The Perfect Wreath

As per TBP: Casual Fri: My trick is your treat!,  R. Sativus (aka April) gave me this challenge:

Conscious and Breathing:
Write a 600 word (ish) story about disappointment, containing the words shellac, spiteful, and transient, and starring a character whose middle name is Felicity

Walking in the kitchen, Melissa tried to register the scene before her.  The smell of baked – possibly burnt? – bread  permeated the room. Jared sat listlessly at the kitchen table, his head propped against his hand, staring at nothing.  He was surrounded by bread wreaths sitting on wax paper, most of them lacking the fluffy round characteristics that were usually the common denominator of fresh, baked bread.  Her eyes travelled to the island in the middle of the room, where more wreaths of bread sat.  Some were still uncooked, dough attempting to rise, some were cooked but looked like someone had stuck a pin in them and let out all the air, and some – well, some were just black.Allowing her eyes to continue to travel across the kitchen, Melissa finally rested her gaze on her mother, covered in flour, standing at the counter, attacking a ball of dough.

“What’d that dough ever do to you?” She figured a light-hearted quip may be the best way to go about this one.

“I will… hang… a wreath… this year!” Her mother grunted, shoving the heels of her hands into the dough with every breath.

“Fourteen loaves of bread in the kitchen and I’m sitting here starving,” Jared complained.  He buried his head in his arms.

“Jared … I told you… I’m hosting… the book club… Christmas… get-together.  I need… to hang…. a bread wreath! Melissa Felicity Edmund! What are you doing?”

“I’m getting Jared some cereal. His blood sugar is low.” While her mother had been kneading, Melissa had walked over to the pantry and pulled out a plastic bowl and the box of Cocoa Puffs.  She now poured the cereal with some milk, then set the bowl in front of her brother. “Eat up, Jared.  You’ll feel better, I promise.”

Jared picked up the spoon and began poking at the cereal, taking little nibbles here and there. Satisfied that eventually most of the bowl would find its way into his stomach, Melissa turned to deal with her more complicated problem.

“Mom? You know if you’re sad your baking never comes out right.  Why don’t we pick a different kind of decoration to do?”

“I told… Patricia… I was making… bread wreaths…,” her mom rocked back on her heals as she finished her final barrage against the dough. She began rolling the dough into three ropes.  “Besides, I’m not sad, Melissa; I am livid.  If your father thinks he can get away with spending all weekend with that no good transient asshole, and then come sauntering through that door like nothing is wrong, he’s got another thing coming!”

“So your plan is to bake dozens of bread wreaths until you finally make the perfect one and then shellac it so no one can enjoy it?” Melissa leaned into the counter, trying to force her mother to catch her eye.

“Everyone can enjoy it,” her mother responded haughtily. “You can look at it and admire it as often as you’d like.”

“No wonder Dad fucking left,” Jared mumbled just loud enough to reach Melissa’s ear and she whipped around.

“Jared!” She hissed. “Don’t be spiteful! This is bad enough!” She turned back to her mother, and pushed the rage back down as best she could. This wasn’t  to going to be fun.

“Mom, I talked to Dad this morning…”

“Did you tell him he is never allowed to pull something like this again? I don’t know how I am going to cover this up…”

“Mom,” Melissa took a deep breath, it was time for her mother to face what the rest of them had come to terms with long ago. “Dad isn’t coming back. He is moving into Mark’s condo across town.”

Melissa watched her mother’s hand completely smash the dough she had only moments before been working into an intricate braid. The kitchen was completely silent for a moment. “Melissa please be a dear and run to the corner store for me.  I’m going to need more yeast.”

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