Family Recipe

EXT. QUIET SUBURBAN NEIGHBORHOOD – EVENING

Snow gently falls upon the roofs of this quiet suburban neighborhood. Christmas lights dimly shine among the blanketing layers of snow. Mock mangers with ragdoll baby Jesus’ are spotlighted on spacious front yards. Unoccupied sidewalks peer into the homes where families have gathered for the traditional holiday feast.

INT. QUAINT MOUNTAIN TOWN HOME – EVENING

JASON, a youth pastor, husband, and father, gathers his three beautiful children around the fireplace to read stories of Christmas past. His wife, GRACE, rushes around the dining room table in an overly festive apron making sure everything is set just right. Wrapped presents line the base of their well-decorated tree along with a toy train making its rounds. Gentle Christmas music plays in the background as JASON’s parents sit on the couch admiring the joyful glow of their grandchildren’s face. BARBARA, their grandmother with dementia, approaches GRACE.

BARBARA

Grace, honey. Everything looks fine, do you need any help in the kitchen?

GRACE

Think I’ll be just fine Barbara, I appreciate the offer.

BARBARA

Well of course dear. If it’s alright with you, I’m going to finish prepping my apple pie.

GRACE

Yes, please. Make yourself at home, I’ll be clearing out of the kitchen here shortly. After all, what would Christmas be without grandma’s family recipe?

They both share a laugh. BARBARA turns and rolls her eyes. SCOOTER, the family golden retriever enters wagging his tail ever so cheerfully joining the children among the fireplace. A collective “Awww” is shared as SCOOTER gives kisses to their youngest child, MAXIMILIAN. As the nine-month-old begins to cry, BARBARA makes her way into the kitchen.

INT. MODERN KITCHEN – EVENING

A delicious aroma fills the air, as the sink is filled with used pots and pans. GRACE finishes plating each dish, garnishing them to perfection. Frantically pacing between the kitchen island, the stove, and the oven, she finally stops to take a breather turning an oven timer on. Loosely grasping her wine glass, she empties what little remains in a large bottle of Shiraz.

GRACE

How’d you manage it all Barbara?

BARBARA

What’s that dear?

GRACE

The kids, the cooking, the holidays…life?

Amused, BARBARA chuckles behind her dentures as she begins to delicately slice her pie crust. GRACE sips her shiraz and continues to ramble.

GRACE

I mean, I get it. I’m a mom…this is what we do. I’m just tired of it all. Does it ever slow down?

BARBARA

Eventually, it will, dear. At times like this, I turned to scripture. “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction-

GRACE

…faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12 Yeah…I know. God, you sound just like Jason.

BARBARA humbly continues to prepare her pie as GRACE babbles on.

GRACE

You know Maximilian was an accident, right? Of course, the youth pastor’s wife couldn’t have an abortion because that would just be the worst. Nonetheless, Max-a-million dollars down the drain. (beat) I shouldn’t have told him it was a boy. I think he would’ve been open to the idea of abortion if he didn’t know.

The oven timer goes off. Swiftly pacing throughout the kitchen, GRACE places the potatoes in a bowl, sauce in a gravy boat, and continues to rant while tossing a salad.

GRACE

I’m the one who makes the money in this house, he just sings to kids at church on Sunday mornings. Sometimes I just can’t believe how far I’ve dug myself in this relationship. Especially after the whole gay porn debacle. I know our intimacy is lacking, but Jesus fucking Christ Jason, just go be with a man. I’m not angry about it. I’m upset because you blame yourself for these perfectly natural feelings, then come tell me I’m at fault and need to give in to your needs. Sorry, I don’t have a dick Jason, but please keep hiding your sexuality behind me. Beard looks better on me anyway.

Catching her breath for a moment, GRACE then finishes off her glass. SCOOTER makes his way into the kitchen wagging his tail gleefully.

GRACE

I’m going to grab another bottle of wine; did you need anything else for your peach cobbler Barbara?

BARBARA

No thank you, dear, everything I need is right here.

BARBARA’s welcoming smile fades into a maniacal grin as GRACE exits the kitchen.

BARBARA

It’s an apple pie, bitch.

Whisking the remainder of her filling, a small bit spatters onto the floor. SCOOTER immediately licks up the delectable mixture of butter, sugar, cinnamon, apples, and of course, other secret family recipe ingredients. BARBARA begins to lay the dough in a lattice atop the pie. SCOOTER lies down behind the kitchen island beginning to whimper. Whistling ‘Jingle Bells’ cheerfully, BARBARA places hot pads on her hands and slides her beloved apple pie in the oven. SCOOTERS whining has faded into silence. Removing her hot pads, BARBARA bends down grabbing SCOOTERS hind legs casually dragging him out of the kitchen. GRACE enters with a new bottle of wine. Inhaling deeply through her nose, the scrumptious smell tickles her taste buds.

GRACE

Oh my god. For a crazy old cunt, she really makes the greatest desserts.

