Leaves and Street Lamps

The silver clinks on her fine china dishes.

The scents of a day’s worth of cooking waft into the air above the table. Wine. Lots of wine. Not the $13 a bottle nonsense that was prevalent in her house growing up. Not with Rachel’s mother in law here. Alice always ensures they drink the very best, even if it means bringing her own supply of what she considers best.

Julia, sitting across the table, happily sloshes the contents of her glass around before taking another mouthful. “Such a beautiful home Rachel. Really. You’ve outdone yourself with this meal.”

Her husband’s Aunt Julia, Alice’s sister, is at their house for the first time since they were married. Rachel’s own sister Kelly sits to her right, bouncing her toddler on her knees. The men are clustered around the other end of the table, discussing what sounds like another disappointing performance from the Detroit Lions. The older kids run amok through the house, occasionally darting into the dining room and conversation.

“I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself,” Rachel says as best as she is able to.
Julia chews on a mouthful of green bean casserole before taking another hefty gulp. “I am, and I have to tell you. Both of you. Your mother would be so proud of how you’ve kept her tradition going.”

The mention of their mother lifts Kelly’s head. Her eyes water and she bites her lip before looking back down. Rachel pushes out a smile. “Thank you. It means a lot to hear that.” She takes a hefty sip of her own glass.
Undeterred, Julia presses on. “You know, I never did hear about what happened to your father. Did he pass too?”

Continue reading