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by fyn
Rated: E · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2233663
Tempt ye not the goddesses...
Being as Cerridwen's daughter had reached her age of majority and was now at least two millennia old, she called her to the Great Hearth. "My child, you are now old enough to begin your life's duties. As you know, I am the Goddess of the Hearth. Although mortals think of us as little more than kitchen witches in this day and age, the truth be told, you have much power when and if you should choose to use it.

"We have watched over countless gatherings and your training has been well and truly completed. I have watched as you oversaw great gatherings and bounteous banquets. I have also watched you allow butter to burn and quiches to fall flat. I have watched as you let your emotions rule your choices."

"Mother," answered Cywedir, "you know how I cannot tolerate the selfish or the slovenly. Equally, I will not assist the mean or hurtful. "

"My daughter, you must keep in mind that there is more to the meal than the cook. Those who partake of the feast are also affected by your whims."

Cywedir shook her head, her hip-length tawny tresses rippling in her agitation. "The people these days, with their fast food and meal deliveries take no pride in their presentation. Meals are slapped upon plates made of paper, dining etiquette has fallen by the wayside and most barely know how to use a fork let alone feast at a table fully laden with the correct implements. I swear by Amaethon it was easier when they ate with their hands!"

"Tis quite true, my dear," interjected Cerridwen, "they spend more time talking to the machines attached to their hands then they do to each other. But, we are not in control of the way the world has changed. We must work along with it.

"Now, today you must visit the home of Letticia Mortimer. She is having a small dinner party for ten people this evening. It is the first she has hosted since the Great Pandemic began last spring."

"I thought the mortals could not gather in groups. Are they now allowed to socialize in person again? I am glad we do not need to wear those masks. But then, we cannot catch viruses. Have to love being immortal!"

"They are just beginning to do so. This meal is very important for her as she wants to become the mayor of their village. She is doing all the cooking herself. It is important for her to make a good impression on these humans."

"Letticia," mused Cywedir, "is she not that mortal who thinks she is superior to all? Why, I think she feels even superior to us! She is not a nice human, Mother. Are you telling me I must go out of my way to make her little party a success?"

"I know, dearest one. She is not the most pleasant of souls, nor does she treat all with equanimity. You must do as you think best. I am relying on your judgment in this situation." With these words, Cerridwen wafted off to check out her latest batch of Ambrosia.

Letticia was fuming mad. Not only had that, that woman not shown up to help her clean house today, the cook she had hired had called to say she had the virus. Well, at least she had been tested before her soiree, Letticia thought to herself. It would have been a disaster if her guests all caught that damned virus. "I never should have planned such a complicated menu," she muttered. "Whatever made me think to make lasagna, salad, and ambrosia? I never know which order to pile the noodles, meat, sauce, and cheeses." Slamming dishes and bowls on her kitchen counter, she kept mumbling and complaining. "I don't know how to make salad dressing and I simply can't use dressing from a bottle like the peons who live in this village!"

Letticia opened a bottle of wine and poured herself a glass. She gathered her ingredients from the middle drawer of her new stainless-steel Sub-Zero refrigerator and plopped them on the counter, looking at them in dismay. Heaving a huge sigh at the incredible inconvenience of people getting sick, she sat in the breakfast nook fanning her overly red face.

Behind the granite encrusted island dominating the expansive kitchen, Cywedir watched, musing on the overly plump matron's disagreeable disposition. She was almost gleeful. This was going to be such fun!

Four hours later, the last guests had arrived. They were all milling about Letticia's 'grande lounge' as she referred to it. Although the temperatures were hovering in the high sixties, a massive fire burned in the marble fireplace, making the room uncomfortably warm. The table in the dining room was set with fine linens, china, and golden implements. Instead of Letticia mingling with her guests, they were left to fend for themselves as she continued to putter in the kitchen.

"I am dying of hunger," muttered Leroy B. Alphonse, the head banker of the Fiduciary Trust Amalgamated Bank.

"Me too," replied his wife, the portly matron who basically ran their village of Mellweather. "I really don't care for dinner parties. They are usually so boring, and this guest list isn't giving me any hope for a decent conversation."

"Given the aromas wafting from the kitchen," I'm not sure I'd use the words dying and eating in the same sentence," tittered Florence Mellweather, the seventh generation descendent of the village founder.

Cywedir, sitting on the edge of an ostentatious breakfront, smiled. Wasn't there some famous quote about dying and dinner parties? She shrugged, not remembering.

