Friday, August 29, 2014

Going on Vacation


Happy Friday Peeps those of you in the US are settling in for a long Holiday Weekend so stay safe and have fun! And have a –

Next week I'll be taking some time off but have no fear in between Sleeping in

A little Retail therapy-

Enjoying lunch with friends- 

A bit of recreational gaming :) 

Dining out with the Hubs-

A little culture


And of course reading

I'll still be posting just not responding as much as I usually do! But have no fear I will get to your comments and then I'll be back wide eyed and ready to go the following week. Okay well I'll be back anyway! :)

Today's GoneReading item is-

“The Reading Woman” Boxed Notecards

Perfect for catching up on your correspondence
while taking some well deserved time off!

Click HERE for the Buy Page
And Don't forget to use the coupon
code DEBROCKS10 for your 10%

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Interview with personal favorite Deborah Cooke-The Frost Maiden's Kiss Blog Tour

Welcome to my stop on The Frost Maiden's Kiss Blog Tour
I'm so happy to welcome back to the blog a personal favorite author of mine one of a very few whose every novel is a must read for me, Deborah Cooke/Claire Delacroix. My stop features an interview with Deb/Claire today about her new Medieval romance Frost Maiden's Kiss. Fans will recognize the family and some settings but she's incorporated a bit more fantasy in this new spin off series.
So Enjoy a trip back in time!!


She enchanted him with a kiss—but winning her love would demand all he possessed.

After eight years abroad, Malcolm returns to Scotland with a fortune, a companion even more hardened than he and a determination to restore his inherited holding. But when that companion falls into peril, Malcolm seizes the chance to repay an old debt, trading his own soul for that of his doomed comrade. Knowing his days are limited and determined to leave a legacy of merit, Malcolm rebuilds Ravensmuir with all haste, though he fears he will never have an heir.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Interview + Review Pam Jenoff - The Winter Guest

Please welcome to the blog a new to me author whose WWII novel The Winter Guest made me an instant fan and her life experiences made my jaw drop. Enjoy our chat and then my review of this engaging novel by this amazing woman.

  • ISBN-13: 9780778315964
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 8/26/2014
  • Pages: 352


A stirring novel of first love in a time of war and the unbearable choices that could tear sisters apart, from the celebrateD author of The Kommandant's Girl
Life is a constant struggle for the eighteen-year-old Nowak twins as they raise their three younger siblings in rural Poland under the shadow of the Nazi occupation. The constant threat of arrest has made everyone in their village a spy, and turned neighbor against neighbor. 

Read an Excerpt:

