Temptation: A Short Story By Janet Chancellor
by Janet Chancellor
Mrs. Christianson telephoned Mrs. Horner yesterday to ask her if she would host the Ladies Auxiliary Guild the next afternoon. It seems Mrs. Christianson was a bit under the weather and required a substitute.
“Oh my, yes!” replied Mrs. Horner, a bit too excitedly under the circumstances of the request. So she added, in a more subdued tone, “Anything to help you, dear. I do hope you feel better soon.” She had long thought herself a better leader.
Mrs. Horner, Katheryn, spit shined most of the house that afternoon. She then piled the children, Carolyn and Jack, into their Studebaker and hurried down to the market to get a poinsettia plant for the coffee table. She thought about picking up a dessert. Mrs. Christianson always served store-bought but Katheryn decided instead to bake.
Tomorrow had quickly turned into today. Things were going along fairly smoothly but when it took Katheryn ten minutes to find the Crisco, she started to get a bit flustered. It was a rainy day and the children were restless.
Once the baking was finished, she tidied up the rest of the house, got herself ready and turned her attention back to the children.
Jack and his sister had been chasing each other around the living room. There was high laughter, followed by a crash and then silence. According to Carolyn, Jack had thrown a ball which had missed her, hitting instead, the poinsettia. The pot survived but the plant, dislodged from its setting, had flung dirt everywhere.
“Jack!” Mother said, in her outside voice. Then, bringing it down a notch she spoke with a stern face, her eyebrows knit together, “You need a time out!”
There was a wooden Time-Out Chair permanently placed in the kitchen. Jack’s six year old bottom kept it virtually dust free. Jack was told to think about what he had done, and what kind of a boy he had been.
While Katheryn cleaned up the spill, she reminded herself that she must turn that chair back around to face the kitchen before her guests arrived. Katheryn was a good mother and she knew the ladies thought of Jack and Carolyn as polite, well-mannered children.
But Jack didn’t think about what he had done. He was swinging his feet which did not quite reach the linoleum and he was walking his fingers on the arms of the chair like little soldiers but what he was thinking about was the delicious smell in the kitchen.
Peeking around the chair’s tall back and seeing that he was still alone, Jack sneaked over to the counter… just looking.
Pies!! They were cool now, so he carefully picked one up and returned with it to his chair. Jack’s little plumb fingers traced the brown crimped edges. Dark, sticky juice had bubbled out of the holes that Mother had poked in the golden, flakey crust.
Suddenly, without forethought, he stuck in his thumb. And pulled out a plum.
And said, “What a good boy am I!”