Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: In-Law(s) (05/08/08)
TITLE: Lock Stock and Barrel
By Marita Vandertogt
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She met Scott three years ago, the old love at first sight thing, at least it was for her, dimmed only momentarily by the sight of the woman that was walking beside him, her hand inside his arm for stability. While Cynthia’s eyes met Scott’s in the bright afternoon sun in the park, the older woman’s beside him met hers in a kind of squinty glare. Cynthia was sure it was just the bright sun that caused the squint.
“Hello” Scott’s voice was deep, his eyes warm as he looked at her.
“Hello” she’d said, a little more shyly, looking down at her running shoes, one untied, the other threatening to. The woman beside him looked down too, at her shoes, and back again, at the pony tail pulled back onto her head, revealing a face with no makeup. In contrast, the woman’s hair was perfectly styled. Her outfit a designer quality that Cynthia didn’t recognize.
“Come here often,” he smiled at the lameness of his question, but she ran with it anyway.
“Yes,” she said, in her most witty, creative response.
The woman smiled a small corner-of-the mouth sticking smile, as if saying, there, you just blew it with my son.
“Well,” he said again. “I’ll have to watch for you next time.” And with that, the young man and his mother walked away. The picture of the woman turning around and giving her one more look of disapproval made Cynthia sure that another meeting probably wouldn’t happen.
But it did. And another and another. Until this day, their wedding day, with a guest list filled with names she never met before. Cynthia’s family was small. Raised by her mother and an occasional visit from her father, her hope in marriage was to marry into a loving family.
The soft music from the organ played in the background. The ring came closer and closer to her finger, in a slow motion kind of way as her eyes flashed to the woman sitting in the front row. Cynthia felt the stare once more, then moved her eyes back to the warmth in Scott’s. The ring slid along, landing on the base of her finger. She felt the daggered eyes along her back. Why did this woman’s approval mean so much?
“You’re not marrying the mother,” Beth tried to tell her. “Why do you let this woman control you so much.”
“Because,” Cynthia felt the flow of emotion come out with the words. “He expects me to be like her, I know he does. And she knows I never can be. But he doesn’t, and when he finds out, it will be too late.” Her words kept coming, reason running with fear, a confusing combination, especially to Beth, who listened until it was finished.
“Now,” she said. “You can’t make this woman happy, you can only make her son happy. That’s all you can do.”
The next day, the phone rang. “Cynthia,” her name was drawn out, with a tilt at the end. She felt like confessing immediately, but wasn’t sure about the crime.
“Yes,” she said, wit surfacing once more.
“This is Mrs. Hammond, Scott’s mother. I’d like to get together and talk. Can we do that?”
The familiar “yes” flew from Cynthia’s lips again, and they sat together the following day, sipping tea out of china cups.
“I only expect one thing,” the older woman raised her eyebrows, perfume coming from her pores, or so it seemed to the younger woman.
“I know what that is,” Cynthia interrupted. “And I intend to do my best at making your son very happy.”
And now, on her wedding day, the woman sat, again a picture of perfection, eyebrows raised at the momentary pull of Cynthia’s hand away from the ring.
Lock, stock and barrel. Silly expression Cynthia thought as she took her new husband’s hand.
She titled her head toward her new mother-in-law as they walked down the aisle, husband and wife, and smiled, her arm safely tucked in his now, lock, stock and barrel.
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