheart, is everyone alright? What was that?”
“Oh, just a tiered display featuring various local wines and what they pair with. Everyone is fine, but I feel sorry for whoever has to mop up this floor.”
“Okay, this needs to end now.” Mom paused and I heard the telltale sounds of her laptop booting up. “Where is your grandmother? Go to her and repeat after me. We need to convince her to be content breaking things in her own home until your father gets there. Oh, do they have fresh asparagus at that store? I’m looking up a recipe.”
“I think I saw some,” I was slowly peering down each aisle to figure out where she had scooted herself off to. I honestly wasn’t sure if I really wanted to find her or not.
i finally spotted her down the aisle with toiletries and hygiene products. I cautiously walked towards her as she tore through packages of athletic socks.
“Okay Mom,” I murmured. “Take the lead and tell me what to do.” I approached the wheelchair.
“Hi Grandma,” I was as bright a cheery as I could muster. “Whatcha doin’?”
She turned and looked at me with emerald green eyes. I gotta admit, she might be going absolutely loopy, but her eyes were still mesmerizing. She held up a pack of men’s knee high athletic socks.
“I need these,” she announced at much the same volume as when she was yelling for the clerk.
“You realize those are men’s socks, right Grandma?”
“I need these,” she repeated. “Socks make me happy.”
“No problem, Grandma,” I reached for the socks and put them in the basket I was holding. “They are yours. And I think they are out of cream of asparagus, but if I get some fresh asparagus, onion, milk and flour, I bet I could make some.”
“Really?” Grandma’s face instantly softened back into the kind, loving face that I had always known was hers. “You would do that for me April? When did you learn how to cook?”
I smiled back. “Well, I think between you and Mom, I do alright in the kitchen. Why don’t we double up the ingredients? Just in case it’s not perfect the first time.”
Navigating the wheelchair much more slowly, Grandma started to follow me back towards the produce section. “Oh April, that sounds lovely! Why don’t we get some berries as well? I could show you how I make my summer tarts! I haven’t –”
She stopped midsentence as she saw two clerks and the manager carefully cleaning up the broken remains of the wine display. “My goodness! Whatever happened here? Who could do such a thing!”
I froze, panicking. She didn’t remember doing this? How was I to explain? I whispered urgently into my earpiece, “Mom!” But before Mom could say anything, the manager looked up, smiled and walked over to Grandma.
“Mrs. Hesterly,” he began warmly. “My apologies for the mess. There was an accident earlier and we are trying to clean it up as quick as we can. I’m sorry, but could you please come around this way for the time being, to ensure your safety… That’s it…”
“Of course,” Grandma murmured. “I hope no one was hurt…”
“No, no, everyone is fine,” he assured her as he led us down the next aisle. In my earpiece, I heard my mother sigh in relief.
“April, I am very proud of you, you handled that very well. Please take the manager to the side and tell him your father will come by tomorrow and pay for the broken merchandise.” I lagged behind Grandma and the manager so I could talk to Mom for a minute.
“Of course, Mom. But could I ask you something? Why were you laughing at first? I feel so sad now…”
“Oh April,” Mom’s sigh seemed heavier now. “Maybe it was wrong of me to laugh, but the way I see it I had two choices. I could have broken into tears because my sixteen year old daughter is trapped by herself taking care of my senile mother-in-law, who happens to be having an episode, and I am ten hours away and cannot come to the rescue. Or I could look at the humor of the situation and blow off enough emotion laughing at the sheer absurdity of Agnes waving her cane in the air and crashing through market displays so that I can keep a level head and try to guide you through it.”
“Oh.” I stood there thinking about it for a minute and then started giggling. “You really should’ve seen her lurching through the aisles, trying to boss people around like she was royalty. It really was pretty funny…”
“See, there you go! And now you can go cook with your grandmother without feeling quite so sad. Now go!” Mom commanded. “Berry tarts is one of the recipes that woman refused to share with me, and I want to know every detail of it when you get home.”
“I will take copious notes,” I promised. “I’ll call you before I go to bed. Love you, Mom.”