Wednesday Stew – A Flash Fiction

17 Sep

This is one of the first tiny stories I wrote. I have been working on a small collection of Steam Punk flash fiction (and just decided to do another one on a zombie theme). This one will be in it.

Let me know what you think. 🙂

Here are some storm clouds to set the mood for you. :D

Here are some storm clouds to set the mood for you. 😀

*            *            *

Wednesday Stew

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Andrew splashed through the muddy streets as the rain fell in bucket sized drops around him. All he could think about was his permanent room at the boarding house, and the hearty stew and corn bread Mrs. Lester made on Wednesdays. With his overnight bag thumping against his back with every bound, he leaped over the more treacherous mud holes in the pitted dirt road toward his home away from home.

Getting to the steps he scrubbed his boots good and well before opening the door, and letting the warm, goodness of her cooking envelope him. Life as a Dirigible Captain had its rough parts, but making it to Mrs. Lester’s dining room was the welcome respite at the apex of every week.

Dropping his bag beside the bench in the entry hall, and hanging his dripping coat and hat on the hooks above it Andrew was very thankful that he had one of the few steady routes. It took two days to take supplies and passengers from Spelling, Connecticut to Tellana, Georgia, and two days back again. If things went smoothly. If they didn’t…well, then he dealt with things, and made it to his midweek lodgings to find a small cast iron pot of stew with a crust of cornbread over the top sitting in the oven. The meat and vegetables may change every week, but the mouth watering aroma, and the made with love attention to taste did not.

“Is that Mr. Anderson I hear stomping about out there?” Called his hostess.

“It is, Mrs. Lester. I made it back for your good cookin’.”

“Sweet talker.” She chided, but he could hear the smile in her voice before he made it through the sitting room and into the dining room to see it on her face. She had set the huge pot on the trivet next to her seat, and was waiting for him with her arms wide for a hug. Andrew wrapped his arms around her and lifted her slightly off her feet, inhaling the wonderful smell of cinnamon and soap that clung to the plump old woman.

“You should get a wife. Then you wouldn’t be so eager for my poor fare.”

Setting her back on the floor, he grinned and said, “If I could find a girl who cooked as well as you, I would marry her on the spot.”

She waggled a finger at him. “Careful, one of these days a young lady might think you’re serious with that offer.”

“I am!” Putting a hand to his heart and striking a poets pose, he proclaimed, “Beauty fades, charm is fleeting. But a woman who can cook? She’s a woman worth keeping.”

Mrs. Lester gave his arm a playful slap. “Sit down. I don’t want you to have to eat cold food.”

Andrew chose his regular seat, and a maid came out of the kitchen with a fresh plate of biscuits, and a bowl, spoon and cup for him.

While pouring himself a glass of lemonade he exchanged small pleasantries with the six random passers-by who were seated around the table, all a little taken aback by the sudden change in their stoic hostess. Bustling around, she came and filled his bowl to almost overflowing, then went back to every other guest and asked if they would like a little more. “You’ll want to top off if you even might have a little room for more. Mr. Anderson here, could eat an entire pot of this on his own. So, just make sure you put away your fair share before he finishes it all off.”

Andrew chuckled, and split open a corn biscuit and slathered it with soft yellow butter. Biting into it, he sighed as the sweetness of the corn meal blended with the sharp saltiness of the creamy butter. After finishing it off with six bites, he dove head first into the long awaited bowl of stew. It took a few moments, but he began to realize that there was something different about this week’s batch. When he finally came up for air, about half way through the bowl, he asked, “Mrs. Lester, what did you do differently?”

“To what, dear?”

“To the stew? There’s something different.”

“Oh, it’s just the usual in-dey-go Wednesday stew.”

“Well whatever you did, I like it.”

“That’s good. Now eat the rest before it gets cold.”

Giving a mock salute with his spoon, he said, “Yes, Ma’am.”

The other occupants of the room seemed a little bemused, but after seeing how quickly Andrew had put away that bowl of food, they each in turn asked for those seconds they had been too prim to accept.

It took three bowls of stew and five biscuits of satisfy his hunger. With a hand on his belly, and a smile on his face, he congratulated Mrs. Lester on surpassing herself.

“Well, thank you, honey, but I didn’t cook it.”

Confusion flickered across his face. “If you didn’t…”

“’Tilda, sugar, could you come out here for a moment?”

As the maid once again entered the room, Andrew stood to his feet. Crossing to her side, he asked, “Did you cook dinner?”

Shyly the petite, brown haired, brown eyed Matilda nodded her head. “Yes, sir, I did.”

“What’s your full name and age?”

“Matilda Jane Ashcroft, I turned 19 last week.”

“Nineteen. That’s a good age. Do you do anything besides cook?”

“Oh, yes. Mrs. Lester has been training me to do all sorts of things around this old place. And Mama already made sure I can sew, knit, mend, clean, cook, garden. Just last month we canned the fruit preserves from our…”

“And you cooked this delicious dinner.”

Looking into his eyes with a hint of puzzlement in her own, she said, “Yes, sir, we already established that fact.”

Chuckling he said, “Yes, we did. Miss Ashcroft, is your Daddy still alive?”

“Yes. Why?”

“Because I believe I have a question to ask him in the morning.” Picking up her hand he kissed the palm. Turning to Mrs. Lester he said, “You, Madam, are one smart woman. You have bested a confirmed bachelor. Congratulations.”

Mrs. Lester just sat there and chuckled.

*            *            *

😀 What did you think?

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5 Responses to “Wednesday Stew – A Flash Fiction”

  1. The Story Reading Ape September 17, 2013 at 2:45 am #

    Excellent – and I could almost TASTE the stew LOL 🙂

    Like

  2. ReGi McClain September 17, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

    LOL That was great! May the protagonist and his little cook enjoy many long years of marriage!

    Did you ever watch Everyoody Loves raymond? Apparently, the old man proposed to his wife because of a specific dish she prepared. Her cooking came up as a frequent theme, leading to many funny incidents.

    Like

    • rosedandrea September 17, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

      I both liked and despised Everybody Loves Raymond.
      On the one hand I enjoyed watching the actor who played the grandfather. Some of the episodes were fun. But after a while it just got so bogged down with uncomfortable situations and I have a little too much empathy to watch without squirming.
      I also didn’t enjoy the idea that Raymond’s wife was always right. Never enjoyed America’s representations of husbands/fathers as bumbling idiots. :/

      My favorite episode, I think, was when Grandma was on a low cholesterol diet and made a tofurkey for Thanksgiving. lol That was hilarious. 😀

      Like

      • ReGi McClain September 17, 2013 at 10:49 pm #

        🙂 Yeah. That show was the one I’d watch if nothing else decent on. My favorite, favorite episode ever was the one when Amie tries to give Raymond and his parents marriage advice. 😀

        Like

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