The lasagna just did not look right, the woman of the hour worried. Did I add too much oregano? I don't remember adding that much. Licking her thumb that caught a dripping bit of garlic buttered bread, she grimaced. Oh dear. Maybe they won't notice. Not as if they have discernable palates anyway.

Calling her guests to the table, they sat down to salad bowls filled with three different lettuces, several different colored peppers, and a variety of yellow, orange, and red tomatoes. Sprinkling some dressing from a crystal bottle, Florence wrinkled her nose at the sharp vinegar tang. Maybe she could excuse herself from the table and waste some time in the powder room. Oh, but no. She watched as Elizabeth Georgine Alphonse made a beeline for that selfsame place.

A few moments later, having not cleared the salad course from the table, Letticia escaped to the kitchen to once again, look at her lasagna with dismay. Hoping it stayed together, she cut serving-sized pieces and brought it and the spatula serving utensil into the dining room.

The plate of lasagna had made it halfway around the table by the time Elizabeth had returned. She watched as Leroy attempted to deliver a serving to her plate only to have it slide off and into his lap. Hoping Letticia didn't notice as she was regaling the new realtor in town with some story he'd heard at least fifty times, he wrapped his napkin around the offending red splash of goo and dropped it to the floor.

Florence looked at her dinner. Three layers of noodle, too much greenish sauce, and a pile of pasty cheese oozed across her plate. Worst part of dinner parties, she thought, dying of the food as well as dying for it to be over. Lord, just take me now. I don't know if I can stomach this!

Letticia was blathering on about the absolute necessity for a new stoplight on Main Street. People were giving her bland, blank stares. The common thought working its way through the minds of her guests was that if she couldn't pull off a simple meal of lasagna and salad, heaven knew she couldn't run their town.

She couldn't have mucked this up any worse than if her old granny's kitchen witch had had a hand in the preparation, thought Florence. She looked around, wondering. Was that a shimmer there, by the front window draperies? Her granny had always said that kitchen witches were a force to be reckoned with if they didn't like you. Florence smiled her first true smile of the evening. Had to be!

Elizabeth Georgine Alphonse took Florence aside out in the driveway. Quietly she stated that should she, Florence, wish to run for mayor that the right people would be in her corner. Florence's already large blue eyes widened. And she smiled once again.

"Oh, and I promise. No lasagna dinner parties. My husband can't abide the stuff. Perhaps a cookout next week? Steaks on the grill? It would be much more laid back, I fear."

"Goodness," said the now less intimidating Mrs. Alphonse. "I have never understood why she's ever acted that way. One should never alienate the very folks one wants to have in one's corner. Imagine," giggled Elizabeth, "a sub-zero fridge, and the woman can't even cook!"

"At least we all lived through the evening. Well, except Letticia."

"I heard that, m'dear." Leroy Alphonse joined his wife. "Perhaps you'd care to join us for coffee? I'm sure we can cobble together some food as well. I am starving! And perhaps we should discuss the idea of you running for mayor!"

"That is exactly what I was just telling her, my love. I do not now, nor do I ever want that woman running our little village!"

Cerridwen met her daughter in the kitchen. The two goddesses shook their heads at Letticia who was now slumped at the kitchen table, having poured herself a large glass of wine. "Ungrateful wretched people" Letticia muttered. "I wouldn't be the mayor of this town now on a bet."

"I do not guess she will have to worry about that," Cywedir snickered.

"Did you at least leave the ambrosia alone, my darling?"

"Yes, Mother. Although I doubt anyone, but our wonderful hostess will be here to eat any of it. Just as well, she really did not need my help to kill it. I wonder what the opposite of ambrosia is? They all already made their excuses and headed out. I wonder if Letticia even realized she did not even serve the wine to her guests?"

"Still. What is it, I wonder about these mortals? Why do they think they can act so superior? She really is such a snob. Well, I don't expect the next mayor of Mellweather will be Letticia!"

"I actually think that Florence lady would be much better. That, and she appreciates the likes of us! I think she might have seen me, Mother."

"I don't doubt it. Her grandmother now; she was a true lady. And, as I recall, a most excellent cook. She always left us a dipper of milk and the best oatmeal raisin cookies. Perhaps, if Florence does run, you could help her some."

"I do not think she would need any help; have you smelled her husband's steaks? Half the mouths in the neighborhood start drooling when he fires up his grill!

"Mother, are we just nothing much more than a thought these days? I mean, are we even necessary?"

"Absolutely! If you hadn't been there, all your um, meddling, aside, she'd have poisoned them for sure!"

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