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The Hope Garden

Listen to this piece in episode 19 of the podcast.


Shaundra dropped the metal spoon into her sister’s pristine kitchen sink, screwing her face up in displeasure.

“Sis, I just tasted this stew, and something ain’t right.”

Terri grimaced, looking down at the pot of beef stew on her 6-range gas stove. Her kitchen glistened in the waning waves of sun bouncing across every reflective surface of her Tuscan chic remodel.

“What do you think is missing?” Terri asked her sister.

“Let me give it another taste,” Shaundra said, rolling her eyes in that amused-to-be-consulted kind of way before grabbing a fresh spoon from the silverware drawer.

Terri had invited the whole family up from Atlanta proper to visit her new suburban home, and her sister Shaundra was the first to arrive, having promptly called in sick to her weekend Dollar Tree shifts, organized her two kids and pit bull pup named Sparkle into her old school candy apple red Monte Carlo with the illegal tints, and rolled up to her sister’s home. The home of a newly appointed judge and her doctor husband out delivering somebody’s first born.

“I think it’s missing hot sauce,” Shaundra said, already moving Terri out of the way. “hot sauce, a sprinkle of sugar, and more salt. Definitely more salt.”

Terri raised her eyebrows in alarm. “Well, I don’t have hot sauce…”

“No hot sauce?” Shaundra scoffed, eyes wide in surprise as if she’d been slapped.

“No,” Terri said, “but I have Siracha—”

“Siracha?”

“And I don’t have cane sugar, but I have Stevia and agave syrup—” Terri continued.

“No sugar? How you make cookies then?”

“I don’t,” Terri said, this time rolling her eyes in that amused-you-think-I-bake kind of way. Shaundra shook her head in utter disbelief.

“And as far as salt,” Terri said after a brief silence. “I like to reduce my intake, using my hope garden’s herbs…”

“No hot sauce, no sugar, and now you telling me that you growing a garden of dope,” Shaundra said, whispering conspiratorially.

“No, I said a hope—”

“Naw, what I hope is that you keep your rich people dope away from the police because they will come for you—I don’t care how rich and prestigious you get.”

“Shaundra, you misunderstood—”

“No, no. What you misunderstood is that if you don’t get to the store and buy some real hot sauce, sugar, and salt and put it up in this beef stew before everybody else gets here, you’re going to owe everybody gas money for this wasted trip, ‘cause we going back home,” she said with a wink in that love-you-but-I’m-still-the-better-cook kind of way.




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