“The Recipe” by Francine Garson

We’d like to present a new Feature Story here at Metro Fiction. Please check the Welcome page for more information about us. This week, we consider when the time is right to inherit a family recipe.

We present our Feature Story: “The Recipe” by Francine Garson



“Live together? What do you mean ‘live together’?” Clara dipped a ladle into the large pot on the stove.

“Grandma, everyone lives together first,” Julie said.

“Nonsense.” Clara placed a bowl of steaming soup in front of Julie. “If you and Mark love each other, why don’t you get married?”

“I’m not ready. And besides…” Julie blew on her soup-filled spoon. “It’s good to see if you can actually live with each other before you get married.”

“Hmmph. Not a good idea, Julie. Not a good idea.”

“But Grandma…”

Clara shook her head. “Don’t blow on your soup. It’s supposed to be hot.”

The steel tea kettle emitted an angry whistle.

*****

Hugging one plastic container to her chest and cradling another under her arm, Julie pushed her thumb into the doorbell. “Mom!” she called.

“Why didn’t you use your key?” The door opened. “Never mind. I see.” Smiling, Susan took the still warm soup from her daughter’s arms.

Julie plopped into a seat at the kitchen table. “I asked Grandma for the chicken soup recipe.”

“What did she say?”

“She said I’m not ready.”

Susan carried two plates of homemade banana bread to the table and settled into a chair across from her daughter. “You know that recipe is a rite of passage to Grandma. It gets passed down when a girl gets married.”

“But Mark and I are starting a life together. And I’m pretty sure one day we will be married.” Julie twisted a lock of smooth brown hair around her finger. “I just want Grandma to be okay with all of this.”

“Oh Julie, you know how Grandma is. I remember when she gave that recipe to me. Your father and I had just gotten engaged. We went to show her the ring.” Susan laughed. “She hugged us both and scribbled the recipe on a page ripped out of an old notebook she kept by the phone.”

“Could you talk to Grandma?”

Susan sighed. “I already did. She doesn’t understand, and it’s not as if I’m thrilled about you and Mark moving in together either.”

“I know that, Mom. But you accept it.” Julie tapped a fork against the side of her plate. “And that’s what I want from Grandma too. Her acceptance.”

“I understand, Julie, and I do know what it means to you. I know what it meant to me. But it’s not my decision. It’s up to Grandma.”

“I know.” Julie nodded, poking the fork into her banana bread.

*****

“Coming.” Clara’s terrycloth slippers slapped against the floor as she strode to the door before swinging it open. “Mark! Come in. Are you hungry? I made a noodle pudding.”

Leaning down, Mark hugged Clara. “Why do you always open the door without asking who’s there, Mrs. Rothman?” Mark chuckled.

“I’m an old woman. What would anyone want from me?”

“Chicken soup?” Mark mumbled as he followed her into the kitchen.

“The soup? All gone. I gave the rest to Julie yesterday.” Clara patted the back of one of the swivel chairs surrounding the butcher block table. “But the noodle pudding’s even better. Smell.”

Mark inhaled the sweet, woody scent of just-baked noodles laced with sugar and cinnamon. He shook his head. “I didn’t come for noodle pudding, Mrs. Rothman.”

“Didn’t Julie give you chicken soup last night?” Clara placed a thick square of noodle pudding in front of Mark and took the seat across from him. “Don’t worry. I’ll make more next week. You’ll come back.”

“Julie wants to make the soup.”

“Ah, the recipe…”

“Yes, the recipe.”

“When Julie gets married…”

“I know.” Mark grasped Clara’s softly wrinkled hand. “I didn’t come here to argue or try to convince you. I actually agree with you.”

“You do?”

“I know what the recipe means to you, Mrs. Rothman.”

Pushing her lips into a thin line, Clara nodded.

“And that’s why I’ve decided not to get an apartment with Julie.”

“What?”

“Your chicken soup recipe is more than just a list of ingredients to Julie. To her, it represents your acceptance. Your blessing.” Mark squeezed Clara’s hand. “And I’m not going to start our life together without that.”

Clara slipped her hand from under Mark’s and folded her arms across her lap. “Then why won’t you marry her?” she asked. “You’ve been going together for three years. You both have careers. I thought you loved her.”

“I do love her, and I want to marry her. She’s the one who has this crazy idea about moving in together first.”

Clara tilted her head, and a slowly spreading smile lifted her cheeks. Her blue eyes danced behind her gold-framed glasses. “I should have known,” she laughed. “Julie thinks she’s a ‘modern woman.’ She can be stubborn, that one.”

“Well, Mrs. Rothman, I can be stubborn too, and I’ve decided not to live with Julie before we get married. She’ll just have to make the commitment.” Mark reached for the jacket that he had draped over his chair.

“Don’t leave yet, Mark,” Clara said.

Shrugging his shoulders, Mark cut a small piece of noodle pudding.

Clara hurried toward the cabinet that hung above a wall-mounted telephone and yanked on its handle. Pulling out a spiral notebook and pen, she returned to her chair.

“There’s a special ingredient in my soup. Grated yam, but just a little bit.” Clara pointed at Mark. “Are you writing?”


Francine Garson’s work has appeared in All Things Girl, Faith, Hope and Fiction, Hackwriters, Humor Press, Sasee, Scarlett Rosebud, Still Crazy, Underwired, WorkLifeGroup.com, Writer Advice, and WritersType. Her flash fiction received a first place award from the League of American Pen Women in 2010. A former college counselor and law school administrator, Francine writes, reads, and attempts to play the piano in central New Jersey. Learn more about Francine and read more of her stories at her website.

 





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