The Morrow Family Saga, Book Three: Laughing, Chapter Twenty-Four

Natalia and Shasta returned to school with adventures they could tell their friends. Their nights on Broadway, their exploration of both New York City and Washington, DC, and the celebrities they had met.They would both be the envies of their class. For at least half the coming school year, they would be local celebrities.

This played right into Natalia’s hands, since she saw herself as Des Moines’ answer to Marilyn Monroe and Rita Hayworth put together. She would play this celebrity thing until it was of no more use. Maybe then, she would have something else to keep her in the limelight. Still, she loved being one of the hippest kids in school.

Shasta was different. The celebrity status would only be cool for a few days. After that, she hoped it would fade and she could go on living in obscurity. She wasn’t out to be popular.

But, then, she was the sensible one. She wanted an education before she sought anything else. A career was worth having before thinking of a relationship. Someone had to grow up and take the reins of Morrow Mill Works when daddy got too old to run it and Nattie wasn’t going to do it. That left her.

Shasta hoped her sister would stop being so immature someday. It made the family look bad. Her aversion to learning. Her aversion to reading.

All Nattie seemed to want to be was an actress in a movie. Or on TV. Or on stage. She never seemed to want to be a part of the family.

It was sad. She had so many who loved her. Yet she ignored them. Perhaps it was because no one understood her. But she didn’t make it easy to understand her.

***

Michael sat in his office, reading performance reports. Merv had done well. Even for a two week cycle, production had been at an all time high. He was proud of his second in command. He had done well.

With profits soaring, he could afford to raise wages. Hell. He could also afford to buy new machinery as well. God knew they needed some new machines.

At this rate, He would possibly be able to expand his business. So many Iowa towns could use the help from a company such as his and he had a few in mind. Expansion was a good thing. He looked forward to it.

But, first, he had to call a meeting of the board. He never made a move without everyone being in agreement. It was just good business. It was called being honest.

He smiled. If they agreed, he would have to pick staff from his current workforce to manage them. It was the only way. The right way.

He picked up the phone. “Yes. Miss Hattie? Give me Joshua Pratt in accounting. Yes. Thank you.” He waited for Joshua to pick up. “Josh? It’s Mike. Just letting you know that I am calling a board meeting. Yes. Yes. The memo will go out in about an hour. Yes, you too.” He hung up, then picked the receiver back up. “Miss Hattie? Would you please come into my office? Thank you. Bring your pencil and notepad. Yes. Thank you.” He hung it back up and waited.

Miss Hattie Tennison entered the room. She was all of twenty, a tall blonde who held herself with a regal air. Michael liked that she was no nonsense. She was his secretary, nothing else. And he treated her with respect.

He knew about her fiance. she had told him about her relationship with the young man, Joseph Marple, when she first met the youth and Michael had let her know he was happy for them. He wished them the best.

She sat down in the chair across from him. “You needed me?”

Michael smiled at her. “Yes. I need you to take a memo.”

***

Valeria set about fixing  the family’s evening meal. She’d visited the butcher shop and had gotten some stew meat just before stopping at the farmer’s market to pick up some fresh vegetables. Soon, the farmer’s market would close for the year and she would have to rely on canned goods from the super market. Until then, she would enjoy her trips to the farmer’s market.

She had bought potatoes, carrots, cabbage, onions, beets, and celery. They would make a great stew. She smiled. Michael loved her stew. So did the girls.

She set about peeling the carrots and potatoes after she started browning the meat. As she peeled, she cut each potato and carrot into a Dutch oven. After the carrots and potatoes, she cut the onions, followed by the cabbage, beets and celery. To these, she added tomato juice and beef broth. She topped it all with a dash of salt and pepper, then added the meat.

Turning down the heat, she went to do laundry. She would return every so often to stir and make sure that it didn’t scorch.  As she passed the time, waiting for the stew to cook completely, she busied herself doing other tasks around the house. Vacuuming. Dishes. Dusting.

The wonderful smell of cooking stew filled the house in time for the girls to return from school. As always, they shared the task of setting the table. Tonight, it would be bowls, not plates. No forks or knives were not needed. But napkins would be.

Valeria had just turned the burner off under the stew when Michael got home. The girls greeted their father as they always had, with a sudden rush into his arms, then leading him to the dinner table. They helped their mother dish up the stew, then enjoyed a family meal. They discussed the day’s events as they ate and joked with each other.

After the meal, the girls went to their rooms to finish their homework. Michael and Valeria went into the family room and watched the evening news as they waited for the girls. When the girls appeared, the shows began. Michael sat back in his recliner. It was nice to share this time as a family.

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