The damp fog refused to burn away, eating up their street until the suburb became still and their house an island.

She kept Annie and Ethan’s minds off the situation. Pulling the curtains tight against the gloom, she filled the kitchen with the rich smells of her special baking; the union of roasted nuts, nougat, honey and love.

“Your gluttony is an invitation for the devil to visit your grave,” she said, tousling the two young one’s ginger-streaked hair.

“Me,” she added, sneaking a sweetmeat, “I am the resolute paragon of restraint.” The children laughed, their fingers sticky with honey, their smiles glistening.

“Now, it’s getting late,” had she fooled them into forgetting the actual time of day? “Help me clean up this fine mess you’ve made!”

Usually, this ritual was done with Alexa playing music, light prisming through the suncatchers hanging by ribbony strings in the window. The children carried their one-step stools to the counter, raising themselves high enough to swipe at drying dishes.

The task done; she rubbed a daub of daisy-scented lotion on their hands. It was her signature scent; her kitchen always contained bundles of the flower – picked fresh from her garden in the summer; bought in huge bunches the rest of the year. She put her daisy-patterned apron on it’s wall hook, smoothed her hair, and said, “Let’s play  . . .”

She watched the children during the day when their parents were busy with other facets of life. But, when the first stirrings of the grey miasma crept through the neighbourhood, inwardly she knew she was now both parent and minder.

Concocted from the following mlmm prompts:

sunday writing prompt: ginger

wordle 226

photo challenge 353 (image Ellie Burgin, “bright blooming chamomile in the summer garden in daylight,”

tale weaver 314: lotion

first line friday: “The damp fog refused to burn away, eating up their street until the suburb became still and their house an island.”

wordle words: resolute; stirrings; string; late; keep; rich; union; inward; glutton; grave; invitation; paragon: “someone or something that is the very best. The English noun paragon comes from the Italian word paragone, which is a touchstone, a black stone that is used to tell the quality of gold. You rub the gold on the touchstone and you can find out how good the gold is.”