Karen stood at the rickety old sink cupboard, the tap on with water running over the onions she peeled to make the mince stretch further to last a couple of meals. More and more tears trickled down her cheeks from the hot smell of the onions, in the end she didn't know if she was crying because of the onions or the struggle to keep a roof over their heads and stomachs full. For years, since her husband had walked away from his family responsibilities leaving behind him a mountain of debt, Karen had kept her counsel and marched forward to hide the disaster from her family with no complaints about her lot. She knew her family were displeased with the tight rein she kept on her purse strings, keeping them in clothes and food, not explaining how she went without for them.
Gary tripped on the hole left behind from the missing piece of lino, the pattern and color faded by years of many feet walking on it and the sun burning in where they holy, worn curtains didn't cover the windows. The excitement and joy that had Gary rushing into the kitchen, forgotten on seeing the tears streaming down his mother's cheeks to drop and mingle with the water, and vegetable peels, in the sink.
“What's wrong, Mum? Has someone upset you? Still having trouble with your new boss? I'll fix...”
“No, Gary,” sniffed Karen. She dropped the knife and the onion in the sink, dried her hands on her apron before she reached in the pocket for her handkerchief to blow her nose and wipe away the tears. “I always cry when I peel onions.”
“What were you in a hurry to tell me? Did you receive the promotion you wanted?” Mentally crossing her fingers that her son would be able to pay for his own clothes and may give her some rent money to help improve the food supply. Have a real steak for a change.
“You sure there's nothing wrong?”
“No.” Karen cast her son a watery smile, which covered the years of hurt and struggling, her body needing a long, long holiday, to recoup from the strain, and hours of hard working at the three jobs to keep the family together.
“Did you have some news to tell me?”
“I bought a new car. Come outside...” Gary stopped talking as thunder clouds crossed his mother's usually placid features.
Taking a couple of deep breaths to calm her, to stop the outburst of fury, Karen spoke. “And where did you find the money for a car? I suppose it's a bomb ready to explode into pieces and you'll expect me to pay for the repairs.” The Gods were up there laughing at her misery. She didn't take in all the information Gary had given her until the word 'new' penetrated her exhausted mind.
“New! Did you say, new? What have you done? What bank did you rob?” She could hear sirens In her mind followed by police banging down her front door, the rusting hinges wouldn't hold them at bay.
“I bought it with my credit card...”
“Credit card? What bank was foolhardy to trust you with a credit card?” Karen stormed through the house toward the front door, that she swung back against the wall not worried about the fragile hinges.
“Argh!” Karen screamed past her tight lips at the sight of the new car parked at the verge in front of the house.
Taking a few more deep breaths, Karen forced the words past the blockage of fear stuck in her vocal cords. “You'll have to return that – that car.” The shine from the suns rays on the shiny new paint laughing as they jigged merrily in front of her worried eyes.
“But, Mum,” Gary wailed. “The man at the bank explained to me how I can afford to keep the car. I only have to make small payments on the card.”
“Did he explain how many years you would have to be putting 'a little bit' of money on the card? What happens if the car is smashed? You'll still have to pay without having a car to drive. Is the car insured?”
“Of course it it. I'm not stupid,” Gary complained, shocked by his mother's reaction. He only wanted to make his mother's work load easier so she didn't have to struggle home with the heavy bags of shopping from the bus stop.
Karen left him at the door to go back to peeling the hot onions giving her a reason for her tears. She listened to Gary stomp down the steps, the car start and be driven away.
A couple of hours later, Gary returned home bearing a piece offering. He walked into the kitchen with plastic bags with containers of food and a smile.
“You can keep what you've cooked for another time. We're eating take-away tonight.”
“You can't afford to that now you have a car.”
“Yes, I can. I took the car back. At least I won't take a life time to pay for our dinner. Let's eat while it's still hot.”
This is a story about a idea we were given to write a story of about half a page but I got carried away. Now that I'm catching up on some work I maybe able to back more often.
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