Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Christmas in Luxembourg, Part 12


The next day Jill moved into the Inn. She had gone to bed after the blow-up in shock, almost numb to anything but the memory of Garrett’s presence. But after a restless night she woke up shaking, in an incandescent rage. What had she done to merit having her very existence denigrated, by her own mother? How dare Mother make accounting a litmus test of love? How dare she foist the Inn on Jill as a punishment for being a disappointment? Maybe it was ridiculous to have come back to Ohio only to run away from the family house a second time, but Jill was damned if she was going to stay another night under the same roof with Mother. 

Jill didn’t put much stock in Mother’s threat to transfer the Inn to her, but as she was checking in at the desk, the manager pleaded for her help. The poor woman wrung her hands as she explained that Mother hadn’t come in that day and had said in no uncertain terms that Jill would be running the Inn from now on. Jill dismissed this as mere childishness, but no, it turned out Mother was serious, and on a day Jill had hoped would be a quiet time for reflection, she found herself signing off on purchasing decisions and interviewing new cleaning staff.

In the afternoon she had a call from Reagan.

“Why don’t you come over to my place tonight?” Reagan suggested, with a sweetness that put Jill on her guard. “Del and Quennedey and I were going to bake some Christmas cookies, and I thought you might want to join us. You know, have a little sister time.” 

Jill had had about all the sister time she could stomach, but the underlying note of hysteria in Reagan’s voice intrigued her. And so, that evening she found herself wrapped in a green apron with a big Rudolf nose pom-pom, rolling out cookies on a floury counter. 

“I wasn’t even 100% serious about building a new house,” complained Reagan, glancing around at the gourmet kitchen financed by alimony. “And now Mother won’t get off my case about it. She’s been calling me all day with plans and suggestions about how we should lay it out. She’s been talking to her lawyers about how to transfer the ownership. I thought she was serious about wanting to move to Florida.

“She wanted to move to Florida with Daddy,” said Del, settling on a stool. She didn’t like baking and wasn’t even pretending to help. “She’s falling apart without him. She depended on him to rein her in, and now that he’s gone she doesn’t know how to manage herself.”

Quennedey was underfoot, armed with cookie cutters. “Mom said Grandma was off her meds.”

Jill didn’t feel quite ready to talk about Daddy yet, or Mother without Daddy. “Why did you even bring up the land last night then?” she snapped at Reagan. “It’s not like you were obligated to even say anything.”

“You get to go back to Los Angeles. We have to live with Mother here,” Reagan said. “Anyway, I thought it might be a chance to put in a word about that land.”

“Why?” Jill demanded. “You’ve never cared about it before.”

Reagan made an elaborate show of vagueness. “Mr. Singh says that owning land is a solid investment.”

Jill flattened the dough with a vengeance. “And so you kissed up to Mother and left me holding the bag just to get a piece of stupid land?”

“Why not?” Reagan demanded. “What else has Mother ever had to give? Kisses? Affection? If she can’t behave like a human to her children, at least she could give us our inheritance before she completely demolishes it.”

“If you roll out those cookies any thinner, they’re going to burn,” said Del. “So you’ll get her to hand you her property, and then you’re planning to support her when she retires?”

Reagan blanched. “But she’s going to Florida!”

“On what money?” asked Del.

Jill finally let Quennedey shove her away from the dough. “Well, if that money is supposed to come from her properties, I guess it’s up to me.”

“I’m the only grandchild, so it’s all my money in the end,” said Quennedey, stamping out cookies with great satisfying thumps of the cutters.

Jill was determined not to do anything underhanded, so she scrutinized the accounts before she felt satisfied that she could call in a consultant. Then she phoned Amita.

“Hey, girlfriend, how’s snowy Ohio?” chirped Amita. “I’m so jelly.”

“Out of control. Even the old-timers can’t remember such a horrible year. Want an expenses-paid trip to see it for yourself?”

Amita’s enthusiasm carried all the way across three time zones.

“I can’t wait to see everything! I want to ride a horse and go sledding and eat chestnuts roasted on an open fire. What about the ex-boyfriend? Is he available? Has he been making your life miserable?”

“Who?” Jill’s mental wheels spun for a moment. “Oh, yeah. No, there’s no drama there. He’s been the least of my worries.”

“Well, your worries are over now! We’ll fix your books and taxes, and then we’re going to make the season merry and bright.”

Oh, the season would be bright, Jill thought. That glow is just my family burning down.


1 comment:

Foxfier said...

Oooh, reality check or enabler, only time will tell.