Laura From ThatGrrl won the Short Notice Short Story competition! She'll be taking home 40 dollars and a jar of my wife's tasty Strawberry Jam! (I'm a pantry bandit, if you haven't already guessed as much!)
Strawberry Jam with Ginger
"My Mother isn't coming for a social visit, she wants to inspect us, dissect everything I've done with the house, the girls and you." Blair pulled the blankets back over her head.
"Your Mother is coming to see the girls and us. You make her sound like a hyper critical bitch and she's really pretty sweet." Bob pulled the blankets off the bed, trying to force Blair to get out of it. "I had Alice and Claire all dressed up but they wanted your strawberry jam on toast and now they're all sticky. But they loved the jam Mommy made."
Bob sat on the bed next to Blair while she curled up, tried to pretend it wasn't too cold to go back to sleep.
"Did you like the jam?" Blair said.
"I did. Now get up. I said we could make the jam this morning, together. You didn't have to stay up so late just to make jam. I offered to just buy some so you could put it in the mason jars and let her think you made it."
"She would have known." Blair laughed. "I wanted one really homemade domestic thing done before she comes out here. I wish I could have made bread too. I just couldn't keep myself awake long enough for it to rise twice."
"Come on, get up, your Mother isn't as evil as you want to think she is." Bob gave her a playful swat on the butt. "I'll change the girls, you have to get yourself changed and showered. I can put coffee on once I've got the girls all frilled up again."
"Thanks." Blair rolled herself out of bed. She avoided looking at herself in the mirror. Just turned on the shower, peeled off her nightie and stood under the hot water, letting it sink into her befogged brain.
Half an hour later as she was pulling her hair into order with a big 'bad hair day' barrette she heard her Mother arrive. "All hail the Queen." She murmured quietly.
It wasn't that her Mother was a demon in disguise she just had higher standards than Blair could ever meet. Over the years she had given up on ever being good enough or having everything done well enough. Her Mother would come in and take over. Blair hated having to be nice and let her Mother re-wash her dishes, re-order her closets and re-arrange her flowers on the table even.
Then came the advice, always well meant. The girls should have another hair cut. Bob really should be treated more like the man of the house and why can't Blair just let him sleep in instead of expecting him to be up with his daughters every morning. Not that Blair never helped out. She worked nights and Bob worked days. It wasn't easy being a couple that way but they wouldn't have to do it forever. Bob liked his mornings with the girls, especially on weekends when there wasn't a rush for school and work. Blair was the afternoon shift, home after school, until Bob was there to get them into bed.
Blair pulled a shirt over her bra, put a smile on her face and went out to bell the dragon.
"Blair!" Her Mother's eyes lit up and she came over for a hug and kiss. No, dragon wasn't fair. Her Mother really did love everyone, the family. She just needed a few boundaries... just as they say on those afternoon talk shows.
"Hi Mom." Blair hugged her back.
"Bob and I have just been having coffee with your great jam. I think you put ginger in it? It's really good. I just wish you had waited...
you and I... we always make the strawberry jam together. I nearly stopped and bought two flats of strawberries on the way here today, just hoping we could make the jam this weekend."
Her Mother, the dragon, the demon in disguise, gave Blair a watery smile. "I like that we can still do some things like the jam making and the crafts for Christmas. I don't get to do much of that with you any more. Your sisters never did those things, it was always you and I. Kind of silly to get emotional about it. You did just fine without me. You're good at so many things. Always have been."
Blair felt her own tear attempting to leak out. "I wanted to make bread to go with the jam too. Just got home from work so late last night... I have everything, fresh yeast, flour... Claire and Alice can help and Bob is really good at taking over the kneading when my arms get tired."
Blair laughed. "I'm glad you're here Mom. I always liked making jam, bread and holiday sewing things with you. Now that you're here a few days we can teach Claire and Alice how to do those things too."
Blair's Mom smiled, wiped a tear remnant away and sat at the table.
She sipped her coffee, looked at the girls in all the frills and bows on the pink dresses they wore. Bob really had outdone himself on pink and frills. "You know... later we could take the girls for a little hair trim. Maybe a little styling up too. They have such nice curly hair, it's a shame you don't do just a bit more styling with it Blair..."
Blair smiled patiently but inside she was rolling her eyes... Mothers!