Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Dread Mother's Curse

Get to know Mary and Dave Donohue and their families by reading their Back Story, or what authors like to call "Info Dump." 
When they were younger, the Donohue children complained one day that they didn't like sitting in the front of the chapel during church. Echoing what her own mother used to say about sitting up front, Mary said,  "I can hear better in the front."  Mary knew the children could pay attention better there, too.
Then, as the old saying goes, "history repeats itself," her daughter, Becky, when she was thirteen, complained she hated sitting up front because all the people would stare at the back of her head during sacrament meeting.
"Yeah...that's what they're doing. They're staring at your head," Mary retorted. Becky rolled her eyes at Mary. Mary smiled to herself. The Mother's Curse. She's my mother's curse.
Mary woke up on her thirteenth birthday and had mysteriously turned into her parallel universe self overnight. She came down for breakfast with a churlish smirk on her face and grumpy retort for everything said at the breakfast table.
Then, she did the unthinkable: she talked back to her mother.
There was a pall over the kitchen.  It became silent at once as all eight children looked at Mary with mouths dropped open. They slowly looked at their mother, wondering what would happen next.  Mary’s mouth would not stop until her mother interrupted—
"Mary, I'm going to do something I promised myself I would never do," she began, lifting her chin in the air, and pointing her wooden spoon at her that was, until that moment, mixing the batter for Mary’s own birthday cake.
They all knew where this was going.
"No, ma, no!" they all begged her in a chaotic wave. 
They had all been threatened from earliest memory with “The Mother's Curse.” Their mother would yell, "Don't make me call down T'he Mother's Curse' on you!" The children didn't know what it was, but, knowing the wrath of their mother on a daily basis, they didn't want to find out.
As her mother began prounouncing "the curse," Mary stared back at her defiantly, her own chin lifted, as if goading her mother to dare to do it.
"I hope. . ." her mother started slowly, articulating every word, waving the spoon up and down at Mary like a magic wand in fairy tales. . .
"No! Ma! Think about what you're doing!" eleven-year-old Patrick pleaded.
". . .that when you grow up. . ." Ma continued, arms folded now, still wielding the wooden spoon . . .
“Don’t do it, Ma!” Mary Beth, nine at the time, shouted, her voice cracking.
Mary's chin jutted out and the other children could plainly hear her mutter, "Hrmph," through her nose.
"Ma! You said you would never do this!" Denny, seven, wailed in disbelief as he held his head in his hands and shook his head.
" will have a daughter . . ." Mrs. O'Brien continued, squinting her eyes at Mary.
"Ahh! No-o-o-o!" they all wailed and contorted their faces in various twisted poses.
Mary furrowed her brown and squinted back, cocking her head.
Five-year-old Mary Anne put down her spoon and abruptly sobbed, big tears spitting out of her eyes. Little Michael, just three, ran to his mother and pulled on her leg to make her stop, not really knowing what was happening, but channeling the others’ angst in the situation. His mouth contorted into a wail, followed by tears.
Baby Rory, in the high chair, started to cry along with Michael, though, like the three-year-old, he didn’t know why, except everyone seemed to be agitated and scared. He looked back and forth from one sibling to another, mouth open, tears mingling with oatmeal-dotted saliva all over his face.
"Ma! There's still time to stop!" Martin, the oldest at fifteen, finally chimed in, adding to the drama, though he said it with a smirk, more amused than upset.
". . .just . . .like. . .you!" She completed the curse.
Everyone, at the same time, stopped crying and yelling, leaving the room in complete and utter silence, except for Mary Anne's sniffing and hiccupping breaths.
They watched their mother stare at Mary, then watched Mary stare back at their mother.
Mary sarcastically broke the silence. “Happy.Birthday.To.Me.” 
The clan held their collective breath, looking from Mary to their mother and back again.
The staring match took painfully long.
Mary, with one eyebrow raised, and still not taking her eyes from her mother’s glaring eyes, picked up her spoon and shoveled some oatmeal into her mouth. She chewed. She swallowed. She took another bite. 
Her mother did not move one muscle. She did not blink.
Keeping her eyes on her mother, Mary took a drink of milk, then slowly looked away and finished her breakfast in silence—along with everyone else—except for some whimpering from Michael, who ended up lying on the floor beside his mother’s feet, exhausted but grateful the noise had abated.

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