The Perfume

Summary: Anne recalls a special Mother's Day gift from long ago. "Bedsprings" inspired this very short Homefront story.

Disclaimer: Homefront characters belong to their creators. No copyright infringement intended. No profit is being made. Some of the dialogue that appears in this story belongs to the writer of the Homefront episode "Bedsprings".

Author: Tracy Diane Miller

Anne carefully removed the meatloaf from the oven, the wonderfully intoxicating smell of meatloaf permeated the air and greeted Jeff as he entered through the kitchen door.

"I was about to put the meatloaf in the icebox. You want some?" She asked him.

"No." He replied. Jeff reached into his pocket and removed the tiny package. "I got this for you."

Anne gazed momentarily at the gift, an expression of shock painted over her face. "Why?"

He let out a small chuckle. "Do I have to have a reason to get my mother a present?"

Anne gently took the gift from his hands. She smoothed her hair as she unwrapped the package. "Perfume." She acknowledged. Anne walked towards him and enveloped him in a warm embrace. She could have sworn that she felt him shaking slightly, but maybe she just
imagined that.

The hug lasted for a few moments. When it ended, Jeff kissed his mother lightly on the cheek before going upstairs to his bedroom.

Clutching the perfume in her hands, Anne looked around the empty room. This kitchen held so many memories, a place where both happy and sad moments were forever trapped like ghosts searching for a comfortable place to rest. But there was one memory that would be
forever burned into her brain. It was a special, happy moment from so long ago.

May 1933

Nine-year old Jeff Metcalf had been very secretive about what he planned to give his mother for Mother's Day. Even a torturous tickling session from his older sister hadn't made him reveal the
secret. Linda was merciless in her tickling. She knew all of his most vulnerable spots. He had laughed so hard that he thought that he was going to explode. When Hank walked by the bedroom and saw what Linda was doing to their younger sibling, he quickly insinuated
himself into the situation. Jeff said a silent prayer of thanks. The cavalry had arrived.

More like enemy reinforcements. Hank wanted to know what Jeff had done to warrant such treatment. Linda explained that she had told Jeff what she was giving Mom as a Mother's Day present and Jeff refused to reveal his gift. Hank paused for a moment, his gaze darting from his brother to his sister. He let out a breath before saying that there could be only one "punishment" for Jeff's secrecy. Then, he jumped on Jeff's bed and assisted Linda with the tickling. It was only when Jeff was able to spurt out between giggles that he was going to have an accident that the torture session ended.

The shy little boy was also very clever. Whenever Mom scolded him, she'd always say that he was too clever for his own. Most times, that cleverness got him into a world of trouble. But not this time.

For years, the Metcalf children had always pooled their money together to buy Mom a Mother's Day present. However, this year, Jeff had announced that he wanted to buy his own present. The
announcement took Linda and Hank by surprise. They were further surprised when he revealed that between doing chores for a few months for Mrs. Seniff and the money that Aunt Irene had given him, he had saved almost three dollars. He was going to buy Mom a swell present. It was going to be the best Mother's Day ever!

Jeff found it hard keeping still in church and listening to the sermon. Mom had decided that it was best if they gave their presents after services. The little boy was so excited about his gift. Not surprisingly, the church services seemed unusually long this Sunday.

The family returned home. Anne and the children were assembled around the table as they handed out their gifts. Hank and Linda's wrapped gifts had already been placed in the kitchen before the family left for church. Hank's gift was a new tea kettle. Linda's present was a new sewing basket. Jeff was very quiet as he watched his siblings. Finally, it was his turn. He carefully removed an envelope from his jacket pocket and handed it to his mother. With a
smile on her face, Anne opened the envelope. The handmade card, created from white note paper, contained a small poem written in Jeff's best Catholic school penmanship. Anne's eyes glazed over with tears as she read her son's words. With those soft and gentle mud
green eyes, Jeff stared at his mother and she instinctively knew. She asked Hank and Linda to leave the room for a moment. They didn't understand why, but they obeyed their mother's request.

A few seconds after his brother and sister left the room, Jeff removed another gift from his jacket pocket and handed it to his mother. Anne gently opened the small box wrapped in gold tissue
paper. Once again, her eyes welled with tears, for inside the box, was a small bottle of perfume. The perfume was something that she had admired when she was in Brandstaetters a few months ago. But she had never considered spending money on herself for such a frivolous gift,
not when she had children to feed. Anne had forgotten that Jeff was with her at the time.

"Perfume." Anne said, smiling through her tears.

Jeff returned her smile. He arose from his seat and walked over to where she was sitting. Anne enveloped him in a warm hug.

The sound of children's laughter that could be heard outside of the kitchen window shook Anne from her reverie. A small tear trickled down her cheek. Their family had been through so much during the last few years, but now she had faith that everything was going to be
okay. Hank was back home from the war and he and Sarah were going to
get married. Although she knew that Jeff was happy to have his
brother back home, she sensed that he was upset by all the recent
changes. While Hank was away, Jeff had been the man of the house.
Anne suspected that Jeff wasn't happy about once again being looked
upon as the "baby brother." And she knew that he was unhappy about
having to surrender his room to Hank and Sarah. That was the reason
for him moping around the house and why he's been avoiding Sarah and
snapping at both Hank and Linda.

But Jeff was a good boy, a shy and sensitive boy. Anne said a prayer
that he'd one day find a young woman who would appreciate the kind of
young man that her youngest son was.

"And please let her be Catholic". Anne quickly added.

The End