Mother Knows Best. Short Story.

Quite tired today! Was up early but it was worth it! Got tickets to go to see Florence + the Machine in March. Yay! Also Legend of Zelda: Skyword Sword arrived yesterday, so I’ve been playing that, it’s really fun! I was worried about the motion controls because of what I heard but I havn’t had any problems yet.

Getting flu vaccination on Friday, kinda worried about it, not because of needles (used to the stabbin’s by now) but worried it might turn into the flu because of immunosuppresants. Still, it’s safer I get it done then get the flu. I’ve never gotten any innoculations or jabs before, only tetnus. Mainly because my sister was allergic to some of the ingredients at the time and they didn’t want to risk me getting it an having an allergic reaction. Will beinteresting anyway!

Also, almost at 100 short stories posted on this blog, I am preparing something for when that happens! We’ve already passed 100 posts in general, but that isn’t that big of a deal (at least to me!)
Anyway, on with the show!


Mother Knows Best.

She stood at the door to the kitchen, critically surveying her work. She raised the cloth in her hand and took two steps forward before swiping at a small stain which disappeared immediately, as though too scared to stay in her kitchen. Despite the mania with which she had cleaned the kitchen only moments before, her hair remained perfectly styled, her make-up perfectly applied and her clothing still immaculate. Smiling she walked towards the sink, enjoying the sound of her high heels on the tiles. She turned the tap and put the cloth into the spray, rinsing it.

Denise looked at the clock, everything was perfect in this room and she still had time to do a quick run through of the house to make sure everything was perfect. Jacob would be home soon and he liked a clean house. So far everything looked perfect. The cushions on the couch were perfectly fluffed, the tables clear. She moved through to the downstairs bathroom, also clean and sparkling, filled with a lovely lemon scent. She went upstairs, checking first her their room, the bed was still made, perfectly of course, then she made her way into the children’s rooms. They were old enough to clean after themselves and she expected them to do it. They did the work in the morning, making their beds and making sure everything was neat and tidy. Josh’s room was first, his bed was made, desk clean, good. She turned to leave then saw it. A toy or something on the floor. She bent over quickly and scooped it up, it would be going into the bin. He knew the rules and knew he shouldn’t leave things lying about. His toys had been thrown out before, including school projects. It wasn’t her fault if everything wasn’t tidied away. She left his room and went into Sally’s, everything seemed to be in order here. She went to Sally’s wardrobe and took out a few t-shirts, she would add them to her mending pile tonight. She left upstairs, double checking everything on the way back. She sat for a moment, wondering what to do for dinner, she always had two choices just in case the first one didn’t work out. Finally deciding, she stood and got to work. It didn’t do to sit around all day, Jacob would be home soon and expect to see her busy.

Jacob sat in his car. He still hadn’t left the work car park yet. Going home was always so stressful, everything needed to be neat and tidy at all times. They had had a fight about the placement of the couch cushions the other day. He’d moved one behind his back to be more comfortable and she gave out to him for it, the pillows needed to be at the ends of the couch otherwise the balance of the entire room would be off and that was only the latest in a long line of similar lectures. They couldn’t be called arguments because they “didn’t argue” nor discussions because he never got a word in, it was always her, raising her voice to both call attention to the crime committed and to drown out any objections. He wondered what their kids would be like when they lived on their own, would they do the same? He hoped not. He didn’t know how to shield them properly, there was so much she demanded from them. Sighing, he turned on the engine and began to drive home.

Denise carefully placed the cupcakes on the stand, they looked good but today they were no longer purely decorative, she had baked them for the bake sale tomorrow, people would buy them, they always did, she was always the first to sell out. She knew what the other mothers said about her but she didn’t care. They gave out that she was always so perfect, always wearing stylish designer clothing, able to keep her house incredibly clean while looking after two children, it was always the same, even when they were babies. The kids themselves didn’t help with the jealousy, they were the top of everything they did, both got straight A’s, Sally was a champion swimmer and played the violin while Josh always won the science fair. They didn’t give the other people a chance to win or do anything better.

Sally was supposed to be at violin practise but couldn’t stand the damn violin. Instead she wandered, there was nothing else to do. She didn’t have any friends, not really, not ones she could talk to. She looked at her watch, only two more hours before she could go home. She checked her pockets for change and after finding enough she slipped into a café and ordered a hot chocolate, she sat, sipping her drink, fantasising about the day she could leave and give up violin, swimming, everything she hated and never wanted to do.

Denise smiled as she heard the key turn in the lock, Jacob was home, a little late though. Dinner was in the oven, she’d have to put some vegetables on but for now she had some time free. Jacob walked into the kitchen, Denise was pleased to note that he wasn’t wearing his shoes. They spread dirt and it seemed to have taken a long time for that lesson to sink in. She moved from the counter and gently kissed him. “How was your day?” “It was fine, yours?” “Good.” “I’m going to go upstairs to hang up my suit. Don’t want it wrinkling.” Her smile broadened.

The evening passed quietly enough, Josh and Sally coming home on time, they did their homework, then they ate their dinner as a family, then the children were allowed to watch an hour of television before they had to study. After that they went to bed. Denise sat with the mending on her lap, marking off the adjustments she would need to make. Jacob read a book for a while, then turned over and went to sleep. Denise ignored this and continued to work late into the night. Once Jacob had fallen asleep and she had made her marks she carefully got out of bed and went to her sewing room. Sally had started to look a little chubby lately, so Denise was taking in her clothes, she’d be less inclined to snack if she thought they were smaller and that she gained weight. She did this regularly to her family and it worked out well, after all, she didn’t want them to be fat, a terrible affliction that would severely limit them in life. She’d slip them into Sally’s wardrobe in the morning and take a few more clothes to “fix”. None of them suspected it so it was working out well.

In the morning she woke up before everyone else to make breakfast, pancakes today. She had made the batter the night before and now this morning all she needed to do was heat the pan and pour. The best way to raise a family was preparation. She put the slices of bacon under the grill and while the pancakes cooked she laid out toppings. After a few moments the family arrived down, she didn’t need to wake them, they got ready themselves. Sally was already dressed, she was going to school early for swim practise. She looked longingly at the pancakes but instead, opted for an apple and a glass of juice. Denise smiled, good. The family ate slowly, carefully wiping away crumbs as they fell to the table. Denise cleaned the pan and then sat down to enjoy her own breakfast, she had one pancake then had a cereal. She didn’t want to get pudgy herself. The school bake sale was later that day and though all the goods were cooked, she needed to ready herself. After making sure the house was clean she made herself up. Carefully selecting clothes and make up, getting ready to go out into the world, projecting the image that she was perfect and by extension, so was her family.

In work, Jacob looked up divorce proceedings, wondering how he could get the kids but he knew it would be almost impossible, Denise wouldn’t allow it and everyone fell for her perfect façade. They didn’t see her how she was at home, cruel and domineering beneath a thin veneer of kindness. Last night wasn’t too bad, it could almost be called a good day but it was only a matter of time until something made her crack again. Before they left for school and work that morning Josh had pulled him aside, fearfully and quietly explaining she had thrown something out that he needed for school. Jacob had hastily scribbled a note, lest Denise see. She was adamant that the children should learn from their mistakes, that it was their own fault things were thrown away. He sighed then closed the browser and got back to work. Before starting properly for the day he decided he would ring a lawyer at lunch, they had to get away before she poisoned them all.


About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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