I confess sci-fi is not me. No way am I up for this week’s #BlogBattle prompt. Instead, I offer this short story for your weekly entertainment.
I never understood her—my mother: blonde, a goddess, svelte and self-assured like my older sister. I was the dark one, the disappointment. How had that happened? I could not be more different from them: neither as smart nor as trim. They chummed together like girlfriends, leaving me out in the cold.
She promised to meet me at Starbuck’s Saturday morning. I arrived early. My heart pounded and the acid in my stomach burned like the searing edge of a hot knife churning pirouettes. She breezed in like she owned the place. The shop almost empty, I was easy to find.
“Mother,” I said, “new suit?” She always dressed well. She had the figure for it, of course.
“Are you all right dear? You appear flushed.” She reached across the table and checked my forehead with a cool hand as if I were a child. “I’ll get the coffee.” A pat on my shoulder and I watched her heels clickety-clacked across the stone tile floor.
I gulped air in hopes of calming down, but she returned too soon.
“Still black, I take it. Thought we’d splurge with a couple brownies.”
Brownies. One minute she told me to lay off the sweets and the next she offered them. Either I was losing my mind, or she was. I took the lid off my coffee cup to cool it quicker.
“It’s clear to me, dear, you’re upset about something. Man troubles? School?” Flawless, penciled brown brows rose to perfect peaks.
“You came.” The words popped out before I realized I’d said them aloud. I clamped hands to my mouth.
“Yes. You invited me. Remember?”
“I’m surprised you made it—so busy with all your clubs—and Melissa.” I watched her face. None of her thoughts showed.
She had the decency to blink, false lashes aflutter. Her flaming pink mouth worked like a fish out of water. “What is wrong with you? I love you both the same.”
The audacity of the lie. “I’m not in the least like you or Melissa. I don’t match—don’t fit.”
“How old are you?”
“You don’t know?”
“I mean at 21 you’re acting like a six-year-old.”
“You and Melissa—always together, joining clubs, chapters this and that, whispering, laughing.”
“Do you like or enjoy these groups and societies?”
“Well, no—but you never have time for me.” Bile fought to strangle me, but I fought back. “Then you send me away to school. I wanted to attend college in our hometown but no, it had to be university.”
“Lily, dear, what’s this about? You’re fifty miles from home and in your last year. Are you taking your medication? You’re not yourself.”
“How would you know? Here’s the other thing, my coloring is so much darker than anyone else in the family. Melissa is like you. I’m nothing like you two, I’m loose fat…” I swallowed the howl threatening to undo me. I will not cry. I will not!
“You take after your grandmother, Esther Maria, on your father’s side. You know this. What a Spanish beauty—you look exactly like her, same thick hair and smoky eyes.”
“Right. A fat beauty with fat hair. Am I adopted?”
“Nothing about this conversation makes sense.” Mother picked up a napkin and fanned herself. She scanned the half-empty coffee shop with ice blue eyes.
I almost heard the gears in her head grinding, devising lies. “Easy to tell me whatever you want. How did you find time to visit me at last?”
Her look made me squirm. “I told you about the obligations I couldn’t break. I’m here now. Look, sweetie, your grandmother died before you were born. You’ve seen her pictures and heard the stories. This is crazy. ”
“So now I’m crazy?” I wanted the talking to stop. I didn’t like it anymore.
“Have you had headaches lately, or trouble sleeping?”
I shrugged. What had that to do with anything? “You love Melissa better, don’t you?”
“Take my hand. I have five fingers. Which one shall I cut off because I don’t need or want it?”
“Which daughter means less to me than the other?”
“You’re always talking in riddles.”
“Tell me which one and I’ll chop it off.”
“No. you won’t. You’re just saying that.” I slouched in my chair but did not break eye contact.
She stared me down. I flinched. Her chair scraped the floor. An iron grip clutched my arm. “Let’s go.”
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© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles