An excerpt from Ethel’s Song
By: Tori Bailey
Southern fare covered the dining room table covered with a white linen table cloth. Forest green tea glasses with their clear footed stems and floral pattern wedding china were like jewels sparkling at each seating. A platter filled with sliced roast beef rested on a bed of carrots, potatoes, and onions took the center spot. Bowls filled to the brim with creamy white mashed potatoes, turnip green, butter peas, pintos, fried corn, and piping hot angel biscuits were the accessories. Just as there was not a clear spot to be found on the table, each chair was occupied with its usual Sunday resident.
Ethel, seated comfortably at her command post at the head of the table and close to the kitchen, looked at each of the table’s occupants. Anne and Maggie sat next to their husbands, Keegan and Seth, on one side. Mathias, Kelli, and Thomas completed the other side. Her attention turned to the man at the opposite end of the table - Madison. She knew he was a gift sent from the good Lord above.
Peace filled her heart with each face smiling back at her. This was her family. “Let us bless this meal. Madison, will you give thanks?” In unison, everyone bowed their head as Madison gave thanks over the meal and the blessings of their lives including the newest addition, Christian.
An anthem of ‘amen’ responded to the end of the blessing, and the once quiet dining room was filled with a cacophony of conversations. Everyone began talking at once as bowls and plates were passed around the table. This was what Sundays were about - family. It was a time for everyone to come together and share the breaking of bread.
Seth turned his attention to Madison’s end of the table. “So, in thirty days you are going to be a hitched man. You still have time to escape a lifetime sentence of the ball and chain.” He loved the look of feigned horror on Maggie’s face.
Madison let out a chuckle enjoying the look of anticipation on Ethel’s face. He gave her a quick wink. “Thanks for reminding me of the short life my bachelor days have left. Trust me, it is something that has been weighing heavily on my mind. But I have to say that this is one sentence that I gladly take without hesitation.”
Anne patted her aunt on her shoulder. “Had you scared there for a minute didn’t he Aunt Ethel?”
“Honey, this ball and chain thing is a two way street. Maybe, I might be the one to decide to back out at the last minute.”
“Aunt Ethel, don’t we need to go for our final fitting this week over at ClaraBell’s?” Anne asked.
“I need to call her tomorrow and see when is a good time. What day is good for the two of you this week?”
“I’m busy with the breeding schedule tomorrow but will be in town mid-week to help Maggie at the airport,” Anne said as she took the last of the turnip greens.
Thomas relished the opportunity to yank his cousin’s chain. “Yeah, with as much breeding going on down at that farm it seemed like you should have one of your own and another on the way, cuz.”
“Well, it not because there is anything wrong with the Stallion.” Keegan piped up, enjoying the crimson stains on his wife’s cheeks.
A snort laugh escaped Maggie. “What’s so funny down there missy?” Madison asked.
“Matter of fact – Seth and I have been trying.” Maggie announced.
“Yeah, if I could just keep her feet on the ground long enough.” Seth leaned over and kissed Maggie on the cheek.
“Seth, honey, if you are trying to keep her feet on the ground then maybe you need to come to the barns to see what you are doing wrong,” Anne chided Seth. The red in Maggie’s face deepened.
“Here…here now. Not at the Sunday dinner table.” Ethel gently warned before the nature of the conversation became out of hand.
“Man, I’m tight as a tic.” Madison leaned back in his chair and rubbed his stomach.
Ethel surveyed the carnage of her Sunday dinner. The once full plates and platters were empty. She enjoyed listening to her family continue their banter. Everyone seemed to feed off each other.
One of Tori’s fondest memories growing up was Sunday dinners at my home when family came together. Her mother would always put the leaf in the table to fit all my aunts, uncles and grandparents around it. She’d dress the table with her finest table cloth, wedding china and the set of forest green tea glasses collected by her grandmother during the Depression years.
Tori’s second novel of the Coming Home series, Ethel’s Song, is scheduled for release in October. She currently makes her home in the Athens area with her husband and three rescue cats. Visit her website: www.readtoribailey for updates, sneak peeks, and other short stories.