Shelly had avoided the kitchen all morning; she’d even skipped her wake-up coffee. But now creeping through the swinging door, memories from last night came flooding back. She shudders remembering her ruined dinner plans.
The ringing phone pulls her to the present.
“Hey, Shell.” Her sister’s voice brings a smile to her lips.
“So how did it go?” Traci asks.
“Girl, it’s a wonder we’re still married.” Shelly leans her hip on the center island.
“You know, I’d been planning this whole dinner for weeks. I unpacked the new china from the wedding.” She lifts a plate to inspect her husband’s dishwashing skills and scratches off dried food.
“Oooh, the ones Aunt Pam gave you?”
“Yeah, it was going to be the first time we’ve entertained in the new place. I even went to that new fancy organic-cost-twenty-dollars-for-an-apple store. You know, the one all the way across town?”
“I’d have to save up for a month to get anything there,” Traci says.
“Who you telling? I planned everything down to a tee.” She scoots herself up on the island. “We were going to start out with my spinach dip, you know how I cut up the bread pieces to serve with it?”
“Oh, I love when you make that.”
“Everybody does, it’s delicious. Allergic.”
“The old bat is allergic to spinach.”
“Uhmm, Chris told me when he saw me unpacking everything.”
Her sister’s disbelief comes though the phone. “After you bought all that food?”
“Yep. But I wasn’t worried, I still had my main dish – my chicken and rice bake.”
“With the mushroom soup and little cut chives, you can’t go wrong with that. She had to like that, right?”
Shelly’s chest swells with loves at her sister’s pride. “Allergic.”
“To chicken?” Traci’s voice raises three octaves.
“Rice. Who in the world is allergic to rice? Oh, yeah, my mother-in-law.” Shelly sighs. “Well, for dessert I planned my peanut butter brownie cupcakes.”
“I don’t know if I even want to hear any more. You’re going to make me smack someone.”
Shelly smiles again; her big sister still would fight a bully for her. “She gave up chocolate for Lent.”
“Is she Catholic?”
“Southern Baptist, child.”
“That’s just dirty. Ooh, I don’t like her. What did you do?”
Pausing before a laugh escapes, she says, “we went to the Chinese Buffet up on
“But… but, I thought Chris wanted you to show off for his mom, you know, look-at-my- wonderful-wife kind of thing.”
“So, did I. I was in the kitchen crying over my ruined dinner plans and in walks his mom.” A smile comes to her face. “Traci, she took one look around the kitchen and whirled on Chris. She said his father pulled a stunt just like this one when they first got married. My mother-in-law said she cried for days after disappointing her mother-in-law and vowed that if she ever had a daughter-in-law she’d never put her through that. Whoo, she let him have it.”
“Oh, what time is it?” Shelly jumps down off the island.
“Ooh, I’ve gotta go. I’m meeting the old bat to go shopping.” Laughter breaks through. “She told me to make sure I bring Chris’ credit cards. I think we’re going to along just fine! See ya.”
MICHELLE HICKS, wife and mother of three, teaches in
"While experimenting with ideas for modern day fairy tales, I was inspired to write a Princess and the Pea-like story about what sort of impossible task a husband might set for his wife."