She’s his mother, and he loves her. Of course he does. But, sometimes? Holy guacamole.
“I have to run some errands. Want to come along?” His mother has been bustling around all morning, and is now shoving stuff into her already overstuffed handbag. How she carries that thing, he can’t imagine. Not that he knows anything about physics, but if he did, physics would probably say that the weight of that bag hanging off her body would rip her shoulder right out of the socket.
She pauses at the door and looks back at him. “You coming?”
The fourteen-year-old is home from school today. It’s the first snow day of the year. He’s been watching an old Star Trek rerun, but he’s seen it about umpty-nine times. Besides, he likes spending time with his mother. Usually. He doesn't see much of his dad since the divorce, and ever since his older sister left for college, it’s been just the two of them. He decides to tag along.
“OK. Hey, Mom, can we get a hamburger at Shaunessys?” He’s pretty sure that he’ll see some of the guys at the luncheonette in the front of the popular variety store. Maybe he can spend the afternoon with them.
“Sure, but let’s get a move on. I have a lot of stops before then. Put your boots on. The snow looks pretty deep.” His mom heads out the door. “Lock the door behind you.”
The boy stops in the front hall, pulls on his boots and grabs his jacket from the jumble of garments hanging from the coat rack. After zipping up, he reaches into the jacket pockets and yanks out his hat and gloves and puts them on as he hurries to catch up with her.
They make their way around town, stopping at the gas station, bank, drug store, and dry cleaners. At each stop, the boy waits in the car fiddling with the radio dial while his mother goes in and takes care of business.
“One last stop at the post office, and then we can go eat,” she says as she hangs the cleaning from the hook behind the driver’s seat.
Finding a parking spot on Main Street is difficult. The plowed snow fills some of the available spaces. But after a trip around the block, his mother finds a space about midway between the post office and Shaunessy’s on the opposite side of the street, half a block away. As they cruised past Shaunessy’s the first time, the boy spotted a few of his friends sitting in a booth at the window and he's glad he decided to come along.
“Come inside with me, please. I’ve got to pick up some packages in addition to the regular mail, and I think I’ll need your help.”
His mother works at home, doing bookkeeping for several small businesses in the area, and she likes to joke that her office is in a post office box.
The wide flight of stone steps in front of the double doors of the post office are still slightly icy in places. They pick their way up and push through the doors into the warmth inside. His mother gets the packages from the clerk at the counter and hands them to the boy. Then she collects the envelopes from her “office” and they head out to drop the mail in the car before going over to Shaunessy’s.
As they start down the steps out front, the boy hears a slight yelp from his mother and looks over to see her sitting on the top step. To his horror, she continues down the remaining steps, bumping along on her butt like a demented slinky or something.
He just keeps walking and goes straight to the car. Out of the corner of his eye, he can see his mother get to her feet, brush herself off, and gather up the mail that went flying when she went down. He's pretty sure his friends across the street at Shaunessy’s must have seen the whole performance. When she gets to the car, he turns to her, his face now flaming red with embarrassment.
“Mo-om! How could you?”
Written for the Tenth Daughter of Memory