I stared into the closet mirror, bowing to the imaginary prince behind my shoulder. “Of course. I would love to dance!” I curtsied.
The waltz barely lasted twenty seconds before Mrs. Didge yelled from below. “Coming!” I shouted back. “Sorry, Prince.” I apologized, scurrying for the door.
Fifteen years was too old for imaginary friends, but it was fun to coax my imagination out. Usually I enjoyed myself…the rest of the time, I was interrupted.
“Yes, Mrs. D?” I hovered in the kitchen doorway.
Nearly non-existent white-eyebrows scrunched into a glare. “What did you just call me?” She boomed.
I winced. Oops. “Mrs. Didge…sorry.”
“You should be.” The glare deepened. “I’ve been calling forever!” She grumped. “Dinner’s fajitas.” She waved a hand at the cookbook propped up on the counter. “I’m somewhere between step three and nine.” She wrinkled her nose. “Don’t burn anything.”
“Yes, ma’am.” I resisted the urge to salute her retreating figure. “Time for a daily dose of nonsense.” I muttered, checking the clock.
Her soap operas started in three minutes.
I rolled my eyes. The TV was for her entertainment only, not mine. A thirteen-inch, black and white dinosaur in the basement was reserved for necessary school programs and nothing else.
My auto-pilot kicked in and I turned down stove burners, while stirring pots and skimming recipe directions.
After several reads, I ventured to turn the burners back up to continue preparations where Mrs. D stopped.
While I worked, my mind wandered. Mom and Dad were on another set of anniversary cruises and vacations that rarely, if ever, included me. I was the inconvenient component in their otherwise, perfect lives. Mrs. Didge was Mom’s old college roommate, though thirty years apart, their friendship allowed me to be shipped off to her house to stumble through my teenage years.
Scooping the vegetables out of the frying pan, I dumped it a bowl, lining up the remaining ingredients. Then began the dinner assembly. My wandering mind resumed and I dreamily allowed myself to return to the handsome prince that lived in my bedroom closet.
“You should take me out to dinner, ya know.” I told the empty kitchen.
His beautiful smile was dazzling. “Where would you like to go?”
“I can go anywhere?” I sprinkled cheese on a tortilla.
“But of course!” He tried to swipe some cheese and I pulled the bowl away.
“Anywhere in the world?”
“Anywhere for you, Princess.” I let him have a few shreds of cheese while reaching for the grilled vegetables.
“How about the Sydney Opera house?”
“An Opera house?”
I smacked his imaginary shoulder, succeeding in smashing my hand on the side of the refrigerator instead. “Ow!”
“I’ll forgive you if you take me to the Opera…tonight.”
“Tonight?” He exclaimed.
“Of course…You’re a magic prince, you live in my closet, remember?” I piled colorful strips inside the tortillas. “I want to tour Australia too. A whole three-day excursion even, shopping, food…strange and new things. I want have a better vacation than…than…”
“Than what?” He touched my shoulder, seeing my sadness.
“Than my mother.” I sniffled, wiping my hot face with my shirt sleeve so he wouldn’t see the splotchy expression.
“Then we’ll go now!” He said, impulsively.
“Now?” My excitement blossomed a thousand-fold.
“Well…maybe not,” He hesitated.
“Why?” I whirled on him, spatula in hand.
“You’re burning the fajitas…” He ducked. “Mrs. D will make you redo them and then it’ll be hours before we can go.”
“Oh go away!” I scraped the very brown specimens off the bottom of the frying pan. They didn’t look that bad. I poked it off into a plate. “They’re fine.” I grumbled. “Go make me something pretty to wear.”
His imagined laugh was interrupted by Mrs. D’s shout from the living room. I winced. “They’re almost done, Mrs. D…er, Didge!” I dumped another browned burrito-like thing onto the plate, snatching the customary plastic utensils.
She didn’t notice when I set the plate in front of her and slipped back to the kitchen to clean up.
Taking the stairs to my room, I flopped on the bed, balancing my precarious dinner plate. It tasted better than it looked and I grabbed my Bible from the nightstand, paging through to find the coordinating chapter with my devotional calendar. “For I know the plans, I have for you…” I stuffed my mouth.
Tell me, Daddy…any of those plans include a trip to Australia? I hear it’s very nice this time of year…
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