Poland, 1940
The low rumbling did not rouse Helena from her sleep. She had been dreaming of makowiec,the poppy seed rolls Mama used to make, thick and warm with a dusting of sugar. So when the noise grew louder, intruding on her dream and causing her hands to tremble, she clung tighter to the bread, drawing it hurriedly to her mouth. But before she could take a bite, a crash rattled the house and a dish in the kitchen fell and shattered.
She sat bolt upright, trying to see through the darkness. "Ruth!" Helena shook her sister. Ruth, who was curled up in a warm ball with her arms wrapped around the three slumbering children between them, had always slept more soundly. "Bombs!" Immediately awake, Ruth leaped up and grabbed one of their younger sisters under each arm. Helena followed, tugging a groggy Michal by the hand, and they raced toward the cellar as they had rehearsed dozens of times, not bothering to stop for the shoes lined up at the foot of the bed.
Helena scrambled down the ladder first, followed by Michal. Then Ruth passed five-year-old Dorie below before climbing down herself, the baby wrapped around her neck. Helena dropped to the ground and pulled Dorie onto her lap, smelling the sour milk on the child's breath. She cringed as the inevitable wetness of the muddy earth seeped through her nightclothes, then braced herself for the next explosion. She recalled the horrors she'd heard of the Warsaw bombings and hoped that the cottage could withstand it.
"Is it a storm?" Dorie asked, her voice hushed with apprehension.
"Nie, kochana." The child's body relaxed palpably in Helena's arms. Dorie could not imagine something worse than a storm. If only it were that simple.
Beside her, Ruth trembled. "Jestes pewna?" Are you certain there were bombs?
Helena nodded, then realized Ruth could not see her. "Tak." Ruth would not second-guess her. The sisters trusted each other implicitly and Ruth deferred to her where their safety was concerned. Michal leaned his tangle of curls against her shoulder and she hugged him tightly, feeling his ribs protrude beneath his skin. Twelve years old, he seemed to grow taller every day and their meager rations simply couldn't keep up.
Ten minutes passed, then twenty, without further noise. "I guess it's over," Helena said, feeling foolish. "Not bombs, then."
Helena could sense her sister's lips curling in the darkness. "No." She waited for Ruth's rebuke for having dragged them needlessly from bed. When it did not come, Helena stood and helped Dorie up the ladder. Together they all climbed back into the bed that had once belonged to their parents.
Helena thought of the noises early the next morning as she made her way up the tree-covered hill that rose before their house. The early-December air was crisp, the sky heavy with foreboding of the harsher weather that would soon come. It had not been her imagination—she was sure of that. She had heard the drone of the airplane flying too low and the sound that followed had been an explosion. But she could see for miles from this vantage point, and when she peered back over her shoulder, the tiny town and rolling countryside were untouched, the faded rooftops and brown late-autumn brush she had known all her life showing no signs of damage.
She was halfway up the hill when a rooster crowed. Helena smiled smugly, as though she had outplayed the animal at its own game. Pausing, she turned and scanned the horizon again, gazing out at the rolling Malopolska hills. Beyond them to the south sat the High Tatras, their snowcapped peaks obscured by mist. She gazed up at the half crescent moon that lingered against the pale early-morning sky. The wind blew then and the moon seemed to duck behind some silvery gray clouds, casting light around the edges.
Helena bent to untangle the frayed hem of her skirt from the tops of her boots with annoyance. Her eyes dropped once more. Biekowice was just one of a dozen or so villages surrounding the larger town of Myslenice, spokes on a wheel fanning across the countryside. The entire region had been part of the Austrian empire not thirty years earlier and the latticed, red roof houses still gave it a slightly Germanic feel. There was one road into town, feeding into a cluster of streets, which wound claustrophobically around the market square like a noose. Another road led out just as quickly. A patchwork of farms dotted the outskirts, gray smoke wafting from their chimneys to form a halo above.
Shifting the small satchel she carried, Helena continued along the western path, a pebble-strewn route that climbed upward toward the main road. In the stream that ran alongside the path, water gurgled. Her footsteps fell into an easy rhythm. Despite her mother's admonitions, Helena had escaped to the woods frequently as a child. In the confines of their small cottage, she bounced about restlessly like a rubber ball, with nowhere for her energy to go. But this was the one place she could be by herself and truly feel free.
Pine needles crackled beneath her feet, breaking the stillness, their scent mixing with more than a hint of smoke. What brush or refuse could the farmers be burning now? Everything, even items once discarded, might have some use. Leaves and twigs could, if not fuel a fire, at least make it burn longer, stretch the logs or make them hotter when the wood in the pile was damp. She scoured the ground now as she walked, looking for dropped berries or nuts or even acorns that might be used for tea. But the earth here was picked bare by the animals, as ravenous and desperate as she.
The war had broken out more than fifteen months earlier, and for a while, despite the warnings that crackled nonstop across the radio, first in Polish and later in German, it seemed as though it might not have happened at all. Though their small village was less than twenty kilometers from Krakow, little had changed other than the occasional passing of military trucks on the high road outside town. It was the blessing, Helena reflected, of living in a place so sleepy as to be of no strategic value. But the hardships had come, if not the Germans themselves: herds of cattle and other livestock disappeared in the night, reportedly over the western border. Coal stores were requisitioned and sent to the front to help the war effort. And an unusually cruel summer drought had contributed to the misery, leaving little to be canned for winter storage.
She reached the paved road that led toward the city. It was deserted now, but exhaust hung freshly in the air, suggesting a car or wagon had passed recently. Helena's skin prickled. She could not afford to encounter anyone now. She looked longingly back toward the trees, but taking the steep, winding forest path would only slow her down.
As she started forward, Helena's thoughts turned to the previous evening. "Don't go," Ruth had begged as they readied the children for bed. They'd worked seamlessly in tandem as they'd completed the familiar grooming chores, like two appendages of the same body. "It's dangerous." She accidentally pulled Dorie's braid too hard, causing her to squeal.
Ruth's objection was familiar. She had fought Helena since she'd first proposed going to the city, continuing Tata's weekly pilgrimage after his death. It was not so much that the half-day trek was physically demanding; Helena had navigated the steep, rocky countryside with her father all her life. But the Nazis had forbidden Poles from traveling beyond the borders of their own provinces without work passes. If they noticed Helena and asked questions, she could be arrested.
