Rose gave her a rather bland look. “How would I know?”
Haley opened her mouth to point out that they were in fact her children, but decided not to.
Martha leaned in trying to look discreet. The fact that she raised her voice kind of wrecked the effect. “You poor thing! I see the diet didn’t work.” She pouted. “Did you get dumped again?” She shook her head as if it was no consequence and pulled out a business card that she probably had ready for this moment. “Here’s the name of a good doctor who does wonders with removing fat and cosmetic surgery.”
Still smiling, Haley accepted the card. Since she’d lost a few pounds in the last couple of weeks and didn’t consider herself fat, especially since her stomach was flat, she knew her sister was delicately as ever pointing out that Haley was not stick thin like the rest of them. Flat br**sts and looking skeletal was in apparently. Since she would never look like them or want to, she simply left the business card on the table.
She had no problem with how she looked. She was comfortable with her curves. In factm she had the same body type as her grandmother had when she was younger. The same one out cold in her wheelchair and the one that everyone here, but her, feared to piss off. She could be a little hellion to deal with. They all looked down on her for her middleclass ways forgetting that it was her hard work and sacrifices that made the family what it is today.
“You know they can reduce those things these days,” Rose said distastefully, pulling Haley from her thoughts.
“What things?” Haley asked, distracted by one of her cousins eying their grandmother like a vulture. She had no doubt he was counting her breaths. Hell, the little prick was mouthing the words. These people were pathetic.
“Your br**sts, dear. They’re….well….they’re so lower class. They make you look like a waitress or something,” her aunt said sympathetically.
“I think you would look great with less….curves,” Rose added.
Smile. “I’ll keep it in mind, thank you. Now if you’ll excuse me.”
“Oh, wait, dear!” her mother said, holding up her hand. “I wanted to ask you how your little hobby was going.”
Her little hobby meaning her job. Smile. “It’s going great. Thank you for asking. We’ll be breaking for the summer in two months. I’m thinking of traveling, or renting a cabin in New Hampshire for a few weeks.”
“Honestly, dear, I don’t know why you do it. If you're so determined to work you should go back to school and get a real degree in law or medicine like your father. Is it because you’re trying to meet a man?” her mother asked, sounding hopeful.
Smile. “No, I’m not looking for a man. I enjoy what I do.”
Her mother’s answer was a frown; well it looked like she was trying to frown. Actually, everyone at the table was frowning now. They couldn’t understand why she worked since none of them had ever worked a day in their lives. Personally she thought the whole bunch was rather spoiled and she was wondering why she came here in the first place. Then she remembered. She came here for Grandma. She couldn’t leave Grandma to these vultures and it didn’t hurt that Grandma threatened to take her over her knee and spank her if she didn’t show up.
“Sweetheart!” her father said, smiling hugely. He leaned over and kissed both cheeks. Smile. “Happy Birthday, sweetheart. I’m sorry it’s a couple of weeks late,” he said sheepishly.
“Thank you, dad,” she said, taking the birthday card. Smile. Her birthday had been five months ago. Yes, her entire family had forgotten, well except Grandma of course. She called at five in the morning, waking Haley up on her birthday, demanding that Haley should knock some sense into her parents. Haley calmed her down and thanked her for the gift she'd sent the day before. The next day she went and saw her. Her old nannies sent her birthday cards and gifts. Her friends made her a dinner and they went out, so it was okay.
“I can’t believe my little baby is twenty-five already!” he said.
“I know.” She couldn’t believe it either since she was twenty-nine, but hey if he wanted to make her younger who was she to argue?
“She’s twenty-nine, you fool!” Grandma said. “She turned twenty-nine in December. How I raised fools is beyond me,” Grandma grumbled.
Smile. “Thanks, Dad. It’s fine.”
His smile wavered and for the first time in her life he truly looked embarrassed and ashamed.
“I’m going to call you later this week,” he said firmly.
“Dad, it’s okay,” she said, letting him off the hook.
“No, it’s not,” he said before he forced the fake smile back and turned to respond to someone calling his name.
“Honestly, Haley. There is no need to create such drama over nonsense,” her mother said, trying to save face. Everyone sent her mother pitying looks and eye rolls at Haley as if it was Haley’s fault for simply living.
Smile. “Sorry, if you’ll excuse me,” she said, taking her card with her and sticking it in her purse. She walked over to her grandmother and sat down.
Grandma huffed. “I don’t know why you put up with such nonsense.”
“The hell it is!”
For the first time since she arrived she let out a real smile.
“Deborah, what are we eating today?” Grandma demanded of Haley’s mother, her least favorite daughter-in-law.
Her mother smiled, well tried to smile. “We’re having Salmon with broiled spinach leaves, a nonfat mock potato salad and some nonfat sugarless flourless soy French delicacies that are simply to die for.”
Grandma’s eyes narrowed dangerously as her hand went for the cane. Haley discretely wrestled the cane away from her grandmother.
“Hey, that’s mine!” Grandma snapped as Haley put the cane next to her chair, away from Grandma while rubbing the back of her hand. Damn, Grandma had a firm grip.
“Behave,” Haley hissed, making Grandma smile. Out of all the children and grandchildren Haley was the only one who treated Grandma as a human and not an old responsibility they got stuck with.
Grandma turned her attention back to Deborah. “I want a burger, a hot dog and some real potato salad.”
“Mother dearest, we simply don’t have that here!” she said as if the very idea of having such basic food items in her house was unheard of.
Grandma glared at her for a moment longer before turning her attention to Haley. “You?”