On Alias

Over Suds

(In Which Experts Discuss the Relevance of Homely Details to the Appeal of a Certain Female Spy) (With Occasional Interruption by an Uncle)

By Julie E. Czerneda

The kitchen waits, countertops groaning beneath the remnants of the afternoon theme party with thirteen little friends too excited to clean their plates, but not too excited to sample every course; the obligatory survival tea for their parents; the family birthday supper for the lucky youngest (who missed most of it playing with her new toys and then falling asleep); and the final semi-exhausted round of wine and cheese on the back deck for those not in bed by seven.

The door cracks open, a beam of light falling on the towers of dirty plates and stacked pans, the forests of food-encrusted utensils and the seemingly endless array of glassware. With spots.

The door slams closed.

The kitchen waits.

A moment later, the door opens again, wider this time, and two women stride through, the first hitting the light switch to reveal the total carnage that lies within. By the way both put their hands on their respective hips and glare at the mess, they are related. By the difference in years, and jean style, one is old enough to be the other’s mother.

And is.

“What happened to using paper plates!?” the daughter wails. Let’s call her Abby.

The mother–let’s call her Abby’s mom–shrugs and heads for the upward heave of porcelain where the sink should be. “We did. It would have been worse if we hadn’t.” She pauses. “Remind me next time not to sit outside while the kids clear the table.”

Abby shakes her head. “I’ll wash.”  …

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