Summer Respite

I remember asking Mother about all those plates on the walls–the kind found in souvenir shops. She had each state. Even Delaware. Every landmark and tourist trap was represented in porcelain. Mt. Rushmore, the Redwoods, Niagara Falls. For a fact, she hadn’t been to any of those places and wasn’t likely to go. Mother was a stay-at-home mom while Daddy worked 60-70 hours a week keeping food on the table and clothes on the backs of four kids and maybe, also, to spend just a little more time out of the house so he wouldn’t have to survive the noise and confusion that accompanies four kids and a wife who is longing for adult conversation. We had never traveled anywhere. At least, nowhere they’d ever made a plate for.

Grandmother’s was our only destination. Four weeks every summer. Mother and we kids would travel on the train most of the day, then pile up in Grandmother’s big house and immediately swear off wearing shoes.

Mother and Grandmother would talk non-stop for two weeks, burning almost every meal because they would forget the pork chops, the okra, or whatever else was on the stove, while they were drinking lemonade and deciding which movie to see that evening or reading quotes to each other from Photoplay magazine. They would debate which movie star had the best figure, the flashiest wardrobe, the juiciest love life. They called the leading men by their first names, declaring which one they would prefer to be stranded on a desert island with. There would be laughing, squealing and then abrupt silence when they noticed we kids were listening.

When two weeks was up, Mother would return to Daddy, who took a few days off, so they could pretend they had no children. We would stay on another two weeks with Grandmother, catching fireflies, getting eaten up by chiggers, and arguing about whether that was Saturn we saw in the night sky through Grandmother’s old telescope.

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The Trifecta Writing Challenge asked us to use the word survive according to its third definition.
Summer Respite won 3rd place in the Trifecta Writing Challenge
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Made with real cheese that gives a melt-in-your-mouth flavor you can’t resist.

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About Paula J Wray

I am a writer and I live in the Rocky Mountains of southwest Colorado with my husband and a balding black cat. I write humor, flash fiction, creative non-fiction, inspirational essays, and poetry. When I'm not writing, making lists, or forcing a family member to listen to something I've written, I'm reading, gardening, or laughing with my friends. I also, occasionally, sit and stare.
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17 Responses to Summer Respite

  1. iasoupmama says:

    Oh, this is so rich with detail! As a mom of four with a hubby who works far too much, I sympathize with the mom who misses adult conversation, though I don’t collect plates as dreams. Nicely done!

  2. Such a lovely little slice of life. You painted such a strong picture of this family. Wonderful.

  3. Draug419 says:

    This is a great little slice of normal life! Reminds me of my days with grandma. Love the swearing off shoes part (:

  4. Paula J says:

    Thank you. I appreciate your comment.

  5. Thats really gd mom. So clear

    Sent from my iPhone

  6. This is wonderful! One of my favorites this week. The rich detail, and those plates… even Delaware.. I love that… great writing!

  7. jannatwrites says:

    I love the voice of the narrator. I like the odd detail of the plate collection and the memories of visits to grandma’s-especially the abrupt halt of gossip when kids were listening.

    • Paula J says:

      My mom and her sisters were always laughing and cutting up when they got together, however, they did not stop when the kids started listening in. I love details. I think they define characters and stories. Thank you for your generous response.

  8. atrm61 says:

    You painted an adorable word picture-loved the part,”When two weeks was up, Mother would return to Daddy, who took a few days off, so they could pretend they had no children.”:-)

  9. Lumdog says:

    What a wonderful story. All the little details are just perfect.

    • Paula J says:

      It seems details are the theme of the comments this time. I love details. If you don’t use details, all you have is small talk. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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