Angela Amman

Molting

– Posted in: Fiction

Thursday evening heat and humidity wove together in the perfect balance, a rarity for a Midwestern summer. Margo used the weather as an excuse to draw her family together on the deck, carrying polka-dotted plastic plates and platters from the air-conditioned kitchen into the balmy air.

“Honey? Is the bacon almost done?” Margo asked. With careless precision coming from years of repetition, she filled glasses with lemonade and arranged food on platters to the most convenient locations.

He nodded, tugging awkwardly at the apron he wore to make Margo happy, tired eyes still able to appreciate the effort she made to keep her legs toned under pristine white shorts.

Bacon on the grill was a chore, and Josh had good-naturedly attempted to sneak the steaks from the freezer before Margo swatted him out of the door with her spatula.

Janie was only home from college for a few nights, and Margo had expertly pulled together her favorite meal. Fresh bread, baked that morning before the afternoon sun drenched the kitchen with heat, rested in thick slices next to the ruby meat of garden tomatoes.

Adjusting the bag of frozen peas resting on her sore knee, Janie lifted her eyes from her book.

“Mom. I’m not eating that.”

Margo’s palms began to sweat. She wiped them on a cloth napkin, pretending she’d spilled something.

“Hmm? Not your favorite anymore?” she struggled to keep her voice even and her eyes off the unnatural way Janie’s clavicles cut through the thinness of her t-shirt. The old shirt was from a concert sophomore year of high school, but this summer Janie was swimming in it.

“I just don’t eat pork anymore,” Janie apologized, though her eyes rested on the jar of mayonnaise and heavy white bread.

“I’ll just whip you up an LT, then!”

“Yuck Mom. No thanks.”

Josh didn’t need the look up to feel the plea radiating from his wife’s eyes.
“Jane. Your mom grew those tomatoes just for you, babe,” he teased, setting the bacon platter on the table, grease staining the tablecloth.

“Then I’ll eat the tomatoes,” she shot back.

The temperature at the table dropped a few degrees as Janie speared a thick slice of tomato, deliberately cutting it into miniscule bites.

Red juice pooled on her plate, the untouched tomato serenaded by cicadas hiding in trees above the deck, eager to shed their skins for something new.

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood

the prompt:

Plump tomatoes, salty bacon, crisp lettuce, soft bread, this week we want you to be inspired by the BLT.

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Angela

Hi there & thanks for reading! I'm Angela Amman, and I'm a freelance writer, lifestyle blogger and managing editor of an on-line writing community. I run for fun, write short stories and write non-fiction looking at the world through the lens of a mother to quickly growing children.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

shelton keys dunning February 17, 2012, 1:37 am

Oh heavens, the sullen youth.The patio in June so, so perfect. Excellent!

@MryJhnsn from iNeedaPlaydate February 17, 2012, 5:05 am

Oh, teenage angst… Wonderful descriptions! You really captured the moment.

Angela February 17, 2012, 7:08 am

Thank you :) There’s a lot lurking under that angst.

Diane Tarantini February 17, 2012, 5:45 am

Man, there’s nothing like an uppity teenager to ruin a mom’s loving efforts.
I was sure Janie was going to proclaim she was suddenly a vegetarian. The eating disorder was an unexpected twist.
The t-shirt sentence was great “showing.” As was the cutting of the tomato into tiny bites but not eating it.
Question: What happened to Janie’s knee?

Angela February 17, 2012, 7:08 am

She hurt it and keeps running on it anyway; I actually introduced her in one other short piece, but I didn’t link because I’m not quite sure of the time line for the story. If you’re interested, this is the other piece:

http://www.angelaamman.com/2012/01/lies.html

(And thanks for the comment about the t-shirt and the showing!)

Cheryl @ Mommypants February 17, 2012, 8:01 am

I loved the ending. And you did a great job of showing, not telling, using descriptions about the shirt and the clavicle, and of course cutting the tomato into tiny pieces.

What a nightmare for a parent, watching a child try to disappear..

