It’s a challenge to find short excerpts that make sense without context. I’ve found three possibilities. Which do you think works best as a stand alone? Your feedback is most appreciated.
“Hi, Mom. It’s Bobbi. How are you doing?”
“I’m surprised you actually called me,” she sputtered.
“Mom, what’s wrong?”
“Don’t act like you don’t know. You know very well”
“But I don’t. Can you tell me what’s happened?”
“You and your brother happened. That’s what.”
It’s amazing how much fury she can put into her words, how articulate she is when she’s angry. Lawrence thought his visit last week had gone well, but maybe not… Lord, help me understand what’s going on.
“Did something happen when Lawrence was here?”
The sound of the radio blared from her kitchen, but it didn’t cover the curse she uttered. “You’re nothing but liars and stealers, the both of you.”
“The accountant says they have more papers that have to be signed,” Mom said over the phone. “Maybe I did it wrong. I hope not. The government, you know. There could be trouble. I’m scared. I’m really scared. I mailed them. Mailed them in on time.”
“You always do your taxes carefully, Mom.”
“Well, not this time. I thought I’d be dead by now, so I didn’t keep my records very well.”
“You thought… you thought you’d be dead?”
“Well yes. I am eighty. I think. Am I eighty now?”
“You’re ninety, Mom.
“Really? Am I? In any case, I thought I’d be dead, and then you could worry about it. So it took me weeks and weeks to do them.”
I gulped, not knowing whether to laugh or be annoyed. Diplomatically, I did neither.
Mom carefully pulled the letters from the pile, laying each on the side counter. Next she neatly tucked and re-tucked the wad of papers into her purse, then took them out again, shuffled through the pile, returned them, took them out once more, turned them around and put them back.
Breathe. Breathe. Wait. No rush.
Now she turned to the packet of stamps and began to fumble with the cover. After several false starts she managed to open it, and then tried to hook the first stamp with her fingernail. Over and over, she flicked and scratched at it with no success.
“Here, I can help, Mom.” She had often told me how her fingertips were numb. It seemed reasonable that I assist.
I quickly placed three stamps on three letters and popped them into the slot under the counter. Mom put the rest of the stamps in her purse. As we left, I was careful not to make eye contact with any of the now-seven people lined up behind us.
I did hear Mom, though, as she quietly said, “I hope I can remember that the letters got mailed, since I didn’t do it myself.”
Oh, Lord, I never thought of that.
Which excerpt gets your vote? Let me know in the comments. I need to send it in this week.
Thanks in advance!