Placing her bottle on the kitchen island she rubs her fingers against the steel mixing bowl about to snag a taste. BARBARA enters, quickly scampering over to GRACE grabbing the nearest washcloth forcibly cleaning her fingers.

BARBARA

Oh no, dear. You don’t want to eat that raw. You’ll get very ill. (beat) Gravely ill.

GRACE

Alright. Sorry, guess I couldn’t help myself. Ha-ha. The smell is so…enticing. Can’t wait to get my hands on a slice later.

Removing her apron, GRACE begins uncorking another bottle of wine as BARBARA rinses the mixing bowl.

GRACE

Let’s get the food out on the table, what do you say?

BARBARA

What would you like me to carry out first dear?

GRACE

Go ahead and grab the salad and rolls, I’ll follow with the potatoes and gravy.

Filling their arms, they exit towards the dining room.

INT. DINING ROOM – EVENING

JASON and the children are still gathered around the fire finishing up their story. BARBARA and GRACE place their dishes amongst the decorative table where festive placemats, good china, and the special occasion silverware is aligned just perfectly. Dimming the overhead light, GRACE calls to her children.

GRACE

Girls go wash your hands for dinner. Jason honey can you get Max settled in his highchair, please?

GRACE exits. The girls skip off towards the powder room as JASON playfully picks up MAXIMILIAN.

JASON

Hey bubba, are you ready for Christmas dinner? Yes, yes you are.

JASON nudges his father, DAVID, who’s drifted off on the couch.

JASON

Dad. Dad, dinner’s almost ready.

Waving him off, DAVID starts to get up. Pulling a flask from his sweater pocket, DAVID sneaks a swig as JASON fastens MAXIMILIAN into his highchair. The girls come running back into the dining room finding their seats and wait ever so patiently. BARBARA walks over to DAVID confiscating his flask smacking him across the chest. The girls giggle softly to each other. JASON, BARBARA, and DAVID find their seats as GRACE presents the main course of holiday ham.

JASON

Wow, Grace honey this looks just fantastic.

GRACE

I hope it tastes half as good as it looks. I’ve been at it for hours.

GRACE sits next to JASON who’s placed at the head of the table. The girls both reach for a roll, JASON stops them.

JASON

Ahem. Let’s bow our heads in prayer.

The girls drop the rolls placing their hands in their laps, bowing their heads with the rest of the family. As JASON starts the prayer, BARBARA lifts her head looking around the table silently judging each person in disgust.

JASON

God, our Creator, we humbly pray to you on this Christmas Day. We’ve gathered to worship with a song of thanks in our hearts. We pray for joy in our souls, hope in you God, and happiness for those surrounding us this evening. We ask for the salvation of all our family members, and we pray your blessings on all people. In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.

After a collective “Amen.” The family dives hungrily into the first dish of their choosing. JASON stands to slice the ham as his family happily feasts. GRACE dices a variety of foods for MAXIMILIAN, who smiles graciously at his mother as she feeds him. Dinner seems to be going well as the plentiful servings quickly empty off their plates licking the silverware clean. Except one. BARBARA sits patiently, barely touching her plate she seems to have a different appetite this evening. Examining the table, BARBARA knows the time has come…time for dessert that is.

BARBARA

Well, I’m hoping everyone has saved room for dessert.

JASON

Well, of course we have mom.

BARBARA intently, yet sluggishly walks into the kitchen for her pie. GRACE nudges JASON in attempts to have him speak up to the girls who are visibly uncomfortable.

JASON

Girls, grandma…grandma isn’t feeling herself. And, she’s really excited to share her dessert with us.

GRACE

And it’s really good.

JASON

Family recipe in fact, right dad?

David nods and smiles at the girls.

GRACE

What we’re trying to say is, that when you eat grandma’s apple pie tell her how much you like it.

Returning with the apple pie, BARBARA slowly takes a lap around the dining room table trailing the delectable aroma past each member of the family. An uneasy silence loiters the dining room table as BARBARA begins to cut everyone a slice. Plating each slice individually, BARBARA then passes one out to everyone.

JASON

Mom, it smells incredible. Doesn’t it, girls?

The girls nod in false enthusiasm as everyone begins to devour their slice of apple pie. DAVID’S head gently slides back into his seat. Before JASON can react, he also slumps over in his chair. GRACE attempts to stand falling to the ground lifeless as the girls inaudibly faceplant onto their dessert plates. MAXIMILIAN cries as BARBARA struts confidently around the table once more in a psychotic victory lap. Reaching MAXIMILIANS highchair, BARBARA begins to sing calming him.

BARBARA

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way…

Digging a spoonful of apple pie, BARBARA teasingly places it in front of MAXIMILIANS face.

BARBARA

Shhh,…it’s alright, who’s a big boy? Open up for Santa’s sleigh.

Taking a bite, MAXIMILIAN smiles graciously at his grandmother. His adorable expression fades as his eyes begin to close. BARBARA begins to clean the table stacking the dirty dishes around her deceased family members humming along to the light Christmas music.

 

© John Marrows All Rights Reserved

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