Julie entered the house and was greeted with the smell of yellow cake and homemade chocolate frosting cooking on the stove. She inhaled the sweet aroma and tip-toed to her room.
“Julie Harvey!” Viola snapped. Julie froze and then turned to face her mother. “Where have you been? And what did you do to your beautiful dress? This is unacceptable behavior, young lady! Go to your room and change. You wash your feet too! And since you did not obey me when I told you not to go outside again there will be no birthday cake for you tonight.”
“Hush and get going!”
Julie went into the bathroom where she sat on the counter and let the water from the sink trickle over her feet. Then she went to her room and put on a green dress. She left the other one crumpled on the floor.
“Do I look okay, Mommy?” Julie asked twirling for her when she got to the living room.
“Yes. Now children, play in here quietly until your father gets home. When he gets home we’ll have a nice family dinner. How does that sound?” Viola gave her children a weak smile.
“Sounds great, Ma,” Jimmy said. He was the oldest at fifteen and Viola’s favorite.
Jeff, Jackie, and George sat on the couch, hair neatly combed.
Viola had changed into a fresh lavender dress. She wore pearls around her neck and on her ears. She had brushed her hair making the dark locks that flipped out just below her shoulders shine. She continued to set the table.
“I’m home!” A familiar sound echoed from the door.
“Daddy!” Julie yelled and ran into his arms.
“Hello, kiddo! How’s my girl?” he said, embracing his daughter. Julie could smell the sweetness of lilies covered by the scent of smoke.
“You smell like,” she inhaled, pressing her nose to her father’s jacket, “like flowers!”
“Stop, Julie. Go help your mother.” Bill’s face hardened and his voice was stern.
“Yes, Daddy,” she said, going to the kitchen.
Viola was hunched over the cake spreading the frosting.
“Mommy, can I help with something?”
“No, no,” Viola said moving a hair out of her face. She put the frosting covered spoon by the sink and went to the dining table, cake in hand. “Julie! Don’t get in the way!” she said, almost tripping over her daughter who stood in the doorway between kitchen and dining room.
Julie frowned and walked to the sink to lick the spoon her mother had left on the counter. She reached her arm up and then looking down saw the trash can with the bouquet of dandelions crumpled and turning brown among the other unwanted remnants and debris of the day.