Sunday, 3 April 2016

Open Invitation

I can not thank you enough for opening yourselves up to me; its been such a long time since I've feasted like this.”
It's my… our pleasure! I must admit, we… well, he was a bit wary when we opted to take part in the AhGristo campaign to help the elderly.” Janet was actually overjoyed for her wish had finally come true; a proper family gathering. Three generations; so what if the son's were John's from another marriage and this lady was just a stranger.. one made do.
Now, hang on a minute, Janet.” John interceded. “We were both anxious about who would be knocking on our door.”
Shush, John.” John was a typical head-of-the-household husband and, although Janet didn't always agree (and actually felt stifled by it all now), she did choose him, and with open eyes this time. Once bitten, twice shy. “We've got to be welcoming to… oh, I'm sorry, I never asked you for your name. That must seem terribly rude.”
Not at all, please call me Lill.” The name suited her, thought John, who still wasn't warm to the idea of inviting a complete stranger into their home. There was no telling who this woman was. She seemed the rotund granny type, to be sure, but there was a sickness behind the eyes that he couldn't place.
Lill…That's a nice old fashioned name.” Janet replied, simpering. And it was the simpering, second only to the dejected, forlorn puppy act that John despised. When he'd initially said no to the gravyboat campaign Janet played that card to the hilt. It was either give into her or smack her, and he'd vowed never to hit another woman again.
Oh.. it's the oldest of names, my dear.” Lill chuckled.
Edward… Morrie – you must call her Granny Lill, if that's ok, Lill.” Janet continued simpering.
Thank you, dear. I'm awfully touched.”
Now, hang on a minute, love.” John interceded again. “Now, that 's not on. You'll not go making them sort of decisions; they're not your kids, remember.”
But please, dad.” Edward pleaded.
Yes, dad. Please let us call her Granny Lill.” Morrie agreed.
See, John. They've never known the love of a grandparent before; it can only do them good.”
John could feel something inside him start to seethe. If it was going to be like this all night then he would have to start drinking again. Lill had kept very quiet, very still; just a funny semi-smile on her lips.
John agreed, what else could he do? But it set the pace for the rest of the evening.Lill played the perfect guest, complimenting Janet on the food, which was -as usual- passable, at best.
Thank you, Lill. I know it's not much and I know that John barely puts up with it, so it's so nice to hear that you like it… even if it is a lie.”
A lie?” Lill seemed shocked. “Oh, I don't lie, my dear. I have no need to lie. Only cowards and cheats lie, wouldn't you agree John?” John blanched at this and was about to retort but a look from Janet stopped him.Edward and Morrie sniggered at this. “Well, you two can go to bed.” John snapped, needing to take it out on somebody.
They can stay, John. They're not tired yet.” Lill replied and Janet agreed.
John stood up, shocked by what he had just heard. “Excuse me, who the hell do you think you are telling me what to do with my children?”
Oh, shush now John, and sit down.” Janet said simply. “You're embarrassing Lill.. and me. The kids can stay down for a little longer.”
He didn't know what was going on, but this wasn't like Janet and he didn't like it at all.
Anyway dear.” Lill continued. “I don't need to lie, I speak my mind.”
Yes, we'd noticed.”
John, shut up!” Janet snapped. “Go and dish up dessert.”
It doesn't matter to me, Janet dear. But thank you all the same. Yes, I'm opinionated, but when you've lived as long as I have you don't care as much. People take you any way they can anyway. I enjoyed your cooking and appreciate all that you've done for me.” John had had enough of all the girl bonding and walked out into the kitchen as instructed. As he left he could hear Lill say, “but I think it's time that you were appreciated a bit more by others.”

When he walked back into the dining room he was shocked to find Janet in tears.
What the hell have you been saying, you vicious old crone?”
Don't you dare talk to her like that!” Janet snapped back. “She's actually opened my eyes to what you're really like. I can't believe I've been such a fool all these years.”
There was a look in her eyes that John had never seen before. An intent and a flicker of something else. As she spoke her voice became louder when she'd always been so quiet and meek before.
You have never given a shit about me before, John, just as long as I cooked and cleaned without getting under your feet. As long as the meals are cooked and you can leave your mess about then you don't even think about me.” John was still standing by the door, he hadn't moved. He didn't know what to do, there was no telling how Janet might act in this state. But there was something else, he was worried about what the kids would think, how they might react.. but he couldn't see them.
Janet continued, shouting now. “And the kids are no better; all they see me as is a food dispenser. Nothing but a bloody brood-mare, and you never help me. You all make a mess, expect me to clean up after you. Feed you, entertain you. The only love you show me, once a week for five minutes; if you can manage that! And for that I slog my guts out.. for twenty years! Twenty sodding years! Well, no more John. No more!”
Where are the kids, Janet?” He was concerned, apart from Janet's rants the dining room was quiet and he couldn't see them.He took a step forward.
Lill was still sitting next to Janet, not moving; looking at Janet serenely.He took another step forward.
Damnit John! You're not listening to me!” She slammed her fists down on the table and he now saw the kitchen knife, grasped tightly. Her knuckles white, the blade crimson. There was blood on her hand, her arm and the floor was slick with blood.
No… oh no.. what have you done?” Was all he could say, all he could see as he made a dash for the table.
He never saw Janet swing the knife at him, only felt it slice into his flesh. He turned in sheer disbelief; disbelieving even as she stabbed him hard and deep; unrelenting, one blow for each year of torment.

It was a rare opportunity to walk the mortal realm, but one that Lillith still savoured. It was even rarer to be offered such a meal, but even she had to agree that indeed, everything tasted better with AhGristro!

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