Loretta stood at the kitchen sink washing her hands.
“Be sure to soap up good,” her mother’s voice ordered through time.
“I’m washing real good, Mama,” she replied. She stopped to giggle and shook her head. There is probably a word for the kind of crazy I am, she mused while drying her hands. Talkin’ to a woman who’s been dead for years like she was right here beside me.
Loretta picked up her best carving knife and headed to the dining room, only stopping at the entry table on the way to arrange the white tulips, a birthday gift from her sister the day before. At least somebody remembered, she fumed silently.
Loretta forced a smile and entered the dining room. “Hello, Honey,” she greeted her husband. “Sorry I took so long.”
She busied herself getting plates and linen out of the sideboard and placing them on the table just so. Her mother had taught her the proper placement of each item, and Loretta was always sure to do it correctly.
‘A job worth doing is worth doing right the first time’ was one of her mother’s adages that Loretta took seriously; so she fidgeted and fussed with the table decoration for a good thirty minutes before she had it to her liking.
When she was done, Loretta looked at her husband and snapped, “It’s perfect. No thanks to you. You never help with anything around here.” She thought a minute and then added, “That’s not true. You help make plenty of messes, it’s just the cleaning up you want no part of.”
She rushed back to the kitchen and then started carrying food into the dining room. It took so many trips to get all the dishes from one room to the other that Loretta had to take a break after everything was set on the table. Gasping for breath, she glanced at her husband and frowned. Somehow, he’d gotten a glob of gravy on his tie.
“Can’t you stay clean for one day?” she demanded. “The family will be here any minute now and you’re a mess.”
Loretta heaved herself from her chair and went to get another tie for her husband. She had told him to put a different one on that morning anyway. The one he’d chosen clashed with his shirt something terrible, but of course, he didn’t listen to her.
While rummaging around the drawer for a tie, she found her husband’s secret stash of chewing tobacco. Loretta forgot all else when she spied the hated chew. She grabbed all six pouches up and ran back to the dining room, screaming at her husband the whole way.
“You told me you quit!” she yelled. “Six months ago you said you quit this mess,” she berated him.
Dirty, filthy habit, she fumed. Globs of dirt left lying around, stringy messes I have to clean up. “Not again, I tell you, never again,” she added, picking up the carving knife she’d laid on the table earlier.
It took all the strength she had, but Loretta managed to get her husband onto the table. She was so enraged she didn’t even notice the dishes she knocked to the floor in the process. Loretta had been scared he would come to before she was ready, but evidently she’d hit him harder than she thought.
When her husband was placed exactly where she wanted him, Loretta polished the carving knife and steadied her hand.
“The breast meat is best,” she heard her mother say.
“I know, Mama. I’ve been doing Thanksgiving for a lot of years without you, you know.”
She pushed her mother’s voice out of her head and made the first cut. It would have been easier had she removed her husband’s shirt first, but Loretta didn’t want to take the time. She’d been waiting on this moment for years. ***
When her sister walked in, Loretta already had her husband cut open and had stuffed him with chewing tobacco from neck to belly button. Her sister screamed at her, “My God, Loretta, what are you doing? Stop!”
Loretta wondered if her sister had been drinking already. “I’m carving the turkey. What do you think I’m doing?” she asked before cutting her husband’s right arm off and laying it on a silver platter.