Family Tradition

She suffered in silence. That’s just what she did and always had done. Just like her mother before her.

“Don’t bother people with your problems, Kate. Nobody wants to hear it.” Her mother always gave her the same advice and then she’d bustle about the kitchen, making sure that everything was spotless, everything was ready for when her husband came home. Her mother was always sure to have a meal ready for the current abusive man in her life. Especially after a big blow up. Especially after she sported the bruises to prove it. She almost always made him a big pot of her special soup.

Kate started to call them ‘Good-Bye’ dinners, because he’d be gone once that last meal was served and eventually another step dad/uncle/male friend would come into the picture.

Now Kate was here in her own kitchen, her husband having stormed out in a fit of rage after she ‘made him’ hit her. As she stirred some spices into his favorite soup, Kate realized that she had actually apologized for making him hit her. She stirred the vegetables in the broth around and around, barely seeing through the swelling on her left eye.

She reached up into the cabinet, behind the spice rack for the special ingredient. She pulled down the old tin from her mother and pried the lid open. She’d kept this for so long, determined that she’d never need it. She wasn’t going to be like her mother. Men would treat her with respect and kindness.

Daniel was supposed to be different, but he’d turned out to be just like all the others. She’d given him another chance after that first time that he hit her. She’d taken the beating and suffered in silence with her broken ribs that time. After all, she had made him angry by bringing up the other women. It wasn’t his fault he’d lost his temper.

This time, though. This time was different. She placed her hand over her stomach protectively. She couldn’t let him hurt her child. Kate refused to raise a child with an abusive father.

She sprinkled the white powder in the pan of soup. Daniel loved soup. He always ate at least three times as much as he should because he loved her soup so much. Kate’s mother had assured her that none of them ever tasted the white powder, and she was the expert, so Kate didn’t worry about it for even a minute.

She smiled as the powder dissolved and she thought about how lucky she was to have had a mother who taught her to cook. At least she knew how to deal with an abusive man. Soon she wouldn’t have to ever worry about him again.

She heard the front door open. He’d be in a good mood now. He always was… after.

He came the the kitchen doorway, some other woman’s perfume wafting from his wrinkled clothes. “Is that my favorite soup I smell?” He sat down in his favorite chair at the table as she set a big bowl of soup in front of him. He grabbed her around the waist, “Baby, I’m sorry about earlier. You know I hate it when you nag me about my drinking. You know it makes me angry. Why did you do that?”

Kate just smiled, “I know, Daniel. It’s okay. I’m sure it will never happen again. Now eat your soup. I made plenty.”

“Aren’t you going to eat?” He said, his mouth already full of soup.

Kate tried not to show her disgust at his lack of manners, “I already ate. I was just getting started on your laundry.”

“Oh,” Daniel barely paused spooning the food in as he spoke, “Well don’t forget to separate the whites this time. All of my shirts looked dingy last time. I don’t want to have to tell you every damn time.”

“Yes dear,” Kate started to leave, “Did you want another serving of soup before I go? You look hungry.”

“Yeah, just leave the whole pan over here. I could eat a horse. And put some makeup on for god’s sake or find some sunglasses or something. I don’t want to be looking at your black eye every time you walk in the room. It’s off putting.” He was still shoveling food in his face, not even noticing the irony as he added, “It looks so bad, you’re ruining my appetite.”

Kate set the pan on the table next to his bowl and smiled as she left the room. Her mind was already on the task of finding a way to get the body out to the car without anyone noticing. She didn’t have an attached garage like they’d had when she was growing up. This was going to take some creativity… Her mother would be proud.

The End

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