I gave my darling Alexis a gentle shake.
“Wake up, Sleepy-head,” I said softly.
I hated to start off her special day by being the bearer of bad news, but it simply couldn’t be helped.
Portions of her beautiful red hair had come out of its nighttime braid and was splayed about her face on the pillow, so I reached out to gently brush some of the strands away from her face. Her beautiful green eyes flickered open and she looked up at me with a split second of bewilderment.
Then she smiled and my heart fluttered like it did that very first time I saw her from across the crowded lunchroom when we were both in school. Of course, at that time she was not wearing a lacy nightgown, but was instead wearing the plaid skirt, white knee socks, penny loafers, white blouse, blue cardigan, and navy-blue cross-tie of her school uniform. To have worn otherwise would have landed her in the headmistress’s office on charges of inciting a riot.
She was about to speak, but chose to yawn and stretch beneath the covers instead.
Finally, after she had checked “yawn” and “stretch” off of her to-do list, she glanced at the alarm clock, gasped, and spoke.
“Oh my gosh!” she said, pushing herself up into a sitting position against the headboard. “Why did you let me oversleep?”
“Seven o’clock hardly makes you a malingerer,” I said, kissing her quickly on the cheek.
“I was going to get up at 6:30,” she said as she straightened up her nightgown which had become a bit disheveled by her sitting up. “There is so much to do.”
“There will be plenty of time later for your color-coded, multi-dimensional, time-phased, and fully-resourced to-do lists,” I said. “But at the moment something of much greater importance has bubbled up to the top of the ol’ action item list.”
“And what is that?” she asked, sneaking in another quick yawn while covering her mouth demurely.
I smiled, trying my utmost to keep my smile from flickering even the slightest little bit. Much like a lioness, she can sense fear and trepidation in those around her, and the effect on my lovely lioness of secondary F&T is much like the effects that light has on a Fresnel lens in a lighthouse. Viz, it is likely to light up the entire coastline with over-reactions and frantic questioning.
“As you know,” I said in what I hoped was a casual tone, “It is Mother’s Day.”
“Yes?” she asked with a look of wariness creeping across her face.
“And you may further recall,” I continued, “That you are the mother of our two children.”
“Yes,” she said, still warily. “I have heard it mentioned.”
“Which is why they look upon you with a good deal of affection and devotion.”
“Just what are you driving at?” she asked, crossing her arms. “What have they done?’
The time had come to cut to the chase before I lost my audience.
“The children have made you breakfast,” I said, delivering the news like a doctor administers a dose of cod liver oil. It is best not to spend too much time anticipating it or its aftereffects.
“Oh!” she said, registering surprise. “My!”
She glanced around nervously as if she thought a camera crew from Impromptu Home Videos were going to spring out of our closet with umbrella lights, boom mics, and cameras.
“Breakfast?” she asked. “For me?”
Like me, she was trying valiantly to keep her smile from flickering.
“Yes, for you,” I said.
My smiling muscles were getting quite tired. I have not smiled this much since she introduced me to her intimidating father when I was in college.
“Did you help them?” she asked warily.
“Of course,” I said. “I believe it is illegal in most states to give youngsters free range on a gas range. Adult supervision is encouraged.”
She looked slightly relieved to know that there was a mature hand at the tiller of the S.S. Juvenile Cuisine.
“And what lovely treat will be being served?” she asked, her smile still not flickering, though there was some noticeable twitching in her cheek muscles. I’m sure she was being haunted by the ghosts of Mother’s Days Past.
“It started out as eggs Benedict,” I said.
“Yes?” she said, with increased cheek muscle twitching. “But –?”
“There was a bit of a mix-up with the hollandaise sauce,” I said, shuddering as I remembered the disastrous substitution of yellow gelatin for egg yolks, which Edrington thought would be perfectly acceptable since they were the same color.
“And so … ?” she prompted, obviously curious as to the evolution of the eggs Benedict.
“It became more of a croque monsieur situation,” I said.
“Oh! That sounds nice,” she said, seeming relived.
“Except that I discovered we were fresh out of ham.”
“Ohhh,” she said, sounding disappointed.
“But fear not, my beautiful Morning Glory,” I said. “We Callingtons are nothing if not quick on our feet, so I instantly thought to substitute an egg for the ham and thus transform an ordinary croque monsieur into a croque madame, which is not nearly as painful as it sounds.”
“Ooohh,” she said, rubbing her hands together. I believe she was beginning to salivate just a tiny bit. “That sounds lovely.”
“And it would have been,” I agreed heartily. “Except that we were about twelve eggs short of having a full dozen.”
“Oh,” she said, her voice once again registering disappointment. But she still seemed somewhat hopeful. “So, what happened next?”
“Well,” I said with a verbal flourish, “We may not have ham to make croque monsieur with, or eggs to make croque madame with, but by being resourceful with what was left, we were determined to make le pain grillé au fromage.”
She stared at me a moment. “Grilled cheese?” she asked as if she were trying to keep disappointment from creeping into her voice.
“Yes, but it is so much tastier in French,” I said.
I’m sure it will be lovely,” she said, leaning forward to kiss my cheek. She then smoothed out the covers over her lap as if preparing a place for the breakfast tray. “Bring on the grilled cheese.”
“Well,” I said, “There was a slight problem in the Gruyère department.”
She feigned a gasp and suppressed a giggle. “What?” she asked, throwing her hands in the air like a femme fatale. “No cheese?”
“No soft cheeses at all,” I said, shaking my head sadly. “I’m afraid there is nothing but hard cheese.”
“That seems appropriate,” she said, reaching out to put her hand on my arm sympathetically. “But no matter. I’m famished. I am quite ready for a sumptuous breakfast of cheese-less cheese toast. Or as it is known to most people … toast.”
“And nothing would make me happier than to present you with cheese-less cheese toast under a silver cloche,” I said, shaking my head sympathetically.
“Let me guess,” she said, giving me her cute little crooked smile. “No bread?”
“Not even enough to make you a crouton,” I said, grinning at her.
“So, I am at a loss as to what will be under the cloche when it arrives and you remove it with a flourish.”
“A coupon,” I said.
“But you said we did not have enough to make a crouton,” she said confusedly.
“Not crouton. Coupon.”
“Yes. A coupon meticulously hand-lettered by Edrington on a page taken from his penmanship exercise book, and decorated profusely with flowers and hearts and a lone unicorn by Evangeline with her special glittery ink pen.”
“Awww!” she gushed. “How darling! And what, pray tell, will this coupon be for?”
“It will be for breakfast at the restaurant of your choice.”
She giggled. “I do believe this will be the best breakfast in bed I have ever had!”
Story is Copyright ©2019 by Biff Sock Pow
The title and characters “Alistair and Alexis” are copyright © 2019 by Biff Sock Pow
All characters, character names, fictional place names, fictional products, and fictional companies and organizations used in the “Alistair and Alexis” stories are copyright © 2019 by Biff Sock Pow