Jocelyn Stewart

Vanesa had begun to wonder at what point Kaon had turned into a hotel. The never ending stream of comings and goings were at once annoying and entertaining. However the most recent arrivals promised to fray everyone’s nerves. Aunt Alyse and Uncle Samnar had arrived late the previous night and were now sitting across the table from Arkay and Nashen glaring at them as they got lost in each other. Vanesa tried to distract her aunt with a question. “Aunty, what would you and Uncle like for breakfast?”

A formidable woman, for all that she was Gen in a society that didn’t think much of them, Alyse turned her scowl on Vanesa and said with some heat “Child, for all the years you have known me have I ever had anything but oatmeal for breakfast?”

Vanesa hesitated then took the plunge, “Our cook doesn’t make oatmeal Aunty. Could we get you something else?”

“How can you have a cook who doesn't make oatmeal? Where is the kitchen?” she said rising with Samnar in tow. Her joints were broadcasting pain into the ambient and her barely contained annoyance was making Sevrin fidget as he tried to control the urge to flatten the woman. *She could give me twit lessons.* Arkay and Nashen agreed.

Vanesa just wanted this ordeal over with. Suddenly she was a child again under the disapproving gaze of her fathers sister. “I’ll show you.” She led her Aunt, Uncle, Sevrin, Arkay and Nashen out of their private dinning room and over to the kitchen.

They descended on the kitchen to find Domi hard at work preparing what would become the noon meal. “Are you the cook who doesn't know how to make something as simple as oatmeal?” Alyse asked a very confused Domi. Annoyed at the blank stare he gave her she said, “Never mind! I’ll make it myself! Where is the oatmeal stored.” She looked at Vanesa for an answer.

Sevrin was on the verge of doing frightening things and had to put his hands behind his back when Arkay reminded him of the light show playing around his forearms. Vanesa was getting more flustered with each passing moment and ran off to the pantry to find the oatmeal.

“You do know how to boil water don’t you?” she turned on Domi again.

“Yes,” he said still trying to figure out how he should deal with the situation. The fact that neither Vanesa nor Sevrin had objected to any of this was confusing to say the least.

“Good, boil some.”

Domi looked to his pots, “How much?”

She reached up grabbed one off the hanging rack and handed it to him. “Half full.”

Vanesa returned from the pantry with a glass container filled with oatmeal and set it down on the counter. She walked over to Sevrin, who was vibrating visibly at this point, and put her hand on his arm for reassurance she wasn’t sure if it was for hers or his. The vibrations began to slowly subside.

Alyse looked around at Arkay and Nashen. “You two may as well make yourselves useful.” Pointing to Arkay she said, “Bring me two hands full of walnuts.” To Nashen she said, “Two hands full of raisins.”

Arkay and Nashen looked at each other as their sense of the absurd kicked in and they did as they were told. Turning to her husband, “Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.” He went off obediently.

Her attention landed on Sevrin next, “Seven is it?”

“Sevrin!” he growled.

“Don’t get testy with me boy! Go take it out on cracking those walnuts.”

Vanesa’s heart nearly stopped as she felt Sevrin about to do something they would all regret but fear of the ripples that would occur if he actually killed the woman stopped him. He went over to Arkay and took it out on the walnuts.

Having done it more times than he could remember Samnar tied four cloves into a cheese cloth pouch and dropped it into the boiling water to flavor it just before the oatmeal was to go in. Shoving Domi out of the way Alyse measured the oatmeal herself. She added the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and some salt. She covered the pot and turned the heat down low. “And don’t lift that lid!” She looked pointedly at Domi who was hovering near the stove.

To Vanesa who had followed Sevrin to the large preparation table in the center of the kitchen she said, “What other fruit do you have around?”

She soon had every one peeling and chopping apples and dates and a number of other things. Domi had gotten into the spirit and suggested all kinds of things. Alyse vetoed most of them. The dates had been Domi’s idea as she had never heard of them before. She was about to veto them too until she saw Samnar eating them with gusto. With all the approved ingredients piled into a large bowl she took it over to the stove, opened the pot, fished out the packet of cloves, dumped the contents of the bowl into the cooked oatmeal and mixed it thoroughly.

Alyse brought the pot to the prep table and put it down. “Bowls,” she looked at Vanesa. “And spoons.” Vanesa brought back bowls for everyone. Domi followed with enough spoons for all and a large serving spoon, which he presented to Alyse. “Smart boy!”

She filled a bowl for everyone filling Samnar’s and her own last. Looking around the table she said, “Well, go on eat.”

Arkay reached for the sugar.

“Don’t.” Alyse pinned him with a look that had stop many a mischievious child dead in his tracks.

Arkay’s sense of the absurd had reached it’s limit. “Madam, we have put up with quite a lot from you. I would suggest that you not push this any further.” The ambient was bristling with the threat.

“I did not spend all that time and effort for you to drown the flavor in sugar. Taste it!”

Arkay blinked at her and tasted the oatmeal fighting back the remembrance of the first time he had eaten it at Kaon. His eyes lit with amazement, “My apologies, sugar would have ruined this.” He put a spoonful into Nashen’s gaping mouth. It was wonderful stuff. Sevrin tasted it hesitantly and then dug in.

There was absolute silence in the kitchen broken only by the occasional clink of a spoon on a bowl. “I remember now! Aunty, you always made us oatmeal.” She turned to Sevrin who was working on his third bowl full, “Looks like you have a convert.” Looking around the table, “I should say several converts.”

The ambient suddenly shimmered with overwhelming affection. “I am glad to see that you have married well, Vanesa. Sevrin, dear boy, I must apologize for pushing you like that but I had to be sure you were worthy of my niece. Anyone marrying into this family must have self control. You have proven to have a great deal of it. I had despaired of Vanesa ever finding someone to share her heart. But I am glad that she has found you.”

Sevrin surprised everyone and smiled. “Apology accepted.”

Alyse looked at Arkay and Nashen, “I apologize to you two as well. Arkay, you remind me a lot of Sam he is also very protective.”

“You usually require a lot of protecting, love.” Everyone accept Alyse and Vanesa started at the distant thunder sound of Samnar’s voice. A chuckle rumbled out and he was silent again.

“And Domi, please forgive me. I know that it was terribly inconvenient to have to prepare such a late supper for us last night but it was a magnificent meal and I have the utmost respect for your culinary talents.”

Domi smiled, “I am glad you enjoyed it. And thank you for teaching me to cook oatmeal.”

“Am I forgiven?” she held her arms out to Vanesa.

“As long as you promise not to do anything like that again!” Vanesa hugged her favorite Aunt and Uncle.

Note: I had never intended for this story to be posted. I sent it to Ann Marie for a laugh.
She talked me into posting it. Send all complaints to her.

Images by Dovesong edited by Jocelyn
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