My parents return to the kitchen, still chatting in hushed forces while grabbing the plates and setting the table for my special birthday breakfast. They refuse to look at our guests as they put the plates on the counter beside the oven.
“Did you tell her we will look for a house nearby and after we are settled in, she is coming to live with us?” Jack asks when he sees them.
My parents don’t answer, just walks to our kitchen table and sets it, both gritting their teeth. They set it for three, placing plates, napkins, knives, and forks, and place the drinking glasses last.
Priscilla turns on her heel to face Darlene and Jack, still gritting her teeth as she collects herself before speaking, “We have told her we adopted her and that we love her no matter what. We told her who you are and what happened to you. We also told her that because of your disappearance, we adopted her as a baby. We did not however tell her you wish to take her back from us and we won’t until we think the time is right.” She leaves it at that and returns to the oven where she continues to cook.
“I think it would be best if you two left,” John tells them, heading for the front door to open it for them.
“No, I want them to stay,” I tell my dad as I walk down the stairs. “I want to talk to them.”
All eyes turn to me as I walk into the kitchen in clean clothes and damp hair and help mom by taking the food she has made to the table. I dish out bacon and the eggs benedict to the three plates already on the table. John clenches his jaw as he returns to the kitchen where he retrieves two more plates to add to the table. He sets them down before he extends the table to accommodate our guests, and sets the two places, adding the chairs last.
I retrieve the jugs of orange and grapefruit juice from the fridge, licking my lips in anticipation of sipping on the grapefruit juice. My mom and dad sit down while I place the jugs on the table and sit in my spot. Jack and Darlene sit at the table after I point to where they should sit, smiling gratefully at me. I hand the plate of bacon to my dad before I grab Jack and Darlene’s plates and place food on them, passing them carefully across the table. I pour myself some grapefruit juice, swallow three big swallows, and refills my glass.
“Coffee anyone?” I ask as I stand, wiping the juice from the corner of my mouth on my arm.
“No hunny, you sit down, and I will get the coffee for everyone,” my mom says as she stands, putting her hand up to stop me. “You eat your breakfast; it is your day after all.”
I sit back down as my mom adds more water and fresh grounds to the coffeemaker to make more for our guest. After several minutes, my mom returns with two more mugs full of hot coffee and places them in front of Darlene and Jack. She walks away then comes back with the pot to fill hers and my dad’s mugs with fresh, piping hot coffee since theirs have turned cold from sitting out for so long. After everyone has their coffee, my mom returns the pot to the machine and sits back down, placing her napkin on her lap.
We sit in silence as we eat, my mouth watering as I bite into a piece of bacon, letting the delicious fatty bits melt in my mouth.
“Bacon is perfect, mom, as always,” I say munching on the bacon. “Not too crunchy and yet not to soft either.” I lick the bacon like a lollipop, causing my mom and dad to laugh.
Darlene and Jack look at each other, not amused by what they are seeing. I eye the two as I take another bite, studying them. I grab my fork and knife, cutting into my eggs benedict, enjoying the sight of my eggs yellow running all over. I smile at my mom as I shove some egg, ham, and English muffin smothered in Hollandaise sauce into my mouth, letting her know I am appreciating the food.
“Best birthday breakfast ever,” I mumble around the food in my mouth.
“Charlene, hunny, don’t talk with your mouth full. It isn’t polite,” Darlene tells me as she gives me a stern look.
I raise my eyebrows at her and swallow my food, ready to talk back, but my mom slams her fork down on her plate, causing us to jump.
“You may be her birth parents, but she is still my daughter and you have no right to correct her in my house,” she snarls at Darlene.
Darlene looks shocked at my mom, never thinking she would talk to her the way she did. “You are right! She is my daughter, and that gives me the right to correct her anywhere I so please.”
Jack nods his head in agreement, “I think it is very clear that you two are not fit to be Charlene’s parents if you can’t raise her with proper manners. We should have never asked you two to take her in. And licking your food and laughing about it? Disgusting and childish.”
My dad and mom both are about to argue when Jack and Darlene stand up abruptly, dropping their forks onto the plates of hardly touched food. They glare at my mom and dad before they both look at me.
“We will take Charlene with us instead of leaving her with the two of you while we search for a house in this dimension,” Darlene spits at my parents. “And we won’t be living in Tennessee either. We will take her far away from the two of you.”
“We might even just take her back and live in the other dimension instead,” Jack pipes in, crossing his arms over his chest as he looks back at my parents, daring my dad to challenge him with narrowed eyes.
“Go pack your things, Charlene, we are going home now,” Darlene demands, still staring at me.
I raise my eyebrows at her, leaning back in my chair as I stared at these two strangers who apparently are my birth parents, “No!”