A little offbeat from my usual Tues Tales as I’m treading deep A-Z waters. Today is letter N.
Seriously Mom, you shouldn’t be driving long distances anymore.”
This was before Marge lost her license driving into the wall of the carpet store.
“I didn’t. I drove a ten minute drive, to get my haircut.”
“And you rear-ended someone.”
“No one was hurt. The cars were fine. He was very nice about it.”
Marge for the life of her, couldn’t figure out why she’d told her daughter about the incident in the first place. Just as she wouldn’t always tell her about her falls when she’d forget to use her cane.
Jenna sat down on the old couch, its arms shredded by Fat Cat. “What exactly happened?”
“We were stopped at a light, that’s all. And I must have looked in the rearview mirror to check my makeup.”
Jenna just looked at her. Fat Cat slept behind her on the couch.
“I don’t know, things happen. My foot must have slipped off the brake for a second.”
“For a second?”
Marge got up to go into the kitchen. That’s where they usually sat anyway. Across from each other at the table. Especially during such interrogations that seemed to have become more and more frequent.
She didn’t know why she was in the kitchen. She didn’t eat much these days. She grabbed a bottle of Ensure.
“Is that all you’re eating these days?”
She turned to her daughter after taking a swig and said, “Oh, shut the hell up.”
Jenna’s mouth fell open into a small but perfectly round O.
Marge hadn’t expected to feel sorry. As suddenly and deeply sorry as once when she’d slapped Jenna, age eleven, across the face because Jenna had told her to shut up.
It wasn’t the telling her to shut up that made Marge feel sorry. Her daughter did need to shut the hell up.
It was the hurt look. The one that reminded her that her daughter, despite her interrogating, irritating ways, still looked to her. For mothering. As when she dropped by just last week in tears because her own daughter, at age nine, had threatened to run away.
“What am I doing wrong?” Jenna had sobbed.
They’d sat on Marge’s bed and Marge put her arm around her daughter, reminding her that she too at that age had threatened to run away.
Jenna didn’t remember.
Marge told her she’d offered to call her a cab but Jenna had said she’d go on foot, once she’d packed up her stuffed animals. She’d made it as far as the end of the driveway where she’d sulked until she was hungry for an Oreo cookie snack.
They’d laughed then, and Marge’s daughter had gone home feeling better. Comforted by her own mother.
Not this time. Jenna grabbed her car keys – that ring crowded with Stop&Shop, Target, Rite Aide, CVS, award cards that during their kitchen table interrogations she would restlessly flip and spin – and left in a huff. Tears in the corners of her eyes. As if she were running away again.