Family Lies Chapter 2

Drawing of a partly-built brick wall with a sign saying: "Under construction." Caption reads: "Work in progress."

Family Lies Chapter 2: Lunch chapter of work in progress by Iris Carden

Emily carried the tray into her mother’s sitting room.

“I thought we might have lunch together, if that’s OK,” she said.

Elsie had been watching the television.  She turned her head to look at Emily, and gave a small smile. “What’s your name, dear?” she asked.

Emily pulled the wheeled meal trolley over in front of her mother, and adjusted it to the right height.  She put the lunch tray down in front of her, and then took her own plate and glass and sat them on the coffee table next to a second arm chair, where she sat.

“My name’s Emily,” she said, introducing herself to her mother for what seemed like the thousandth time.

“I’ve got a daughter named Emily,” Elsie said, “she never comes to visit me though.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.  I’m sure she would come if she could.”

“Oh corned beef and pickle sandwiches.  These are my favourite” Elsie had changed the subject again, as she often did. She had trouble following a conversation.

“They’re my mother’s favourite, too,” Emily said.

“My husband doesn’t like them,” Elsie said.  “He doesn’t like sandwiches.  He says I have to cook him a proper lunch.”

“Oh?” Emily said.  “What’s a proper lunch?”

“Meat and veggies.  He wants meat and veggies for every meal.  He’s a busy man and I have to make sure his meals are ready when he wants them or he’ll be angry.”

From the snippets Emily heard about her father, she was glad she’d never met him.  She suspected he and her ex-husband might have got along well.

“Oh well, he’s not here, so we can have whatever we want for lunch,” Emily said, conspiratorially.

“Oh yes, let’s just have what we want. We won’t tell Henry. Maybe we can have ice cream and jelly as well.”

“I don’t know if we’ve got any jelly made, but we can definitely have ice cream after we finish our sandwiches.”  Emily reflected sadly, that talking to her mother now was almost like talking to her daughters had been when they were toddlers.  Even though Elsie was alive and physically fairly well, and sitting in front of her, Emily grieved the loss of the mother who had been so strong, so resilient, and whose mind had been so sharp.

They ate their sandwiches in silence for a while.  Then Elsie asked: “What’s your name again dear?”

“I’m Emily.”

“Really? I have a daughter named Emily.”

“You told me about her,” Emily answered, sadly.

“Did I? She’s very smart.  She’s got a degree.  I never knew anyone with a degree before and she worked so hard for it. Even my husband only had a teaching certificate.  They didn’t need degrees back when he started. Emily was the first person I knew to get a degree.“

“You must be very proud of her.”

“Oh I am very proud of her. But she never comes to see me.  I think she’s too busy.  She’s got a husband to look after now, and little children.”  

The little children were now thirty, twenty-seven and twenty-four.  Two of them had children of their own.  

“That does sound like she’s got her hands full,” Emily said.

“I worry about her., Elsie whispered.  “I think that awful husband beats her, just like Henry used to beat me.”

She’d known, Emily realised.  Back when she thought she was alone, when she thought no-one knew, her mother had known.

Chapters of Family Lies

Note, this is the first draft. What eventually is published as a book (if it is published as a book), will be edited, rewritten, and re-edited, and may not have much in common with this first draft.

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By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.


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