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The sun's beams, dancing through the leaves, struck the patio and tables with a kaleidoscope of colors. Their iridescence landed on the water then shot out in more directions as a fairyland sensation surrounded me. The hues merged and separated into distinct streams of light that commanded my attention. The yellows and pinks swirled and hypnotized me. I felt myself falling toward the mesmerizing rainbow. Blues and purples sang and blocked out all other sounds. Life would be so much easier if only the colors would pull me into their depths, never allowing me to resurface.

Abigail's loud voice, a voice that demanded my attention, caused me to cringe. Her uncaring words sliced through my thoughts and unguarded heart. I glanced around to see if anyone else at the outdoor restaurant heard her.

"I just don't see why you are talking such foolishness. Changing careers now will only cause hardship. What good can come out of it?" Abigail snapped as she deftly sliced through the tomato in her salad.

Her crisp outfit let everyone know she was in charge. If you weren't smart enough to comprehend that, she had her methods of making you see the light. Trust me, I knew. The soft grey of her clothes complimented her neatly-cropped black hair. Everything about her was neat and tidy all the way down to her smart-looking black shoes. Abigail pulled her lips up to one side. "Besides, you need to stick with what you are doing and improve your cooking skills. The gravy last week was still too lumpy."

She had to mention the gravy again. Abigail, my lovely mother-in-law, was perfect in every way, at least in her own eyes. But I fell short of being an acceptable daughter-in-law. Super short. As she droned on about my 'lack' of cooking and cleaning skills, the tranquil colors invited me to dive back in. I'd heard it all before. The house was never clean enough. I couldn't boil water. I never did enough for my husband or even her. No one cared that I was working full-time as a nurse. After arriving home from my shift, hours were spent picking up after my two teenagers that were never home but somehow still managed to destroy the house. Then I got to clean up the mess my husband, a man whose destructive tendencies would make a tornado jealous, had left behind. My efforts were never enough for this woman. Why did I even attempt to do better? Why did I bother to try and please her?

As the glass of water twirled between my hands, thoughts of just how badly I dreaded these lunches raced through my mind. Abigail did it to make me feel uncomfortable, to put me in a situation where she controlled the conversation, and the temptation for me to speak up wouldn't interrupt her diatribe. How I longed to live my life for me, just me, not for her or anyone else.

From the moment I had become involved with her son, she took it upon herself to point out my numerous flaws, and to mention repeatedly how her precious boy could have done so much better. Not once did she mince words or wait until I was out of earshot. "What about Claudia VanHurst? She was always a nice girl who had style." Another time, "Are you really sure this is the one? You could do so much better." Then to me, "Leigh, aren't there any other boys from your part of town that you would be more comfortable with?" Obviously she felt that I belonged to a different caste than her son.

Today, as I walked up to the table, Abigail had to comment how lavender was not a good color for me. "Really, Leigh, you'd think by now you would have picked up some fashion sense from me. That color is hideous for your complexion. You need darker colors like black and brown." Something also was said about my hair. "When was the last time you had your hair styled? It looks like it could use a little TLC." When I selected the crab salad and soup from the menu, Abigail remarked, "Salad and soup might sound healthier, but Leigh, as a nurse you should realize that they are not going to help you lose that weight you gained while you sat around this winter." I came to the conclusion years ago that even if I was Mother Theresa, in Abigail's eyes there would still be a million things wrong with me.

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Originally published at

Writer for ten years, lover of education, and degrees in business, history, and English. Striving to become a Renassiance woman.

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