"What other choice do we have?" Helena had asked practically, pulling the nightdress over Karolina's hair, savoring her freshly washed smell. They did baths twice a week, Karolina first, then the older children and Ruth and finally Helena, scrubbing as well as she could in the cool, filmy water after the rest had gone to bed. "We have to make sure Mama eats." And is not mistreated, she added silently. The care at the sanatorium was minimal, the resources scarce. She hadn't told Ruth of the times she'd turned up to find their mother missing her socks or lying in her own excrement, risking infection of the bedsores she persistently developed from not being turned.
Ruth had not answered, but continued unbraiding Dorie's hair, lips pursed in conflict. Helena knew that Ruth found the notion of Mama shut away in some city hospital alone unbearable, and that Helena checking on her each week gave her some comfort. Ruth feared the outside world, though. She had responded to everything that had happened by closing off and drawing within.
Helena, on the other hand, wanted to see the world. Her mind reeled back to an earlier trip to the city. It was a fine fall day, some leaves still orange on the trees, others giving a satisfying crunch beneath her feet. She had passed the turnoff for the city and it was a good two kilometers down the road before she realized she was on the path that would lead away from Biekowice for good. Ruth's face had flashed in her mind then and Helena had stopped, guilt-stricken. She had been distracted, she told herself, and accidentally missed the turn. But she knew it was something more—for a moment she was actually leaving, without looking back. She had not taken that path again, but each trip she stopped and looked longingly down the road, wondering how far she could actually go.
Helena was jolted from her thoughts by a loud noise, a giant's foot crunching down on a house. Ahead, a German jeep, machine gun mounted on the front, blocked the roadway. Helena leaped back into the roadside brush, catching her hand on something jagged. She stifled a cry as a thorn cut through her worn glove and into her skin.
As blood seeped through the wool, Helena berated herself silently for her carelessness in not clinging to the cover of the trees that lined the road. She crouched low to the ground, not daring to breathe. But it was too late: the gun mounted atop the jeep turned toward her with a creak. A soldier stood behind it, his gaze seeming to focus just above her. He shielded his eyes, searching the forest. This was the closest Helena had come to the war and, despite her terror, she found herself studying the man. He was ruddy faced and ordinary; save for the uniform and gun, he might have been one of the loggers down at the mill.
The soldier's eyes narrowed, a mountain wolf hunting its prey. A hand seemed to grip Helena's throat, squeezing. Would he arrest her or shoot her here? She was suddenly desperate to be in the house that an hour ago she had so eagerly escaped.
Her heart pounded as she imagined her death. Ruth would be sad, or maybe cross. "I told you so," her twin might say if she were here now, a smug smile playing about her full lips. Ruth liked to be right more than just about anything and Helena seemed to always give her reason by spilling or breaking something. Helena pictured Michal, wise beyond his years, comforting his sisters. But the little ones were closer to Ruth, depended on her for their care. And they had been so battered by the loss of their parents that they might weather this additional blow without much grief.
Helena felt against her side the cool metal of the knife she'd taken from Tata's hunting kit and tucked in the waist of her skirt. She carried it in case she encountered a wolf, but now an image seized her of drawing it and slashing the German's throat.
A minute passed, then another. Finally, the man sat down and started the ignition. As the jeep started in the other direction, Helena slumped against a tree, trying to catch her breath.
When the sound of the engine had faded, Helena stepped out from the bushes and scanned the now-deserted road. She didn't dare continue this way now. Perhaps Ruth had been right about the danger of the trip and she should return home. But she imagined Mama alone in the hospital and knew that she had no choice. She doubled back to the path where it emerged from the woods. Steeling herself, Helena stepped into the forest and the welcome shelter of the trees that loomed overhead as she started toward the steep pass over the hills.
At the sound of the door clicking shut, Ruth snapped her eyes open and tightened her arms around the children. She strained without success to see in the darkness, instantly struck by the sense of emptiness beside her. The bed was a bit cooler and the mattress did not sink as heavily as usual. Helena was gone. She had left for the city, this time without nudging Ruth as she usually did. And she had gone earlier, though perhaps that was not so strange, given the shortening days and the need to get back more quickly before nightfall.
Ruth shifted with effort, weighing the void she always felt in Helena's absence. Michal's head was on her shoulder, Dorie holding to her ankle and Karolina flung across her chest. The children seemed to gravitate toward her instinctively, even while sleeping. They were curled around her like puppies now, sweaty fingers clinging to her arm, cold toes pressing against her side. They had slept like this since their parents had gone, not only for warmth and to comfort the little ones, but also to keep everyone near in case of bombs like the ones Helena thought she had heard the previous night, or God only knew what else. Usually she found comfort in their closeness. But now they seemed cloying and heavy, making each breath an effort.
Disentangling herself carefully, Ruth donned her housecoat and slippers. She made her way to the kitchen, savoring the easy movements of her now-free limbs. She pulled back the shutters to watch as her sister climbed the hill. Her stomach fluttered anxiously. She had never quite gotten used to Helena's absences. They had always been together, and in some hazy memory she could remember looking up from her mother's breast to see the roundness of her sister's head, eyes locking as they fed. Being without her was an appendage missing.
"Don't go," she wanted to shout as Helena grew smaller. They had sworn to Mama that they would keep the family together, and each time Helena ventured out to Krakow, risking arrest or worse, they were putting that promise in jeopardy. Her mind cascaded, as it always did, to the worst-case scenario: without Helena, Ruth would not be able to sustain the family and the children would have to be placed in an orphanage, where they would surely remain because no one was taking on extra mouths to feed these days.
As Helena disappeared, seemingly swallowed by the thick pine trees, Ruth was struck by an unexpected touch of envy. What was it like to just walk away, escape the house and the children and their needs for a few hours? Generally Ruth liked the comfort of their home with all of its memories and had no interest in venturing beyond the front gate. But now she imagined striding through the brisk morning air, arms free and footsteps light. Did Helena ever want to keep going and not come back?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Happy Monday-Some cool GoneReading Book Shaped Items

