Friday Five August 20

crosswalk, background, absence, address, hope


Charlotte saw the light turn green and dashed across the crosswalk, feeling some of the eggnog latte swish out of her mug and down on her hands. She waited until she was safe on the other side, and sloppily tried to wipe of her right  hand with the edge of her sweater. Not the best option, but she had no way to put it down. She drank it all down quick. She wished she had something stronger to drink-even though she knew full well alcohol did not agree with her.

It’s just a wreath. It’s just a little Christmas shopping with your mother. 

Wasn’t this supposed to be joyous and exciting? Didn’t all those Lifetime movies show mother’s and daughter’s sharing heartfelt holiday secrets. 

Her rucksack was on her back and she plunged back into the cool air conditioning of the Knots & Knits.  Her mother was still there, of course, drumming her fingers on the wood counter as the woman behind it stared wide eyed.

“I was very specific with your manager about how I wanted them framed.”

“Yes, ma’am. I’m so sorry ma’am.”

The framed family portraits were only one of a long list of Christmas related purchases. Charlotte had no idea why the portraits were so important. Her mother, Angela, rarely had a holiday that wasn’t on the road when she was growing up. She’d lived with her dad and stepmom and spent every holiday with them. Her mother’s absence was barely noticed. 

Until this year when her dad had suggested she spend the holidays with her mother. This was the biggest mistake of her life.

The strains of holiday music played in the background. It was faint, but she recognized her mother’s voice. Whatever her faults Angela Redmond’s soprano was the envy of angels.

“My daughter’s back finally,” her mother walked over to her. “ I need to send all the details and addresses…”

“ I put it all in your phone,” Charlotte sighed. 

 “Don’t sigh dear it’s not attractive,” her mother said sharply handing her phone over. 

“What’s that on your sweater,” her mother hissed in her ear. “Coffee. I didn’t teach you better than to walk around with coffee stains.”

Clearly she’d been hoping against hope that it wouldn’t be noticed. 

“I spilled it in the parking lot.”

“All over yourself. You smell like a dessert. I can’t believe this.” Her mother reached into her handbag.

“I can’t be expected to work this thing Charlotte. You do it.” She handed it over to, nodded to the harried woman- behind the counter-and walked down the next aisle.

Charlotte didn’t sigh. She bit her lip to keep from screaming as her mother high heels make a clicker clack retreat.

Twelve days until Christmas is too far away.

Copyright Echo Ishii 2021

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