“Honey, was that really your Mother?” Dave probed.
Nell shot him a playfully nasty look.
“Yes, but no,” Nell replied, flopping in an overstuffed armchair the color of the caribean sea. Despite the fact that it was eight degrees outside, she reached for a nubby lime-green throw and shrouded herself with it.
“Come again?” said Dave removing his reading glasses and setting them on the side table. He patted the couch beside him, and Nell obliged by getting up and crossing the room to take a seat beside him.
Nell snuggled into the weight of her husband and rested her hand on his chest. “She sounded like my mother, said she was my mother, but…” Nell started, then lapsed into deep thought. “But my mother would never call me out of the blue after all this time. The last thing she said to me before I left…Well, how can she pretend everything is ok?”
“Now, babe.” Dave started, as he put his index finger to her lower lip– she hadn’t even realized that she’d been chewing on her lip until he’d pointed it out.
“Nora is six now, it’s been over six years!” Nell interrupted. “Nothing from her until now. Then it’s Hello, Merry Christmas, and why don’t you load up your family and come see Grandmother for the holidays?”
Dave leaned away from Nell, angling his body to face her. “Did she say why?”
Too agitated to sit still any longer, Nell got up and crossed the expanse of the living room, through the kitchen and into the laundry room. She reappeared within a few seconds toting a basket of laundry. Some people drink when stressed, but Nell folded clothes.
“No, but there has to be a reason.” Nell dumped the laundry in the floor and began lifting out clothes, folding and sorting it into three piles. “My mother never does anything without a reason.”
“Why didn’t you just say no?” Dave picked up a bag of chips, and his mostly-cute of devouring snack foods made just enough noise that for a few minutes no talking was possible.
Which was good, Nell needed time to process the phone call and come to terms with what it meant. So much time, so much living had gone into the years since she’d last spoken to her Mother. The last few years had taken Nell down a completely different path in life, but something told her that Eleanor hadn’t changed nearly as much.
Mouth still half-full of fried potato goodness, Dave repeated himself, breaking Nell’s chain of thought, “Well, why didn’t you just tell her no?”
“I don’t know, she sounded odd.” Nell picked up the pile of precisely folded clothes belonging to her daughter and stood to go put them away. “I started to… I wanted to.” Nell headed down the hall where their bedrooms lay, saying over her shoulder. “Before I could say anything, she just gave me all the flight details. I didn’t have time to say no.”
Dave chuckled, his voice carrying down the hall after Nell. “I don”t buy it,” he said playfully, “you find a moment to tell me no all the time.”
If you enjoyed this preview and would like to read more you can visit the Memories for Sale’s Amazon page .
This novella is also included in my collection, Reflections on Motherhood .