Happy Monday Peeps I had a free day so I thought I'd bring you some really cool book shaped items from GoneReading.
As You know I've recently partnered with GoneReading the philanthropic e-commerce reading accessory website and these items really made me smile so I thought I'd share it with you too!
Remember to use the coupon code DEBROCKS10 for a 10% discount off of any regular priced item.
Enjoy the show!

Book Club hostesses set a book themed table with these fabulous items from GoneReading you'll be the envy of all!

Book Shaped Saucer & Cup

If you love to read, then you’ll love this Book-Shaped Saucer & Cup!  Simple, elegant and unique.  Your friends will love it the next time you host book club!
Safe for dishwashers, ovens and microwaves, they’re perfect for entertaining or everyday use.
Made from porcelain, bright white in color.

Book Shaped Saucer & Stackable Cup

If you love to read, then you’ll love this Book-Shaped Saucer & Cup!  Similar to our other Book Shaped Saucer & Cup but with a different cup that easily stacks, making it ideal for smaller cabinets.  Makes the perfect gifts for readers and book lovers! Safe for dishwashers, ovens and microwaves, they’re great for entertaining or everyday use. Made from porcelain, bright white in color.


Book Shaped Plate – Small

Be the envy of your book club with these book shaped plates!  Beautifully made from porcelain, these bright white plates will dazzle your bookish friends and family for decades to come.  Served in high-end restaurants and tea rooms around the world.  Safe for use in dishwashers, ovens and microwaves, they’re perfect for entertaining or everyday use. Measures 6.5″ x 6.5″ with a depth of 1″ at its deepest point. As seen in The Daily Candy!    $9.99

Book Shaped Plate – Medium

What book club can go without these book shaped plates from GoneReading!  Made from porcelain, these bright white plates will dazzle your bookish friends and family for decades to come.  Served in high-end restaurants and tea rooms around the world.  Safe for use in dishwashers, ovens and microwaves, they’re perfect for entertaining or everyday use. Measures 8.5″ x 8.5″ with a depth of almost 1.3″ at its deepest point.  $12.99

Book Shaped Platter – Medium

This Book-Shaped Platter will be the talk of your next book club or gathering of friends!  Normally used in high-end restaurants, these book shaped platters are sturdily made for either commercial or home use.  Safe for dishwashers, ovens and microwaves, they’re perfect for entertaining or everyday use.  Made from porcelain, bright white in color. Measures 11.75″ x 8.0″ with a depth of 1″ at its deepest point.    $24.99

