Mary startles awake at nearly midnight, a clamor echoing from the kitchen. It had been a typical Friday night of television, local news and sleep had just taken over. She elbows her husband but Charles only snores louder. Mary shakes her head at the slumbering lug and rips the comforter off. She slides into her slippers and puts on her robe. She opens her bedroom door, checks all the children’s doors before starting toward the kitchen. Mary shuffles down the hall and stops at the entry.
“What do you think you’re doing Young Lady?” She asks.
Her oldest daughter stands in front of the stove and turns toward her mother. “Making a snack.”
Mary sees her daughter is holding something in her hands, a clump she is rolling into a perfect sphere.
“It’s late for a snack, Lucy.” Mary chides.
“Not too late.” Lucy says, giving her mother a look in which Mary is all too familiar.
“It’s nearly midnight. You should be in bed.”
“I will.” Lucy replies, turning back to the skillet. “After this burger.” She drops the ball of ground beef on the skillet and grabs a silver spatula and smashes the ball flat, searing the meat.
“Lucy, it’s Friday. No meat on Fridays.”
Lucy turns sideways, looks at her mother and then checks the wall clock above her. “It won’t be in about 2 minutes.”
Mary glances at the clock and her face reddens. “Lucy, didn’t you have enough food at the basketball game?”
“Sure, popcorn and soda.”
“And I fed you dinner before you left.”
“We always have fish on Friday.” Mary states.
“And on Saturday,” Lucy checks the clock again, “I’m having a burger.”
Mary pushes her hands into the pockets on her robe and grinds her teeth. Lucy sees the coming storm and starts talking. “Mom, I know why we have fish Fridays–church and all that–but not all my friends are Catholic. At the game, everyone is eating hot dogs and I’m stuck with popcorn. I can’t even have pizza.”
“They only serve pepperoni.” Lucy says, smashing the burger patty with her spatula.
“You’re so dramatic.” Mary says.
“I’m following the rules. No meat on Fridays. Saturdays are mine.” The young chef says.
Mary sits at the table and watches her daughter. “I could pack your dinner up and you can take it to the game.”
“Yeah, right.” Lucy sneers.
“What’s wrong with that?”
“Perfect. You pack me a lunch for the game while everyone else hits the snack bar.”
“Our faith requires sacrifice.”
“It’s killing me.”
“Don’t be so dramatic. Jesus died for your sins. It’s a small thing to ask in honor of his sacrifice.”
Lucy shifts her weight onto one hip and hold the spatula, eyeballing her mother. “Mom, I’m not packing a lunch for the game. I want to buy a hot dog.”
“I can wrap a fish stick in a bun.” Mary says hopefully. “I’ll put it in foil and nobody will even know it’s fish.”
Lucy drops her hands to her side. “I would know, Mom.”
“I’m just trying to help, sweetie.”
“No thank you. I can see it now, I’m at the game, living in a world of hot dogs and I’m there holding a fish.” Lucy says to her mom. “Great. Just great.”
Lucy flips the patty and drops a slice of cheese on the sizzling beef. She washes her hands and grabs a bun. She smears mayonnaise on the bun, adds some lettuce, ketchup and mustard.
“You want one?” Lucy asks.
“No thank you.” Mary replies, biting her tongue.
Lucy plates the burger, slipping it off the spatula on the prepared bun. She pulls a chair from the table, sits down in front of her quarter pounder and checks the clock. Her eyes flicker with excitement and picks up the quarter pounder with both hands, studying the layers. “Here’s to Saturdays.” Lucy says.
Mary pushes away from the table and walks away. “Good night, Lucy.”
“Good night, mother.” Lucy says with enthusiasm. She opens wide, shoves the smashed stack into her mouth, closes her eyes and chews slowly, tasting every layer. Each morsel of gristle melts into the sweet bun, the cheese binding it all together. Lucy smiles with satisfaction, a dollop of ketchup on her cheek.