June 12, 2008
By Rachael Graham, Murray Bridge, ZZ

Today was one of those days that you just want to stay in bed. Or next to the fire, curled up with a nice warm cup of your mum’s homemade chicken soup. But today was not going to be one of those days. Today, Aunt Bessie was coming. Rich Aunt Bessie. Where do I start to explain Aunt Bessie? Three kids, Sam, Max and Charlie. Sam, 16, and already owns his own race car! Max, 14, you can’t put one toe out of line around Max without hearing “MUM!” he’s always has been a taddle-tail. And then there was Charlie, her and her perfect little dresses, and her pretty little hair ribbons. Never have quite understood why she bothers with it all. Give me a flannelette shirt and a pair of trackies any day. But no, not for Aunt Bessie’s children. No, nothing but the best for them. But that’s nothing like mum and me though. Mum and me have always had to make do with what we had, dollar here or a penny there. I didn’t mind though, I like it this way. But today mum was trying to make it look we were better-off than Aunt Bessie, which clearly we weren’t. Nevertheless, Mum didn’t really seem to care that she looked like a try-hard; she just wanted the house to look lovely and well, rich.

“SALLY, WHERE’S THE GOOD CROCKERY?” Crockery, as in tableware? Plates and dishes? How was I supposed to know? But I humoured her.
“TRY LOOKING IN THE CUPBOARD UNDER THE COFFEE CUPS,” I shouted back to the loud voice coming from the disarray of the kitchen.
“FOUND THEM.” So the crockery was a ‘them’ now. She was referring to it like it was part of the family. I wasn’t aware that it was alive. Anyway back to explaining Aunt Bessie. Aunt Bessie came to be rich by inheriting her late husband’s fortune, which in my opinion came about very quickly after their marriage. Fair is foul, and foul is fair, I say. The poor old blighter never saw it coming; he was too deep in his love for Bettie Elizabeth James. Pity she wasn’t. That dirty old good for nothing ruthless… what are you saying Sally… pull yourself together woman. That is no way to speak about the woman who murdered your mother’s brother just to gain his good-fortune. SALLY, that’s enough, she’ll be here any minute. DING-DONG. There now you see, she’s here. She’s here, but there’s so much more that needs to be done. The dishes, the garden, the, the. It was too late, she was here and there was nothing anyone could do about it.
“Bessie, come in come in, have a seat. Would you li…” it was official. Mum had lost it. I mean she was actually treating this woman like she was part of the family. Aunt Bessie was anything but part of the family. She was more like that kid, you know the one. That kid that always comes around thinking that they’re part of the family but really the family’s just too nice to tell them that they’re not welcome. And when they do there’s that awkward silence, and then they won’t leave. That was how to explain Aunt Bessie.
“Sally, come entertain the children while Aunt Bessie and mum chat.” When mum said come entertain the children while Aunt Bessie and mum chat, she didn’t mean chat as in a conversation. She meant chat as in, come entertain the children while Aunt Bessie tells mum all about that new lounge that she just bought, oh and don’t forget that new Lamborghini Lagarto sitting in the driveway. Aunt Bessie just couldn’t wait to rub salt in mum’s wounds. She always enjoyed reminding her of how rich she was, even though we were struggling to scrape through paying the rent each week. Except, Aunt Bessie didn’t seem to care about how we were doing. She only cared about herself. Oh and how Charlie is playing the violin now, a glass one, cost a pretty penny it did 21,000 USD, but nothing but the best for her Charlie. Oh and how her sister’s next door neighbour won the lotto, 6.2 million they got. Aren’t they lucky? Mum was nearly in tears. It was time for me to step in and come to the rescue.

“Tea?” Although I was not really sure how to make tea. Oh well there’s always time to learn, as mum would say.
“That’s a brilliant idea Sally. How do you have it Bessie?” and with that mum was in the kitchen and back at the kitchen table with a pot full of tea, a jug of milk and a pot of sugar cubes. Sugar cubes? Since when did we have sugar cubes? Mum must have got them to impress Aunt Bessie. Just between you and me… I don’t think it worked. At the end of a day that I didn’t spend in bed with a nice warm cup of mum’s homemade chicken soup, Aunt Bessie finally decided that her and the kids best be going. Thank god, I have been saved. If I had to spend another minute with those people, mum’s brother may not be the only one who died an involuntary death.

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