Click HERE for all the Book Shaped items

Click HERE for a selection of book club gifts

Friday, August 22, 2014

Interview with NYT bestseller Beth Harbison-Driving With The Top Down+Review

Please welcome back an almost regular to the blog Beth Harbison whose novels have entertained millions of fans. She's here today to chat about her latest release. Driving With The Top Down. Just look at the cover and I know you'll be as excited to read this as I am. Stay tuned because my review will follow shortly.

Beth Take it Away!

  • ISBN-13: 9781250043801
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 8/5/2014
  • Pages: 352


Three women, two weeks, one convertible: sometimes life doesn't take you in the direction you expect...
Colleen Bradley is married with a teenage son, a modest business repurposing and reselling antiques, and longtime fear that she was not her husband’s first choice.  When she decides to take a road trip down the east coast to check out antique auctions for her business, she also has a secret ulterior motive.  Her one-woman mission for peace of mind is thrown slightly off course when sixteen year old Tamara becomes her co-pilot.

Read an Excerpt:

Colleen Bradley hung up the phone—a tiny beep at the push of a fake on-screen button, as opposed to the satisfying slam of a good old plastic receiver—and rubbed her eyes in exasperation.
An hour and a half.
An hour and a half she had just spent on hold with that stupid hold music playing, and then the second she got a real person and not a robot, she was transferred, heard half a hopeful ring, and the call got dropped.
In front of her lay a pile of bills and papers. The satellite TV contract was up, and she needed to reup their service, after she first checked to see if there were any unadvertised specials. Last month, their phone bill was higher than it should have been, and she’d had to call and talk to them about it. The dryer was barely working, and she would have to schedule an appointment for someone to come look at it. And to top it all off, the basement carpet was all messed up from her son not letting the dog out before going to sleep, even though Colleen had warned him about that: If he didn’t let him out, the dog would ruin the carpet. Lo and behold … Her life felt like a series of single steps forward and being shoved back three.
It wasn’t that she didn’t love and want her son—of course she did!—but maybe she’d spoiled him and created her own problem. (“Monsters are created,” her mother used to say.) Maybe she’d made it too easy for him not to keep up his end of things, like letting the dog out, and now she was paying the price for the “laziness” of constantly telling him, “Forget it, I’ll just do it myself,” and then not following through in time.
Then again, Jay was the reason she had the life she did. She would never, ever forget that.
She took a deep breath and—determined to clear her in-box and knock at least that one thing off her to-do list—opened her e-mail.
Coupons for Pottery Barn. As if she could afford that, even with coupons.
Restoration Hardware?
They always lured her in with their beauty, but who could pay that much for a sofa?
An e-mail from her father. She’d read that later.
An e-mail from … Jay’s vice principal?
She hoped it was a group e-mail, school spam, but as she feared, it was addressed to her alone, and about Jay specifically. His lack of motivation, bored attitude in class, failing grades even though he had the intelligence—they all knew that—to be doing much better and excelling in AP classes.
She sighed.
How many times had they had this conversation? A hundred? Two hundred? She felt her own frustrations with the school’s increasing expectation of parental involvement in homework—she herself had always skated her way through junior high and high school doing her homework on her bed, usually while on the phone—but she was still willing to do what was necessary. Yet every time she asked Jay if he had any homework, he said it was done and she believed him.
Maybe it was just easier to believe him.
The truth was, she felt like his poor grades were her own fault. That is, Jay was responsible for his own laziness, but if she’d been hearing this story about someone else’s kid, she’d be saying the mom had to be on top of things, no matter what. Kid failing? No more computer. No more Xbox. No more privileges until he got his grades up. It was obvious.
But what was he doing now? Playing games on the computer with his friends over Skype. She could hear him. She hated the nonstop gaming, but it was easier to pretend she didn’t notice than to have the fight about it.
It was one more ball she was dropping. At this point, she’d dropped so many that in her mind, her life looked like a tennis court after group tennis lessons for ten first-graders.
She had to get her act together and start doing what needed to be done.
Now Vice Principal Richards wanted to meet with her and Kevin (she already knew he’d be too busy at work to show) and all Jay’s teachers before the end of term, which was two weeks away.
