Laney’s Story

I catch a glimpse of Miles walking towards the car in the rear view mirror and my breath catches. For a moment it had been his dad’s image in the mirror. Perhaps it’s the way he carries the load of snacks in his arms while holding a bag of beef jerky between his teeth. Or it’s the way they both walk. It could be the sun in my eyes. Or a perhaps it is simply time to have the talk.

I promised I’d tell Miles when he turned eighteen, but that birthday passed over four months ago. Of course I didn’t want to disrupt his studies during the tail end of his senior year, then there was graduation and all the festivities, and now this much awaited road trip. Always an excuse to postpone the conversation, although I’m not sure why I am scared. I guess there is the possibility it will disrupt things, the nice flow we’ve settled into.

“Want anything?” Miles asks good-naturedly as he takes his seat in the passenger side in his own car. His own car. My son is a man now, although he looks like a gangly teenager, he drove us for three hours straight, until I offered to take over.

I shake my head ‘no’ as I ease back on to the highway. I don’t believe this conversation will ruin the trip for Miles, but it might ruin it for me. That is, not telling him is becoming an issue. I look over at my son and decide to leap. “Miles, I want to talk to you about your dad.”

“Go ahead,” He says, ripping into a bag of chips. “What about him?”

“Well,” I hesitate and look over at him. “I want to talk to you about his death.”

“Actually Mom, you don’t have to. Grandpa already told me.”

“What?” My heart  thuds against my sternum. I didn’t think my dad knew.

“Yeah. That was on his list of things to talk to me about before he died. Number one, actually.”

I couldn’t believe it. “Grandpa told you your dad was gay?”

“What?” Miles squeals and I look over in time to see a chip fall out of his mouth. He is coughing, so I wait.

“Oh . . . So I guess he didn’t tell you.”

Miles continues coughing and waves his hands in the air.

“Are you okay?” I ask.

“That’s not what he told me!” Miles squeaks out, then goes back to his coughing fit.

This isn’t going as smooth as I hoped. In fact, I am considering puling over and giving Miles the Heimlich maneuver, but then he takes a big swig of Mountain Dew and mutters, “Grandpa said that his death wasn’t an accident,” he coughs again. “He said he was really depressed and that he made it look like an accident by not leaving a note or anything, but then he drove off a cliff.” The tears in his eyes must be from choking.

“Yes, that is true. He did plan that accident. But Grandpa didn’t tell you why he was depressed?”

“Well, no. No. He didn’t say why. Why was he?” Miles squeals in a voice an octave too high.

“He wasn’t just depressed, he was gay. Your father was dying. He had AIDS.”

Miles shakes his head in disbelief, and continues to cough.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah. I mean I’m choking  to death, but I’m okay. Mom, how could that be?” I glance over long enough to see his face is still distorted with horror. “Do you have AIDS? Do I?”

“No, no, Miles. Neither of us have it. Your dad and I had . . . a different kind of relationship by that time.”

I look over again and see that the confused look on his face. “Okay, okay, let me explain.” I take a deep breath, put my hand at ten and two on the steering wheel and begin the story of what it is like loving a gay man.

 

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Flash Fiction – 500 words

Momma’s Inner dialogue

I’m glad that’s over with, but I have a long drive ahead of me. Tarzanna?  Never even heard of it before yesterday.  Sure don’t fit in with the “Five miles from home” rule I try to live by.  Guess they don’t have places like this in Long Beach.  Doesn’t make a lick of sense.  If they have drugs, why don’t they have a place to detox them?  I expect the drive will take me an hour, just hope there isn’t traffic.  I sure as hell hate driving.  Oh, the things I do for these kids.

Oh shoot, I gotta’ remember to add gas money to the list of what she owes me.  Oh, and three packs of cigarettes too.  Damn girl had the nerve to ask for a whole carton!

