a Short Short Story by
Jan Mears Cooper
Maggie peeled the potatoes as if her life depended on it. Her movements were swift and jerky.
“There you are!”
Maggie peeled faster, more potatoes landing in the pile.
“You’re not going to have much potato left if you keep up like that.” Delilah laughed as she sailed into the kitchen.
Maggie stopped and silently counted to ten. When that didn’t calm her down, she continued on to twenty and ended up at fifty. Then she turned around to address her younger sister. “I know how to peel potatoes. I don’t need you to tell me.” She barely gritted her teeth. “I’ve been peeling potatoes a lot longer than you!” She winced inwardly at the shrill sound that came out of her mouth. So much for controlled and calm.
Lilah’s eyes widened at Maggie’s outburst. Lilah tapped her lip, as if she were in deep thought. “I think I know what this is all about.”
“Really? Do tell.” Maggie crossed her arms and waited. Lilah couldn’t possibly know and understand her feelings.
“You’re angry at me because I’m a famous actress.”
Maggie dropped her arms to her side and gasped. “Are you really that clueless?”
Lilah shook her head, “What else could it be?” She gestured to the farmhouse kitchen, including Maggie. “Look at you.”
Maggie glanced down at the hand sewn apron. Her grandmother had made it and she wore it lovingly.
“Now, look at me.” Maggie took a good hard look at her sister. Her jewelry was expensive and her designer dress fit her perfectly. Her perfectly smooth hands weren’t rough from chores, like peeling potatoes.
Maggie looked at the red cracked hands that were showing signs of age. She clenched them. “I want out” she said in a low harsh voice. “I want to sell the farm.”
This time it was Lilah’s turn to be surprised. She jerked back as if slapped. “What? You can’t sell the farm?”
“Why not? It’s not productive and it was Dad’s dream, not ours.”
“But, but, that’s all we’ll have of Mom and Dad.”
Maggie gave her sister a hard stare. “NOW you care? Where were you when Dad died? Where were you when we had to let go of all the workers?” She gripped the counter edge to keep from hitting her sister in rage and frustration. “Where were you when Mom was sick?”
Lilah started to respond but Maggie cut her off, “Yes, yes. You visited the hospital once or twice. But you certainly didn’t stick around.”
“I told you, I had a busy shoot schedule. There wasn’t any way for me to leave for extended time.” She looked out the window, not facing the condemnation on her sister’s face. “I, I couldn’t..” she shrugged helplessly, her voice petering out.
The two sisters were silent, lost in their own thoughts, far away from each other as possible. Finally Lilah sighed and took Maggie’s hand. “I want you to sell it to me. I want to own the farm and keep it in the family. It’s your turn to fly.”
Maggie blinked back her tears and nodded. “You can start by finishing these potatoes.”