“Jay!” She yelled down from where she sat and just waited, too tired to get up and summon him for yet another Unpleasant Talk.
Finally, “Yeah?”
“Come here!”
After a longer-than-necessary wait, the tall, lanky fourteen-year-old came sauntering in. “What’s up?”
“Got an e-mail from Vice Principal Richards.” She gestured at the computer screen as if that would put the fear of God into him.
He quirked a smile. “How is he?”
“Not funny. You’ve got D’s in two classes and an F in one.”
“A’s in the other three.”
“You think that makes up for it?”
“It averages out to a mid-C.”
“Jay.” She put her head in her hands for a moment, then looked back at him soberly. “Now I have to go in and talk to every one of your teachers, your guidance counselor, and Mr. Richards.”
“Just don’t go.”
“I can’t just not go. That’s the attitude—that right there—that’s getting you in trouble. Do the work, Jay. Do. The. Work. It’s almost summer vacation, you’ve got, like, three days to turn this stuff in. Being a student is your only job—can you just get it done?”
“Okay, okay. I’ll try.”
“No. No trying—just do it. Or you won’t be going to Cooperstown with Dad.” Empty threat; they both knew it. There was no way in the world she could cancel that trip now.
But they both pretended to believe it.
“I’m forwarding this e-mail to you, it’s got your missed assignments on it. You can still pass without having to go to summer school. Go work on whatever isn’t done now.”
He went back downstairs and she waited tensely for a few minutes, then heard exactly what she expected: the sound of the computer starting up again.
So it wasn’t that she was just being a persnickety old Felix Unger when she went into the kitchen and saw the mess; it was that she had completely had it with feeling like she was constantly taking one step forward only to be shoved back fourteen.
“Jay!” she yelled, eyeing the sink, the precarious pile of Fiestaware she’d gotten piece by piece off eBay and in antique and thrift stores, according to what she could afford at any given time. Some of the plates were chipped, one of the bowls had the mold-green remains of what was probably once Life cereal—and that was the one on top, so God only knew what the ones below looked like.
She didn’t want to know.
“Jay!” she yelled again, then went to the top of the basement door and added, “Get up here. Again.”
Her son responded with something muffled and indistinguishable from down and behind the rec room door.
“I can’t hear you, come here!” Usually she had to go to them when she couldn’t hear them, Jay or even Kevin. The onus was always on her to go hear, rather than on them to come be heard.
She waited about thirty beats and was half ready to go stomping down when she heard the door creak and saw Jay coming into the kitchen.
“What is it?” He blinked eyes reddened by what a more paranoid parent would have suspected was drug use, but which she knew were irritated because he’d just been sitting in front of the computer with the lights out.
“The dishes.”
“I brought them up.”
Seemed like such a small thing. She knew it seemed like a small thing. Maybe to another person it would have been. Maybe to her it should have been. But she was weary. Couldn’t do his schoolwork, couldn’t do the dishes, couldn’t do laundry if someone offered to pay him, had no interest in playing organized sports or being in any other way organized. And all of it was a reflection, she feared, of her own laziness.
Or, not laziness—exhaustion.
“Okay, one, you have sworn to me for a week that you didn’t have any dishes down there, so I’m not going to have a parade because you brought them back as science projects; and two, I told you not to eat downstairs at all. We’re going to get bugs and maybe critters down there!”
Jay gave a laugh, and even she knew she sounded like a cartoon mom. “There’s nothing down there.”
“How would you know? You were okay ignoring this”—she gestured toward the sink—“atrocity for days!”
“Calm down.”
Never good advice for someone who is angry, by the way. No pissed-off person ever calmed down because the object of their rage told them to. “I don’t need to calm down—you need to listen and do what I say the first time. I shouldn’t have to tell you things twenty times.” Just talking about it again was starting to feel aerobic. “It’s not fair for you to pile extra work on me like this.”
“Fine. What do you want me to do?”
“I want you to do the dishes and stop ignoring the very few things I actually ask of you.”
“Fine.” He emphasized the n. “Jeez, you don’t need to go off about every little thing. You could get the same point across by being calm instead of yelling, you know.”
This was something he had said before, and something that bugged her every time. Not because it was true, exactly, but because it wasn’t the typical fourteen-year-old line that the script called for. She wished it were true. She wished he really would listen when she spoke calmly, but he didn’t.
