So I did.
Since today is also food day, I included food in it. The chicken salad recipe is one my late, beloved mother-in-law favored. You can use walnuts rather than pecans, if you like, and green and/or purple grapes. Raisins, dates, or apricots, in a pinch.
Lilly Was A Lady
by Marian Allen
Lillian washed her hands thoroughly, carefully, and often between each dish she prepared. Cleanliness is next to Godliness, her mother had always said.
Lillian wasn’t sure she believed in God, but she most certainly believed in her mother.
Harold lumbered into the kitchen. The kitchen was her territory. Everyone knew the kitchen belonged to the lady of the house, but Harold, of course, must invade it – must assert his mastery of every inch of his domain.
“When are the old biddies due?” He poured himself a glass of milk.
“Four,” she said, her eyes and attention on the task of cutting the crusts off the bread lying helpless on the cutting board. It wouldn’t do, if she made a sloppy stroke and the bread came out lop-sided. Part of being a lady was presenting nice food.
“Are you having that chicken salad slop?”
“Mother and our friends and I like it.” Cooked and cubed chicken breast, celery, pecans, halved green grapes, and home-made mayonnaise – of course they liked it! Lady slop, Harold called it, along with most party foods.
Lillian, of course, controlled her anger, although she trembled so badly, the ruffles on her apron shuddered.
“Are you making anything worth eating?” He scooped up the bread crusts and crammed them into his mouth, chasing them with enough milk to turn them to paste.
“I made ham and Swiss cheese wrapped in long-way-sliced dill pickles, and those little cocktail wieners stewed in barbecue sauce. You like those, don’t you?”
“Near enough. Where are they? In the refrigerator, getting cold?”
“Staying fresh, yes. But I kept some out for you. They’re in the microwave.”
She heard the microwave door click open, heard Harold’s grunt of begrudging satisfaction and the scrape of the plate as he slid it out. Not the thump of the door closing, of course. Leave things as you found them was another of Lillian’s mother’s teachings which Harold’s mother had apparently not taught him.
“Where’d you get these toothpicks?” Harold had mastered the ability to talk with his mouth full, no doubt through his years of practice. “Spent extra. Going all out for your little hen party. Nothing too good for your mother, eh?”
That was true, but Lillian knew sarcasm when she heard it.
“The colored toothpicks are for you, actually,” she said. “I put extra in some of the wraps, and some of the wieners were bigger than the others, so I marked those with colored toothpicks and put them on your plate.”
He smacked his lips by way of thanks.
The empty plate clattered on the counter – not in the sink, of course; that would be too much like woman’s work.
“I’m going out for some real food. Have them gone by seven.”
But it wasn’t her mother who would be gone by seven.
Lillian washed her hands, removed her apron, drew on a pair of disposable gloves, and gathered Harold’s discarded toothpicks, counting them carefully to make sure she had them all. She took them outside and across the alley and tossed them and the gloves into the gigantic trash bin of the restaurant that fronted the parallel street. Back in the kitchen, she washed Harold’s plate in hot running water and scouring powder, dried it and put it away.
The poison, she’d read when she spent the day at the library, was supposed to mimic a heart attack. Harold was certainly due for one. If his death was considered suspicious, food poisoning from that horrible greasy spoon he favored over her own cooking might get the blame. If bad came to worse and she was arrested, she would confess and save the state the expense of building a case.
A lady always takes responsibility for her actions, as her mother always said.
~ * ~
MY PROMPT TODAY: Toothpicks