Maggie had a desire, and so did her daughter.
That Is What I Really Wanted
"You know this is ridiculous, right? You can buy new ones anywhere or order them online," Rebecca pleaded as she tried her best to convince her mother not to wake her up at six o'clock tomorrow morning. Tomorrow was Saturday, and she planned on sleeping in for as long as she could.
Her mother, Maggie, replied, "I don't care! I don't want to order one online, and I don't want to get one in a store. I want to find one that's already seasoned. Old cast iron skillets are the best skillets there are."
"But it's just a pan. You can get them anywhere."
"See there! You just displayed your ignorance. A skillet is not a pan. Pans are cheap aluminum things. Those are the things you can buy anywhere. Real cast iron skillets have special properties which make cooking certain foods so much easier, and the food taste better too."
"Why don't you go by yourself then?"
"Because I want you to go with me."
"Because I said so!"
"That's no answer!"
Her mother's glare made Rebecca sit back and hold her breath. Had she crossed the line again? She'd know soon enough. Rebecca's eyes remained locked on her mother's right arm. If it rose, she'd shut her eyes and wait. The resulting pain from the sharp contact between her mother's open hand and her cheek would be brief, but she would acknowledge the message.
Her mother's right shoulder moved toward the table where they sat, but her arm did not lift. Then in a voice, which sounded more like a growl, her mother said,
"Say another word, and I'm going to fuck you up. You hear me?"
Rebecca nodded. She dared not speak. Her past attempt to act defiant had all failed. After too many hospital and doctor visits and false explanations to her friends about how she'd hurt herself, she knew when to shut up. She eased her chair back from the table, realized that her heart had shifted into second gear, and snuck away. She could feel her mother's eyes on her as she turned the corner to head to her bedroom.
As promised. Her mother knocked on her bedroom door at six o'clock the next morning.
"I'm getting up," Rebecca answered.
"Alright! Hurry up. I want to get to these places early," her mother's muffled voice requested.
Rebecca got ready like she did every morning. Efficiency was the key. Lay everything out the night before so she could get out of the house and on to school in about thirty minutes. Her deceased father, an Air Force sergeant killed in Afghanistan, had instilled military efficiency into both her and her mother. It was difficult in the beginning, but eventually both found it to be quite a time saver. It had become the norm since Rebecca was five-years-old. Now at thirteen, and with her father not around anymore, she didn't see the need for it. Yet, on most occasions, it still worked well.
They both had gotten ready and eaten breakfast before six forty-five. There were four yard sales they had to hit before coming back home. Pleasant was the only way to describe her mother's mood, and it was a relief. Her dad's death had done something nasty to her mother's mind. Her mood swings became drastic, but her abusive beatings were savage, and Rebecca tried not to upset her. But her need for some independence forced her to open her mouth when she shouldn't. This morning, she vowed not to upset her mother.
At the first house, they parked on the other side of the street, a few houses down from the yard sale. Many items were laid out in the driveway and garage with a few folks were already perusing the apparel and knick-knacks. Rebecca followed her mother as she walked up to the homeowner and inquired if she had any kitchen wares for sale. The woman left her chair and pointed to boxes that sat in the garage atop a table. Rebecca's mother shifted items around, looking for the one item she really wanted. Rebecca saw a few things her mother should buy. That Insta-Pot looks nice and barely used. Wow, a George Foreman Grill? Mom's gotta get that. Instead, her mother turned around, thanked the homeowner, and they returned to the car.
They arrived at the second house twenty minutes later. Even more people were out hunting for bargains. Again her mother approached the homeowner with Rebecca hanging back a bit. She was glad she did. When the homeowner shook her head, her mother turned around to leave.
The same thing happened at the third house, except this time, the homeowners, both a man and woman, sat outside. It was a quick visit. Rebecca hoped the same would happen at the fourth and last house.
By the time they'd pulled up to the last house, clouds had blotted out the sun and gave the house a dull appearance. She could smell rain in the air. The garage was closed and only a few items were in the driveway. Good! No one's here, and they don't have much. We can go back home. Rebecca walked a few steps behind her mother, certain this would be the shortest visit of them all.
Instead, her mother and the homeowner, an old woman wearing a loose, printed dress and ugly shoes, conversed for a while. Her hopes of a quick visit dissolved. Then her mother helped the old woman from her chair and followed her into the house. That was a behavior Rebecca hadn't seen before, so she stayed on the sidewalk and waited.
Five minutes later, they both exited the house with her mother carrying a large black skillet. Rebecca cocked her head. How did mom do that? It must have been heavy because her mother struggled, carrying it with two hands. Her purse slipped off her shoulders, making it more difficult. As they drove home, her mother said,
"I got that skillet for a good price. It was a family heirloom over one-hundred years old. Can you believe that? That is what I really wanted."
Back at home, Rebecca didn't ask her mother how she obtained the skillet. Just listening to her hum and seeing her smile was enough. Then her mother pulled out chicken legs and thighs from the freezer to defrost. She was bound to use the pan tonight. Again, there was no need to question her mother. Fried chicken was a favorite!
Conflict was non-existent, which was typical of the household as long as Rebecca didn't test her mother. They watched a crazy reality television show together, and during a commercial, Rebecca got up to get some juice.
The skillet lay on top of the stove, and she stopped to get a closer look. Her biceps popped upon lifting it, so she set it back down. Now she understood what her mother went through when hauling it back to the car. She leaned over to take a good look inside. It was black as coal, with a subdued sheen. She rubbed her finger along the bottom. Ripples appeared and soon scenes from a strange movie emerged. Rebecca's eyes grew.
A gray-haired man, wearing glasses, sat in an old-style leather chair reading a newspaper. A fireplace roared in the background. Everything about the room in the scene was old, like something from the early 1900s. There was no sound. From the side of the pan, a young woman appeared wearing a bodice over a long, frilly white skirt. She came up behind the man and slammed a large, black skillet on his head. Blood splattered over her clothing and the chair. The man slumped and released his newspaper.
The woman turned and stared at Rebecca. Both eyes were severely bruised, and her jaw was swollen. Rebecca's blood chilled. Then she heard a voice. The young woman spoke directly into Rebecca's head. Rebecca remained in a trance-like state until the voice stopped.
Then Rebecca lifted the skillet with both hands and carried it towards the living room. Her mother was still on the couch, engaged with the television program.
"Rebecca, hurry back! Suzanne is about to tell her old boyfriend to go to hell," her mother said with an elevated voice so Rebecca could hear it in the kitchen.
Rebecca crept up behind her mother and slammed the skillet down on the crown of her mother's skull.
She returned to the kitchen, set the skillet back on the stove, and looked inside. The woman's face occupied the entire interior of the skillet and said,
"That person will never hurt you or me again!"