“Apparently not.” This was far from the first time she’d called him up to do something that actually would have been a lot easier for her to do herself. But she kept thinking that if she were consistent, he’d get so tired of always having to come back and do the thing he hadn’t done, he’d just do it right to begin with.
So far, that strategy hadn’t worked at all.
He turned on the sink and lamely rinsed absolutely nothing out of the bowl—the crud was going to need physical labor as well—before putting it into the dishwasher.
“Oh my God, Jay, do you see what’s wrong with that picture?”
He actually looked at the walls, confused. “Huh?”
She pointed at the bowl, her words coming out with exasperated breath. “That. What do you think is going to happen to that in the dishwasher? Do you think there are tiny elves with trash bags in there who are going to go chisel that stuff off the bowl and carry it out to the trash so that bowl comes out sparkling clean?”
“That would be cool.”
She sighed.
Of course it would be cool. But eventually the dishwasher elves would probably just end up sitting around, eating cookies, getting crumbs everywhere, and she’d be in charge of them too.
If she’d had another child—perhaps the daughter she’d hoped for after Jay until she’d finally faced the fact that she wasn’t able to have more children—might she have had more support in the house? Could that longed-for child have made the difference that kept Colleen feeling like herself rather than a bland working machine that everyone took for granted?
“I want clean dishes to come out of the dishwasher,” she said. “Not clean food.”
“Okay, okay.” He gingerly poked at the glued-on mess with a plastic straw he’d left in one of his drinking glasses (another of her pet peeves—it was like when her dad used to put his after-dinner cigarettes out on the plate, leaving it for the wimmin-folk to deal with). The straw bent feebly against the dried piece of Life cereal he was attempting to dislodge.
And suddenly it felt to her like this scene was never going to end. She just couldn’t afford to stand here all night instructing him, moment by moment, on how to be a civilized human being.
“Pick a little, talk a little, pick a little, talk a little,” Kevin would say. Unfairly.
Because what that amounted to was everyone perceiving her as a henpecker. Why was it so hard for them to comprehend her objection to their creating extra work for her? She’d work to clean the kitchen, just so she could get it out of the way and go on to do her own thing; then she’d come back and find this unsanitary mess. No one with a civilized bone in their body could have just left it there (one would think). So she then had to address it, one way or the other.
She watched for a few minutes as he limply rinsed the caked-on food, dislodging nothing, and stuck the dishes into the dishwasher, one after the other. Finally she couldn’t stand it anymore—the impulse to just push him aside and say Forget it, I’ll do it myself! was too great—so instead she turned and walked out of the room, onto the back porch, and into the cool June air.
It doesn’t matter that much.
In a hundred years, none of this will matter.
What was going to become of her son if he couldn’t clean dishes and pass high school? Was he just going to be one of those creepy loser guys with a ponytail pulled back into a thin snake down his back, bald on top, and willing to argue to the death about Doctor Who theories while rats crept through the kitchen, wiping bubonic plague germs all over torn bags of Doritos and opened cheese gone hard and dark on the sides and edges?
It’s because of his mother, people would say. She couldn’t even teach him the basics.
This used to be one of her favorite times of day. The pale blue twilight in the early summer. Almost warm, but with a lingering cool breeze. She had so many memories of this time of day.
She remembered being young and playing outside until dinner when the sky looked like this and her parents and their friends would sit out on their front lawns and drink—she suspected nowheavily spiked—coffees. Sometimes she and her neighborhood friends would be allowed up past their bedtime on these nights because the parents were having so much fun.
Playing football on the beach when she was seventeen on a spur-of-the-moment trip to Ocean City. It had been cool enough then for jeans shorts, bare feet, and sweatshirts. And once the sun was completely gone, the sweatshirted arm of her hunky but ultimately unimportant boyfriend. That was the summer before college, and the weekend she’d had beer for the very first time.
Then the memory of standing in front of Kevin almost fifteen years ago, giving him the News: She was pregnant. After a shell-shocked moment, he’d told her it would be all right, but there was tension in his voice, and she knew the truth. They both did, and for just a split second, their eyes met and she knew everything she needed to know.
He didn’t want this.
This was a catastrophe for him.
If she could go back, would she do it all the same way again?
Copyright © 2014 by Beth Harbison