Glaring at her, I rubbed my cheek. It was the first time my Mother had ever raised a hand to me. A teenager, full of rage and uncertainty was leading me into trouble. As an adult, I now feel I deserved it. That’s how I was feeling right now.
In the Nursing Home, my Beautiful Mother was wandering the Dementia Ward. She had forgotten that slap, but I hadn’t. It had been a turning point in my life. I’d arrived at adulthood much more certain, much more grounded and appreciating all my Mother did for me.
I placed the bunch of flowers in the vase, fussing over how they were arranged, until a famillar figure came ambling into the room. Picking up the vase, I carried it to the private bathroom that was attached to the room. Half filling it with water, I listened as Mum clambered into bed.
It was a moment I’d been dreading, when she would forget my name, and who I was.
Then I heard a chuckle, as I came back out, and positioned the vase on the bedside table.
“Remember that time when I slapped you? You were so furious. Sometimes I wonder how I managed to raise a daughter like you, who even visits me everyday, no matter how crazy I am. My how the tables have turned.
Happy to have her lucid today, I returned the chuckle.
I had this system for getting exactly what I wanted out of people.
My tail would curl skywards, my eyes take on a particular pleading quality and my meow would sound proud but starved. It worked every time.
Today, my victim was the family’s three year old.
Recently, I’d been watching him with Karl, the family dog. Charlie would get the scoop out of the second drawer in the kitchen, follow his father out of the house and to the big tin bin. Stan would then take the lid off the tin, and Charlie would dig the scoop into the dog biscuits. With a squeal of pure joy, he’d pour the biscuits into the dog bowl as Karl would watch on.
It got me thinking.
What if Charlie could get me food?
Today was my day.
Sauntering into the kitchen, I saw Charlie alone. With my high pitched I’m hungry mew, tail curled at just the right angle, my pleading eyes fixated on him. His beatufiul blues fixated on mine.
Yes, oh yes.
He smiled, then used a chair to climb onto the kitchen table. Pulling a bowl of cereal off the table, its contents spilled everywhere. My eyes darted to the Weet Bix and milk, sloshing all over the floor.
It was not what I wanted. I wanted my cat food. Glancing up to the bench, I noticed an unopened tin.
She smiled as the clay whirled underneath her skilled hands. The pottery wheel hummed as the Artisan worked, spinning the lump of dense soil into a vessel. A dusty stool helped her crouch over the knee high tool, allowing her to sit close enough to work without hurting her back.
Inside the Artisan Shop, fine pots, mugs, plates, dishes, tyreens, and all sorts of crockery filled every surface. Some were the dull red of the local clay, many were glazed. Centaurs played alongside elves while unicorns frolicked across wide serving platters.
The hessian sack, hung in the doorway for a little privacy from the street, flicked aside and a young boy ran inside. “Aunty, Aunty…” he panted, before coming to a halt in front of the pottery wheel.
Footsteps hurried after him, and a girl child crashed into him.
“He stole from me, Aunty,” she sulked.
The boy turned his back to the Potter and the Artisan saw his tongue poke out at his sister.
The humming of the Pottery Wheel ceased, and she turned her attention to the two children.
“What happened. You two were playing so nicely earlier. What is this confusion?”
The girl and boy talked all at once, their voices bubbling with fact and fiction.
The Potter stood up and beckoned to both children.
“Have you forgotten your manners? Tell me, why were you sent to me in the first place.”
Hanging their heads, the boy blushing, the girl sneaking a sideways look at him and clasping his hand to comfort him, they fell silent.
The Artisan continued, “Isn’t it Mother’s Day? What present have you both?”
Silence greeted her.
“Out of all the items you see in my shop, which do you think your Mum would like the best? Work together you two.”
Brother and sister walked around the shop together, heads together as they whispered, working on the task at hand – picking the nicest gift for their Mother.
Finally, after several laps of the little front room which served as the front of the business, the boy reached up and reverently picked up a humble red teapot. Shyly, he peeked a look at his sister. She nodded.
The Artisan Potter smiled at her sister’s two children.
“I’m proud of you. You worked well together. Take it to your Mother as your gift to her.”
The boy wrapped his palms around the little teapot, securing it even more by holding it close to his small chest. His sister led the way out past the hessian sack.
The Artisan sat back at her wheel. Job done, she was content to finish the dish she had started. The humming became louder as the wheel picked up speed, clay whirring between her wet palms once more.