Third Sim of Thirty Sims at Three Rivers
3. Beef Stew
“Suppertime!” Esmeralda Mignon called to her family. “Stop what you’re doing and come and get it!”
“I set the table, Grammy!” said Sarah.
“Good job! How many places did you set?”
Sarah muttered to herself for a moment, MamaUncleStewardSashaGlorianaMeGramBeauTrishCelieForrestTravisCaroline…
“Thirteen!” she said, when she’d finished counting.
“Thirteen? That can’t be!” said Esmeralda.
“Because of Gran’s triskaidekaphobia,” explained Mariana, Sarah’s mom and Esmeralda’s eldest daughter.
“Trikadecker what?” asked Sarah.
“It’s a fear of thirteen. It’s unlucky,” Mariana explained.
“But why, Gram?”
“It’s not so much that it’s unlucky,” explained Esmeralda, “as it is sad. Why, do you know who was the thirteenth one to sit at our Good Lord’s table at that final meal?”
“No,” said Sarah.
“Why, it’s just about the saddest man there can be,” Esmeralda told her granddaughter, “and I can’t bear that number thirteen for that reason, the thirteenth apostle. And especially not for a place at a meal. Why, who would sit in that thirteenth chair? It would bring nothing but sorrow and sadness.”
“Aw, Gram, I’m sorry,” said Sarah. “I’ll sit there. That way nobody else has to feel the sad but me. Or if you like, I could skip supper altogether, and then you’ll have twelve, OK?”
“Nonsense,” said Esmeralda. “Everybody’s going to eat. I’ve found a way around this before, and I’ll find a way around it again.”
Esmeralda put the stew back on the stove to simmer. “Go back to what you were doing!” she called to everybody. “Supper will be a little while yet!”
Esmeralda ran outside, as she had done a time or two before and likely would do again, and stopped the first passerby she saw.
“Excuse me,” she said, “We’re just getting ready to sit down for supper. Would you like to join us?”
But the stranger was none too keen on the idea.
She saw their mail carrier on the river path.
“Why, normally I’d love to join you,” the mail lady said, “but I’m still finishing up my route. Maybe next time?”
In the courtyard, she stopped a young woman whom she’d seen walking through the neighborhood before.
“Why, yes!” the woman replied. “I’d love to join you and your family for a meal! I know your son, and I’ve met your granddaughters in the playground before.”
When they got inside, the family and guests were gathering in the living room.
“Ready to eat, Ma?” Gloriana, her youngest daughter, asked.
“Yes, indeed! Set another place!”
“Oh, there’s no need,” said Gloriana. “Travis had to leave so Indra can take his place.”
“But that makes…” Esmeralda began.
“Thirteen!” Mariana said, and her children laughed.
“I’ll go round somebody up,” said Malcolm, her son.
“Oh, don’t bother,” said Esmeralda. “I’ve got another plan.”
She packed the plates and silverware and napkins into a basket, which she gave to Mariana. She handed the salad bowl to Gloriana. She took the stew off the stove, dished it up in a big warming pan, which she handed to Malcolm.
“If the flock won’t come to us,” she said, “we’ll go to the flock.”
They carried their feast out to the park.
“Come and get it!” she called, and friends, neighbors, and passersby gathered round to join the meal.
“Every problem has a solution, praise the Lord!” Esmeralda said, while friends and family enjoyed the meal. “There’s plenty for all and we’re all well fed!”