Well, at least I won’t have to worry about this one for two whole weeks.  Lord knows I have enough to worry about.  Locked up for two weeks, we’ll see what happens after that.  I really didn’t see this one coming, though.  Sure I knew she was up to something, but heroin?  I’m no saint, God knows that, but heroin?  I kinda’ expected all my girls to get in some sort of trouble, pregnancy, kicked out of school, arrested for shoplifting, but heroin?  And here this one seemed to cause the least amount of trouble up until recently.  No, I sure didn’t see this coming.

Oh, I’ll admit I suspected something was wrong when I got that bank statement in the mail, but she had good excuses.  Plus I hadn’t seen much of her lately, but when I did she always wanted to borrow money.  She was getting skinny as a rail too.  And those damn boyfriends!  She got so insulted when I asked if she was a “groupie” but every damn one of them is in a band.  Isn’t that what a groupie is?  Course she never picked a successful musician from what I can tell. None of em’ ever made any money at it anyway.  Buncha’ amateurs.

She could do better if she wanted.  I keep telling her she’s the prettiest of my girls, but she’s not looking too good right now.  Hell, she kinda’ looked like a wet angry cat.  Tried to get her to put on some makeup before I left, but she won’t listen to her momma’.  Complained she wasn’t feeling well, but putting on a little lipstick doesn’t take much effort.  I wear lipstick every day of my life, even when I’m in the hospital having babies.  No need to look like a damn corpse when God gave us lipstick and eye make-up.

Well, I hope she gets her shit together and knocks that crap off.  Get a decent job, put those typing skills to use, get some damn health insurance and quit adding to my grey hair!  Lord knows I have enough to worry about.  Damn kids.

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Flash Fiction – 500 Words

Mommy’s Little Helper

“Why are you doing that?”  He asked.

“Doing what?”

“Putting those lemons in the water.”

“It’s for my book club,” she answered.

“Why don’t you just leave the lemons on the side?   Maybe some people don’t want lemons in their water.”

“I just felt like doing it this way.  I think it looks pretty.”

“What looks pretty doesn’t always taste good.”

She knew he actually preferred lemon in his water and that he always thought he was right.  She wouldn’t argue.  She sprinkled powdered sugar on the lemon bars and began cutting them into squares.

“Who’s coming over?”  He asked.  She named the five women in her book club even though it had been the same five women for two years.  “Who’s Gina?” he asked just like the last time and she explained who Gina was again.  “How long are they staying?”

She asked if he would prefer if they do not meet there again.  She liked when the meeting was at one of the other women’s house and she could relax.  He said no and asked why she made lemon bars.

“Book club.”

“Well, I know that,” he rolled his eyes.  “I thought you were trying to lose weight.”

She didn’t answer and he added, “Can you make sure I get some this time?”

“Of course,” she answered.  She cut out two and set them aside and when he left the room she took out the bottle of pills she had hidden behind the bag of flour.  She broke open two capsules and sprinkled the white powder onto the lemon bars along with the powdered sugar.  She covered the little plate with clear plastic and put a post it note on top labeling them “Dad’s.”  The kids wouldn’t dare.  Then she washed some strawberries and put them on a big platter and surrounded them with the remaining lemon bars.

Gina arrived first and whispered “How’s it going with Josie Wales?”  That was their code name for him based on the handsome but cold blooded Clint Eastwood character.

“Oh, the same, but I feel hopeful.  I expect a change soon.”

Gina raised an eyebrow so she went on to explain, “You know how the doctor gave me antidepressants a few months ago but I never took them?”

“Yeah, you’re not really depressed, just married to an asshole.”

“Well, fair enough.  But since he won’t go to marriage counseling, I started giving him the pills.  On the sly.”  She grinned at her friend thinking she would get approval for her genius plan.

Gina started to say something, and then hesitated as she remembered that she had snuck Viagra into her ex-husband’s food.  That move had not saved her marriage.   “Yeah well, you need to try something.  I sincerely hope it works for you.”

“For him,” She corrected.  “I’m fine.  He’s the one who is miserable.”  And she carried her tray of beautiful refreshments out to the patio.

 

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