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Living Fiction - Chapter 43
Here's where Chapter 42 left you.
How do you learn that skill?
How do you learn to talk so people listen? And to get your own way in almost every circumstance? How do just steam roll over everyone like that? Up until now, I’d always thought of Millie as an irritant, but maybe Millie actually had something to teach me.
But I still wasn’t going to go around wearing bright yellow bird feathers and sequins. No matter what.
I turned around and knocked loudly on the door. If I was going to learn from Millie, I needed to fortify myself with caffeine before she arrived. I knocked again, even more loudly.
Edgar’s happy bark let me know Jessie would soon be there to let me back inside my own house.
And now, Chapter 43 Continues.
A moment later I saw Jessie walk into the kitchen with a quizzical look on her face. She looked even more surprised when she saw it was me framed in the window of the kitchen door.
Her incredulous, “Mom?” accompanied the opening of the door, as Edgar added his barking query.
“Thanks! I just locked myself out and now Millie is on the way over with a coffee cake! Quick! You still have about two minutes to escape!”
“Mom, how did you lock yourself out…again?”
Obviously, she had missed my panicked instructions to flee. “Well…it’s like this…I went outside and I forgot to UNLOCK the door, which means when I closed it behind me I got locked out.” Geez, that girl is so nosy. She always has to question every little detail.
She rolled her eyes at me.
Nosy AND disrespectful. Or maybe I was just taking her personally because I was crabby and a little embarrassed.
“Did you hear me? Millie is coming over in a few minutes…you need to make a break for it while you still …”
The knock at the door made the words ‘have a chance’ unnecessary. Escape was now out of the question. Jessie was trapped in the vortex of Millie’s irritating personality right along with me.
I plastered a smile on my face and invited her in. Princess yipped and yapped at me and then leapt nimbly from Millie’s arms to go terrorize Edgar. Have you ever noticed how dogs seem to take on the same characteristics of their owners? I don’t know too much about canines, but even I could see that Princess was really a mini-Millie.
Oddly, Jessie and Millie seemed almost happy to see each other. I was surprised to see the warm hugs they exchanged. Millie took the foil off the coffee cake and Jessie squeaked with delight. “Thank heavens you brought this over, Millie. I called off work this morning so I could finish a conversation with my Mom, and I was starving.”
When Millie turned to set the coffee cake pan on the counter, Jessie gave me a narrow eyed glance that I was certain translated to, ‘Yeah, try to wiggle out of this Mom.”
With great strength of will, I resisted the urge to stick my tongue out at her. After all, maybe she wasn’t really giving me the stink eye. Perhaps her eyes were just tired or something.
I set out the container of fat-free half and half and three mugs, including the ‘From Texas with Love’ one that had been the catalyst for this morning’s circus. Throwing some plates, forks and napkins onto the table along with the glass carafe of fragrant coffee was the least I could do as the hostess of this impromptu get together.
Millie asked for a knife to cut her cake, and when I got up to grab one, she rudely took my Texas coffee mug.
But at least her selfish act of grabbing the best mug reminded me that I was going to try to learn a few lessons from her about being assertive.
I took a bite of Millie’s cinammon fragrant coffee cake which was almost, but not quite, as good as my own recipe, and then I dove right in.
“Millie? You always seem like a person who knows what she wants…”
Millie looked up from sipping her coffee and seemed a little surprised. “Heavens, Pearl. I’m not sure what you mean.”
“Welllll…I guess I mean…ummm…okay…like this morning, when I said it was too early for company and you just ignored me and…”
Jessie looked surprised.
Millie looked hurt. “Pearl? Didn’t you want me to come over…I so, so, so remember asking you if you wouldn’t like to share my coffee cake and…”
I interrupted her, and tried to soften my observation. “No, no, I did want you to come over…well…okay…maybe I didn’t, but then I thought of how darned bossy you are and…”
Jessie’s startled, “Mom!” stopped me for a second, but then I remembered I was trying to learn to say what I mean and mean what I say.
“Okay, Millie. I didn’t really mean bossy…what I meant to say is that you always know what you want and you don’t care who you have to steamroll over to get it and…OUCH!”
Jessie had kicked me, hard, under the table. She made a slashing motion across her throat. It took me a micro-second to realize she wanted me to shut up.
I started to back down and then I told myself, “No, Pearl. You need to be more assertive. Quit letting people tell you what to do!”
Despite the throbbing in my shin, I continued fearlessly, “Millie? Listen. I don’t think I’m saying this right. What I want to ask you is…well…I think I need some help. You just seem to have everything all together. You know your style! You know what you want! You know how to talk so people listen! You know how to get your own way! You know? Millie? Millie! Are you…oh my gosh, are you crying? Millie! No, no! I’m complimenting you…oh Millie!”
But Millie’s tears continued to drip, which given the sheer volume of mascara she was wearing was not a pretty sight.
I jumped up to get some Kleenex and in the process knocked my coffee cup over. It spread across the table like a tsunami heading for Millie’s yellow rayon clad lap! Frankly, I was worried. What would happen if the hot coffee made contact? Spontaneous combustion? Fortunately, I didn’t find out because Jessie, with the quick reflexes of youth, threw a pile of napkins onto the hot liquid.
All three of us let out a collective sigh of relief.
“Now, what were we talking about?” Jessie said in a perky voice after she had thrown the soggy pile of napkins into the sink, “Oh, yes! We were talking about the weather. Right, Mom?”
I almost took the easy way out. I almost just said, “Why, yes, Jessie. Yes, we were talking about the weather.” Millie had quit crying while Jessie and I had cleaned up the coffee. When I glanced at her mascara smeared face, I almost remarked on the barometer but I couldn’t do it. I’d spent too much time ‘cupcaking’ out of my emotions for far too long. And I knew from past experience that seeing a teary face wouldn’t stop Millie from steamrolling over ME!
“No, Jessie. We weren’t talking about the weather. I was asking for Millie’s help.”
Millie leaned forward on her chair looking like she was planning to flee. Jessie leaned forward on her chair like she was ready to stuff a piece of coffee cake into my mouth to shut me up.
I leaned forward on my own chair and continued.
To be continued on Tuesday, July 19.
(c) 2010 Jennifer R. Matlock
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