Angela February 17, 2012, 8:15 am

Thanks Cheryl! The possible storyline is compelling. I’m trying to put it on the back burner until I at least make some progress on Greta, but you know I’m struggling there :(

Mrs. Jen B February 17, 2012, 8:26 am

Oh wow, I just loved this. You made me go back to the beginning and start all over again, after reading the first story in which you introduced her, this time reading it through more knowing eyes. I hope you pursue this story and keep me riveted.

Angela February 17, 2012, 6:03 pm

Thanks Jen! I’m supposed to be working on my NaNo project; this is a little distracting because I’m interested in them.

Kir February 17, 2012, 9:53 am

it’s beautiful…and heartbreaking. The cicadas serenading was a perfect touch to the end. I could hear them singing them as her parents went mute.

it’s REALLY good Ang.

Angela February 17, 2012, 6:00 pm

Thanks Kir! xo I listened to different things, and that worked the best, I think.

SAM February 17, 2012, 12:11 pm

I love the last lines with the tomatos being seranaded by the cicadas and looking to shed their skins.

Angela February 17, 2012, 5:59 pm

Thank you! My husband thought I was crazy listening to sound bites of cicadas :)

Cameron February 17, 2012, 1:59 pm

You show so much with a subtle hand. The nervous mother, the weary dad, the sulle, defensive, damaged child.

And the lovely , false suface image of a family enjoying a warm summer night.

Angela February 17, 2012, 5:58 pm

I’m glad the contrast came through. I was a little worried the balance would be off. Too much mayo, so to speak.

Nancy M. Campbell February 17, 2012, 3:50 pm

This? Is good. Really powerful. That last line, about the shedding of the skin. That’s a symbol in a half.

And, as noted above, your showing details are perfect.

Oh, how incredibly hard this would be…on every side.

Angela February 17, 2012, 5:55 pm

Thank you :) I can’t imagine having to watch a child go through something like this. I think I’d feel so inadequate and try to force the issue :(

Carrie February 17, 2012, 7:01 pm

So much said with such subtlty. I’ve definitely got a sense that Jane is dealing with some major eating issues.

Nicely done

Angela February 17, 2012, 8:45 pm

Thanks Carrie. I wasn’t expecting her to go anywhere, really, but I’m becoming more interested each time I think about her story.

Anastasia February 18, 2012, 4:57 am

I love it. I like how you explain the mom’s concerns without actually coming right out and saying it. This is a fear I have for my daughters and it seemed very real while reading.

Angela February 19, 2012, 6:00 pm

Body image issues are terrifying for me. It’s one part of having a girl that worries me all the time.

Mandy February 18, 2012, 1:17 pm

I think what hit me the hardest was the parents’ desparation. One of my sisters suffered from an eating disorder in high school. I still remember that feeling of panic I had when she visited me and wouldn’t eat. I tried everything – spending money I didn’t have on her favorite foods, taking her to restaurants, anything to get her to eat.

And watching her pick apart her food and, at one point, dropping it and walking away crying, made me sick and cringe and pray.

You captured that with the parents here. Enough to make me slightly anxious myself.

Angela February 19, 2012, 5:58 pm

I’m sorry to stir up those old memories, Mandy. I can’t imagine actually going through that with someone and really wanting to help them and not having the real tools to do it, since they have to want the help :( It terrifies me about girls.

Jen Has A Pen February 19, 2012, 2:46 pm

What a really cool spin on the prompt. I’m generally pretty unhealthy. I eat what I want without concern for consequence, but I fear raising my kids with that example. How do you balance promoting healthy eating habits without creating body image issues for them, ya know?

This is the first time I’ve been to your site since the revamp (from my computer anyway- I read from my phone a lot, but couldn’t see the new design that way). I really like it. I like the flexibility you have with the new title too!

Angela February 19, 2012, 5:34 pm

Jen, Thank you so much!

And the eating/body image/healthy thing? I struggle with it all the time, both for myself and for the example I worry about setting for Abbey. It’s always on my mind.

Erin Margolin February 19, 2012, 8:28 pm

gorgeous. vivid. i hate tomatoes, but i love BLT’s and this made me want one!

can’t wait to meet you, Angela. Oh, and am doing a guest post for Nicole (@ByWordsMusings) and am linking to you. Not sure when she is posting it, though.

Angela February 20, 2012, 5:52 pm

Aw, thanks Erin! Only a few more days until we can chat in person!