BRENDA’S ULTIMATUM ( SHORT STORY)
Stephen asked his cousin, Lexi, to go outside with him, ostensibly to show her the interior of his new VW Audi but actually to slip her some money. Unknown to him, Brenda, his wife was watching them from the living room window.
Ten minutes later, Lexi came back from the nearby eatery with a bowl of ice cream and some cupcakes. She had spent the entire N1,000 Stephen gave her. She sat on the Audi’s bonnet and began to eat while Stephen chatted with her.
Brenda had gone to check on her twins, Kachi and Buchi, chopping and blending ingredients in the kitchen but she was curious about what she had seen earlier. So she went to look out the living room window again and was scandalised by the sight before her. Unable to hold herself, she marched out to confront her husband.
(Related: Loyalty Wins)
“Sweetheart, what is going on here?”
“Nothing. We’re just taking some fresh air.”
“You know that is not what I’m talking about. What is she eating?”
Stephen didn’t like his wife’s tone. She was talking about Lexi like she wasn’t there and she wasn’t even using her name. But he didn’t want a fight, so he replied, “Looks to me like ice cream and cake. What does it look like to you?” Perhaps, a little humour will help. But Brenda wasn’t in a laughing mood.
“Why are you giving your cousin money to buy snacks when I’m about to cook?”
“About to cook! Brenda is almost noon. If Lexi is hungry, I don’t see why she shouldn’t do something about it. But you’re wrong … I didn’t give her any money.”
“Come on, honey, I saw you give her some money.”
“Spying on me now?”
“No, but I wonder why you felt it necessary to bring her outside to hand it over. You obviously knew that what you were doing was wrong.”
“No, I just wanted to prevent this particular argument we’re having now.”
“Your 17-year-old cousin who does not do any chore in the house cannot wait for food on a Saturday morning. You have to send her out for pastries. Is she that delicate or you just want to show that she is more important to you than me and our kids, as young as they are?”
“She is not more important than you guys. She’s just not used to your boot camp approach to life.”
“I don’t care whether she’s been living in the lap of luxury her whole life. If she’s going to stay here while studying on campus, she has to adapt to our lifestyle. There’s even nothing unusual about what we’re doing here. Housecleaning is done on Saturday mornings and everyone needs to pitch in. I won’t have the twins waiting on her hand and foot when there’s an eight-year gap between them. And you don’t spend on her like this again. If she doesn’t like it here, she should call her multimillionaire dad, your uncle, to set her up somewhere else in the style she’s accustomed to.”
(Related: Knowing When Enough is Enough)
As Brenda walked back to the house, Lexi started crying and Stephen sprang to hold and comfort her. A few minutes later, he followed his wife back into the house while the twins darted from the back door to join Lexi. He met Brenda completing the dusting of the furniture she was at before the whole drama began.
“Darling, that was an awful display you put on out there. And what makes you think you can give me an ultimatum like that?”
“The ultimatum, as you choose to call it, is for your cousin,” Brenda replied as she straightened up. Not one to be idle for a minute, she began fluffing up and repositioning their throw pillows.
[bctt tweet=”This #story illustrates how we can govern the tempers often charged by #family life.” username=”edithohaja1″]
“Maybe it’s time for things to change around here. None of us is finding it easy at all. When you’re in the zone, as you often are, you are scarier than a drill sergeant. I think it’s time you focused on being a wife and mother.”
“I like the house to be run efficiently. I can’t have some stranger coming in and upsetting the order I’ve established here.”
“Look, I appreciate what you are doing but you just need to cut us some slack sometimes. I’m not saying this because of Lexi. She’ll only be here for a while. I’m saying it for me and the twins.”
“You want a little slack, but everyone gets to help out when there’s work to be done?”
(Related: Either SUV or Burst!)
Stephen’s next move took his wife by surprise. He closed the distance between them in quick strides and scooped her up into his arms. After he’d planted a kiss on her left temple, he tried to turn her around for more but she wriggled free and ran into the kitchen. He chased after her and collided with the kitchen table upending the tray of ingredients the twins had prepared.
“There goes your breakfast!” He went and opened the front door. “Come on, everyone, get ready. We’re eating out,” he announced.
The twins, who had been eating with Lexi, squealed in delight. The younger of the two, Buchi, grabbed the ice cream bowl and bolted indoors. The older, Kachi, wanted to pursue him but Lexi offered her the last cupcake. They both went in to prepare for their outing.
“Hi!” Brenda threw to Lexi as she came to drop the paper bag the cakes came in into the trash can in the kitchen.
“Hi!” Lexi replied.
“We better hurry or your cousin will make us walk.” The same guy who just called me a drill sergeant!
“Yes,” Lexi replied, remembering how she and Brenda walked to church the previous Sunday for being late. She smiled and they both rushed towards their bedrooms.
Ⓒ Edith Ugochi Ohaja 2017
[bctt tweet=”Brenda’s Ultimatum is #flashfiction about the give and take that #family life requires.” username=”edithohaja1″]
Would love to hear from you.
You’ve probably seen disagreements and arguments in your own family. Care to give us an example (what it was about and how it was resolved)?
Do you have any “drill sergeant” in your family? What do you like and what do you dislike about their behaviour?
Do you have any Lexis among your siblings or cousins? How do you relate with them? (If you’re a Lexi yourself, tell us how you get along with others.)
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