She wasn’t looking forward to seeing his parents today. Louise hadn’t spent one on one time with them yet, and the way Tom went on about them, she didn’t want to. It seemed Tom had nothing nice to say about them, and her impression was that they were the intolerant types, and self-righteous. Tom always said he was raised “well enough” in the scheme of things, but she felt a tad isolated. He was pushed to be a success  and lacked for nothing, except maybe some emotion and warm-heartedness. They’d always been strict with him, and were all business.

At least he knew right from wrong.

They’d always been different. Being the only Mormons in a town full of Baptists and heathens will do that. Tom grew up in the church, and as a youth didn’t have much interaction with anyone else. He associated mainly with the few other Mormon families in town. For years he’d seen them every morning at 6am, when he was pulled from his bed to attend daily seminary, before regular school, where he pretty much kept to himself. He was told those others would pollute his mind and heart.

He still mostly believed this was true.

Tom escaped the confines of his religion somewhat as an adult, although he still went to church from time to time, with his parents, and certainly had those particular beliefs were still deeply ingrained. It was all he’d known. Overall, he learned to bend to get through. Since Tom and Louise were married they’d knocked heads on this issue more than a few times, and though Louise tried to be gentle, she made sure in no uncertain terms that he knew where she stood. A philosophical divide, but they agreed to disagree. Tom was jumpy and nervous with his parents coming, walking around in circles and agonizing over the “what ifs”. Louise said, “a simple and quick little lunch won’t be too painful.”

She made stew.

Tom heard them pull up in the driveway and went over to open the front door. They got out of the car, with his mother looking up and down the street at the neighborhood and examining the yard and house, while his dad was at the trunk unloading packages. When his mom saw Tom she walked over and gave him a kiss on the cheek and a tight hug. “Let me look at you,” she said, stepping back and giving him the once over. “Are you getting enough to eat, is she feeding you good?” She had a concerned expression on her face and was shaking her head. “You’re looking thin to me Tom are you okay?”

“Yes Mom, I’m eating fine. Of course  I’m okay. Louise is the best cook. I’m not too thin believe me.”

When they walked in the front door Louise had everything on the table, and stood in the dining room to greet them. “Hello Mr and Mrs Dudley. WELCOME. She walked over to take their coats, and Tom’s mom walked right past her, apparently anxious to take in the scene. She peeked her head in the kitchen, then looked around and up the steps. “It’s a nice place Tommy.”  She looked past Louise,  seemingly more interested in taking inventory of her son’s life.

Tom said, “Mom, why don’t you just sit down here,” pulling out a chair. His dad was already sitting down, talking about how good the food smelled and how hungry he was, and how his blood sugar must be low after the long trip, and how they had to deal with all that traffic, and all those things people talk about. Louise filled the plates up with stew and that good corn bread. They settled for lunch.

Mrs Dudley fixed her gaze on Louise.

“So dear, what have you been doing since my Tommy moved in with you?  Have you talked about attending the council? You should be raising your children in some religion, and I know you don’t have any beliefs yourself.”

Louise was prepared for something like this, but was determined to keep it civil. “No Mrs Dudley, we haven’t thought about going to church. But as you know I was raised Baptist, so our children will be raised with morals and values, of that you can be sure. We’re not really that worried about it right now.”

Mrs Dudley eyeballed her, and you could see the wheels turning. “But dear, you SHOULD be worried, I mean with the way things are nowadays. The breakdown of the family and everything just running WILD in this country. It’s very important you have a strong foundation. Don’t you think so? The council will teach you all of that. Tommy knows, right Tommy?” She raised her eyebrow and looked at Tom, who looked down at his plate.  “Even with this election. I hope you’re going to vote for the right man at least. These are such uncertain and confused times, the end times you know, and we have to be prepared. That Eric Cantor, he’s been chosen by God and shares our values. He’s a Jew I know but we need someone with values in there. We’ve got to turn things back and stop all this running rampant. I hope you plan on voting for him, dear. All this immorality, it just has to stop.” She looked at Tom, “He’s the one you’re voting for, right Tommy?”

Tom nodded affirmatively.

“Mrs Dudley, with all due respect, you know I wasn’t raised with your beliefs, and don’t hold them today. I’m not voting for the likes of that man, sorry. I’m voting for the other guy.” Didn’t Carmen say she had to learn better to speak her mind?  “My personal beliefs tell me to love my neighbor as myself. And not to hate and divide and force my beliefs down other people’s throats.”

“Louise!” said Tom.

She dropped her fork on the plate.

“Tom, I told you I’m not going to stand for this! I’ve told you that from the beginning. Your God doesn’t run this country. Can’t we try to have a nice lunch?”



  1. I liked this piece. I was glad to see Louise hold to her values and not be afraid to speak up.

  2. You just described a horror story in the most banal of terms. Very scary and very well-written, as always!

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