This piece was first published on The Weekly Knob – a publication on Medium. I wanted to write something light and breezy in response to their prompt – Salt Shaker. This is what I came up with. I hope you enjoy!
Lydia unfolded her napkin, lifted the corners gingerly with her index fingers and thumbs and smoothed it on her lap. She pursed her lips until her mouth was a thin red line. I had slaved over the pot roast all day for dinner with my mother-in-law. But she stared at the food through her furrowed eyebrows as if it was boiled garbage.
“Mmm, pot roast’s yummy, hon!” Paul exclaimed while expectantly looking at his mother.
I could almost hear her brain sharpening barbs to throw at me.
She took a tiny morsel, small enough to keep her alive in case I had poisoned it.
“Pass me the salt shaker, would you dear? It’s a little bland.” she smiled as if to soften the blow. “Remind me to give you my recipe. My Barney, bless his soul, would clean up the plate every time I made pot roast,” she wiped away an imaginary tear.
I cringed. My blood boiled inside. “Of course. Here you go,” I smiled back and handed her the pig shaped shaker with a white snout.
Later that evening, I poured all my anger over my husband’s head.
“Every. Single. Time,” My words came out sharp through my gritted teeth. “My food’s never good for her. Nothing I do is ever good for her.”
Paul massaged my neck, “Honey, don’t get worked up. She means well,besides…”
“I think she comes here every weekend only to criticize me. It gives her sustenance for a week,” I paced around the bed like a hungry lion. “Pass the salt shaker, dear. The food’s bland, dear. Ugh, I hate that damn salt shaker!”
The salt shaker! Of course!
A light bulb lit up in my head. I knew just what to do.
The following weekend she raised a critical eyebrow at my beautiful lasagna.
I knew what was coming a morsel later and as if on cue, she cooed. “Pass me the…” She took another morsel to decide what barb to throw at me.
The salt shaker was already in my hand. My skin tingled in anticipation. I couldn’t wait to see her face after she’d sprinkled copious amounts of the white pepper which I had replaced the salt with.
“Did you want the salt shaker, Lydia?” I pressed.
“Actually, I’ll take that pepper shaker today. The salt’s fine,” Her lips curved into a smile.