Flash Fiction: A Proper Grandma
“Cuppa tea?” Debbie headed for the kettle while Susan scanned the table, trying to decide which seat would give her a view of the whole kitchen.
“Black. Thanks,” Susan replied, setting her mind on a corner chair.
Unfortunately, Debbie’s cat owned the chair.
“Jez.” Susan read his golden tag. “I’m going to swap the chairs. Hold on.” Jez squeezed tiny talons into the cushion as Susan moved the chairs. Jez didn’t take to his new location and glared at Susan before strutting off with the indifference of a king.
“Welcome to Stitch ‘n’ Bitch.” June grinned across the crease-free tablecloth. “What are you working on?”
Susan emptied the contents of her craft bag onto the table. “A birthday card for my granddaughter,” she said. “Nothing fancy.”
She passed the picture of a teddy bear to June, who nodded.
“She’ll love it,” Debbie said, glancing at the picture while placing the teacup beside Susan’s mess of thread. “You know, if you wind them onto small cards, they’ll fit into a box nicely. I can show you mine later—”
“Hidy-ho.” Ava’s voice fluttered through the door.
Susan grasped the cup, letting the warmth soothe the tension from her fingers. Debbie was trying to be helpful.
The badminton friends chatted throughout the morning. Susan tried to hide her unsteady needlework, unthreading her mistakes below the table. The week prior, she taught herself cross stitch to join the group—to be invited into Debbie’s home.
Susan helped Debbie to prepare lunch, peering into open draws and cupboards discreetly. Where was it?
She tamed a groan as she tasted the quiche. “These tomatoes are divine.”
“That reminds me,” began Debbie. “I need to place the garden shade cloth. Anyone want to take a squiz? The new tomatoes are coming along.”
As the group headed toward the door, Susan announced a bathroom break.
Alone in the kitchen, she opened everything. Searching while trying to keep Debbie’s systems looking untouched was difficult. She envied Debbie’s cooking abilities, but not her perfectionism.
Susan located the recipe box on a far corner of the bench. The famed, undisclosed recipes gave her hope of becoming a proper grandma.
Having grown up on store-bought cakes and leathery TV-dinners, Susan couldn’t cook. She’d tried. YouTube videos were a disaster, classes daunting, and most recipes confusing.
But, Debbie’s baked goods at badminton gatherings were perfection. And, if Susan followed a perfect recipe…then perhaps.
She pouted. Jez guarded the box. He was content on the stool, his coat freshly preened…glossy. Susan tried to reach over him, but he swiped at her before vaulting off the bench.
The girls returned, laughing. Susan had no time to look at the recipes properly while gathering them up.
Debbie stared, smile fading.
Susan shrugged. “Trying to make amends.”
Later, Jez sat on the verandah while Susan buckled her seatbelt. Her eyes were narrow. “I’ll win you over, and your bench. Next time.”
Originally written for Australian Writers' Centre Furious Fiction, February 2020.