For those who missed it…
“Time for dinner; come downstairs to set the table!” Yelled Juliet, breaking Michael from his concentration.
“Just a sec, mom! I’ve almost completed the mission.”
At that moment the door flew open as Juliet entered the room.
“Excuse me? You won’t have any missions to complete when your computer system finds its way out on the street curb, so move it or lose it.” Juliet sneered with such conviction. It was as if she wanted nothing more than to deprive Michael of something he enjoyed.
He then lowered his head as he informed Jack they’d have to continue later.
“But we’re almost done! It’s RIGHT there in front of us!” Claimed Jack.
“I know, but I have to go. See ya.” Michael then shut everything down while his mother stood nearest the door, scolding her son as he moved steadily.
“You know the rules and I shouldn’t have to repeat myself, should I?”
“Don’t you but mom, me!” Juliet said as she grabbed Michael by the tuft of his collar. She then peered into his eyes with her familiar glint as she cut him further down with her cold words. “That game will never provide you with what your mother can. We’re a family, and we need to act like one. So what does that mean, Michael?”
“Personal interests come secondary.” He said as he slightly averted his gaze from his mother’s dagger-like eyes.
“Good!” Juliet said as she raised her chin, having felt oh so powerful from dominating her child. “Now hurry downstairs and set the table for dinner.”
“Yes, mom.” Michael said with a melancholy tone.
He then headed towards the kitchen to greet his father who was pilfering through work documents at the table. “Hey dad, how was your day?”
“It was alright, finished a lot with the most recent project. Did your mother send you down to set the table?” Michael nodded his head in approval, at which time Corban said “then why don’t you focus on preparing the table for dinner instead of bothering me while I work?”
Michael turned from his father as a tightness gripped his chest. It was the sting of rejection that caused him to feel so disgusting, although he was currently unable to connect the feeling with the source of its pain. But the emotional upheaval soon buried itself with the rest of Michael’s suffering – years from having been rejected and treated with disdain by those who were entrusted to care for him.
With that said, it wasn’t long before Michael felt nothing as a numbness overtook him. So he then turned his focused towards the dishware to gather all his family would need to serve dinner. Even then he had to make sure he didn’t make too much noise because Corban Lux was known to erupt with the greatest fits of rage if he was disturbed.
It wasn’t long before everything was in its proper place, and thank goodness too! After all, Juliet had shown Michael time and time again how to effectively bore oneself to death from having trifled with setting the table.
“That’s wrong!” She would say, or “how stupid could you be to think that would work?!” Then again, moments with mother were never dull. One could say she specialized in keeping others on their toes – almost to the point of becoming hypervigilant. But in any case, Michael was always pleased to have set everything to her standard since that meant he didn’t have to listen to the endless rants that typically made no sense when he stopped to think about them after the fact.
It’s just a spoon – he often thought to himself, although his mother’s Evil Eye and mockery said otherwise. To her it seemed as though the world was falling apart, and her with it! “Oh well, at least I mostly do it right” he muttered under his breath. It wasn’t long before Stella and Juliet made their way to the kitchen to join the men at the table.
“Hey daddy!” Stella said as she rushed over to hug Corban.
“Hey there sweetie, how was your day?” Corban replied.
Stella managed to talk for long enough that Michael sat and thought – sure, you’ll talk to her but you won’t even acknowledge me. But then again, this wasn’t any different from what typically occurred under the Lux’s roof. The sister got all of the favorable attention while Michael always received the short end of the stick. Although, he often got the entire stick from his father’s beatings or mother’s tirades.
“What’s for dinner?” Asked Corban as he collected the remaining loose papers.
“Meatloaf with mashed potatoes, steamed vegetables, biscuits, and honey buns for dessert.” Replied Juliet. Now to most, the meal itself wouldn’t raise any red flags. However, Juliet’s cooking skills were anything but phenomenal since she mostly purchased pre-cooked dinners from the store. Except for the vegetables which were always canned, never fresh. But even then, that didn’t dissuade her from bragging about her culinary expertise whenever she attended pot lucks at work.
“Pass your plate, Michael.” Juliet said as she motioned for him to reach across the table. She then plopped a healthy serving of canned spinach mixed with peas and carrots – both of which were also canned. Michael gazed in horror as he knew he’d be expected to eat what looked to be a regurgitated hunk of radioactive seaweed. “Do you want any meatloaf?”
“Yes, please.” Michael said as he tried to focus on everything besides the green debacle that seemingly cast a shadow over the rest of his plate. The entire process didn’t take much longer, although everything probably would have gone faster had Juliet Lux entrusted her children to fill their own plates. But then again, Juliet always wanted to fill their heads with the notion that she would always provide for them.
Eventually everyone had a plate and dove in without saying much to each other. In fact, dinner sessions were usually the only peaceful moments in the house even though awkward turtles sometimes found their way among those seated at the table.
“Oh we forgot to say grace!” Harkened Juliet. “Let us hold hands and bless this food before we eat any further. Michael, would you like to say the prayer?”
“Not really, but dad can.”
“Oh honey would you be so kind?” Juliet said as she peered into Corban’s eyes with a glint that made him melt and tense up simultaneously. She had a way of accomplishing both without even trying.
Ahem – Corban cleared his throat – “thank you lord for providing this wonderful meal for myself and my family. May you continue to bless us as you have throughout our lives. Amen.”
“Amen.” Everyone replied, although it was more of a whimper than anything of noticeable worth.
“Oh thank you, dear! Unlike Michael who apparently couldn’t muster the strength to thank our Father in Heaven for bestowing our home with such grace.” Juliet sneered while the room fell quiet.
The silence was quickly broken when Stella snorted from hearing her mother make such a dastardly claim. “And what’s so funny, Stella?” Asked Juliet.
“What? The fact you grill Michael every night, or the point when you try to force religion on us – I mean, it’s not like we still go to church or anything?” Stella said with a smirk on her face.
Juliet felt a rage intensely rising within her, although she knew how to direct its entropic current to see that all it touched would surrender or burn. She then responded by smiling back at her daughter who felt as if a tidal wave was about to make landfall.
“Oh Michael?” Juliet asked, still looking her daughter down with that glint in her eye.
“What is the most important rule of all stemming from the Father?” At this point Stella’s breath shortened as she felt her heart sink to her gut.
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.”
“Ahhh yes! That’s it.” Juliet said as her smile only deepened, exposing the crevices she often sought to cover with makeup. “And do you recall the book from which that verse arises?”
Michael sat for a moment and thought even though it didn’t take long to remember considering his mother drilled the verse into both her children. It had honestly been years since the family unit graced their local church, although Juliet always preferred to teach the sermons to her kids as she didn’t trust anyone else to effectively preach the word. So this meant the cruel and merciless god of the Old Testament was often used to silence the cries of her children. After all, they could be damned for eternity if they disobeyed their parents – at least that’s what they were told.
“Exodus 20:12, I think.” He recounted as his mother gently rubbed one of her hands on Michael’s forearm to show her approval before turning her focus towards Stella, who by this time was becoming defensive.
“But mom?! We haven’t even been to church in years, so how can you expect me to follow the words of a book that was written by a bunch of dead guys?” Stella went on to say as an attempt to make a point. The only problem was that her point contradicted her mother’s word.
“Well Stella, one should always honor their Mother and Father because the parents brought them into this world. We gave you this life, and we can just as easily take it away.” Juliet went on to say as Stella’s eyes filled with tears. “Oh honey, don’t cry. Be grateful your parents provide you with what you need most in life.”
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