"T his is all really Dr. Seuss style,” Mimi said to Levi over the phone. “You know, ‘Wing, chang,’ says the sushi guy.” She switched her voice to Bea’s throaty tones , “‘I don’t know what you say, but you really can’t stay, my mom is away’...like that.”

Kaylie, at the computer behind her, giggled.

“It’s ridiculous,” Mimi continued. “And the servers are confused. Bea says this, Marcy says that. And ‘wing, chang’ goes the sushi guy. Poor Mommy, she has to be in the thick of this all day.”

Levi chuckled, but he sounded tired. “Mimi, just stay away from the kitchen. I don’t want you a mess at the end of the day.”

Mimi sniffed. “Yeah, sure.” As if she weren’t a mess right now, at the center of an avalanche of madness. Zoberman’s, the way she knew it, was gone. It was a horrible thought.

When she went for her egg later, she found Mommy soothing Kim, the new artisan bread baker. Kim was awfully skinny, long black hair, pointed eyebrows. She was passionate about her work, which was nice, but she took herself too seriously. Her feathers had been ruffled again, no surprise there. Probably by Manuel, who was standing over his onion rings.

Bea was not telling jokes or humming. She kept shooting fiery looks at Marcy, who fussed over Darrell, the new… ah, kitchen aide. He was supposed to be working alongside Bea, incorporating new dishes such as potatoes and mushroom ravioli in broccoli sauce... or was it spinach? Except Bea found his food repulsive, and he thought Bea’s cooking was quaint, sweet, and old-fashioned.

Mommy looked up. Her face was haggard.

“This was such... such a bad idea,” she hissed into Mimi’s ear.

Mimi nodded. For a moment, she felt vindicated, ugly, happy, awful. This was the closest Mommy had ever come to criticizing Kaylie. Not that she thought Kaylie was a charm — she wasn’t Daddy. But Mommy was Mommy, straight as an arrow. What’s right is right, and what’s wrong is wrong. And criticizing a daughter-in-law-is just wrong, and she wouldn’t do it.

“You look so tired, Ma,” Mimi said finally. “Did you eat anything today?”

“Daddy doesn’t serve me breakfast like he serves you,” Mommy said, pretending it was a joke. Mimi stared at her mother. Where did this come from? Mommy never said such things; it was horrible hearing her talk this way.

Her mother caught herself. “Sorry, that wasn’t appropriate. It’s just—” She stopped as the double doors swung open, Maddie swept in, followed by Ed, and Julio, and Candy. Mommy scanned their notepads, looking a little green. “You see,” she murmured to Mimi, “getting an order out when you have to deal with five different people, some of whom don’t speak the language... it’s just complicated.”

Mimi quickly reached for a roll, filled a bowl with cherry soup, and put them both on the little table in the back.

“Ma, your breakfast,” she called. Mommy nodded, though Mimi couldn’t be sure she heard.

Mimi forgot her egg, and headed out, bumped into Maddie as she left. She waved over Candy, Ed, and Julio. “Listen, guys,” she said. “Things are changing here — some of it is not fun. My mom is working overtime in the kitchen. Is there something we can do to make things smoother?”

“Handwriting lessons for me and Ed,” Julio smirked.

“Maybe if we send them all away, things would go back to normal?” That was Candy. Genius. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 595)