Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Short Story

DRINKING COFFEE IN THE MORNING

by

LINA BOOM

Doris

August 6; 6:30 AM

Debora and Amy are coming over today. So are the Wilcotts and Snudgrasses. I haven’t seen Amy since she graduated. Her mother’s kept her busy with all those job applications, grad-school applications, and all those other things. Poor girl. Last time she was here, she broke down because she was under so much pressure. I wish I could tell Debora, but she wouldn’t listen to me. She stopped listening to me…I don’t remember when. Sometime at college. Maybe it was after college. I don’t remember. One day I just realized that I wasn’t getting through. One day I realized that I’d lost my daughter.

It’s a terrible thing to lose a child. I’m not just talking about death. I’ve asked Debora what I did wrong. Her jaw just got really tight and she answered me, cold as ice, “If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you.” That’s when I really knew I’d lost my daughter.

I guess that conversation confirmed that it was my fault, too. I guess I’ve known that the whole time. I just don’t know what it was. The only person who knows the answer isn’t really talking to me. Don might have known, but he’s gone. Debora and Don were really close. It’s a terrible thing for a daughter to lose a father, no matter how old she is. He was too young. He barely got to see Amy walk. But that’s all over now.

It’s getting late. I need to go start cleaning. My coffee is getting cold, anyway.

Debora

August 6; 7:30 AM

Today was sprint training for the half marathon. I just finished. I’m drinking the Kona Blend that Amy bought me for my birthday. I’m not supposed to add coffee back into my diet for another month, but I decided I needed it today.

I’m going to Mom’s for lunch. It’s only for a couple of hours and Amy really wants to go. She’s so good to her grandmother. I’m glad they have a close relationship. Mom doesn’t seem to annoy her as much as she does me. All Mom’s judgmentalism seems to just roll off Amy’s shoulders. Amy is so precious and so smart. I appreciate her so much. I wish Mom would have appreciated me that way.

Oh stop it Debora. You haven’t thought about that in years. There is no reason to start remembering the past, just because you’re going to see Mom today.

Mom is making her Chicken Cordon Blue. It’s been ages since I’ve had that. She can always get it so tender. I could never quite cook as well as she did. I’m okay with that, though. I like it that I’m good at other things. I’m sure Amy doesn’t compare my cooking to her grandmother’s. She’ll be a good cook, one day. She seems to enjoy it at least. But I hope it’s a few years before she has a family to cook for. She’s been getting really serious with Roger, but I’ve told him not to even think of getting married until she has her Masters. He just smiled and said, “Don’t worry, Mom, I’ll keep the engagement ring in a safe place until then.” If he wasn’t so cute--and so brilliant--I would have slapped him.

Roger is an engineer. I wish Amy would have wanted to be an engineer. But teaching is important, too. It will be tough to study for her Masters and do her first year of teaching, but I know she can handle it. She’s just that smart.

Coffee is getting cold. I’m going to make another cup and finish up a project for work before I get ready to visit the old woman. I’ll be shaking from the caffeine but at least I’ll have energy to get through this day.

Lord help me…

Amy

August 6; 7:30AM

Dear Diary,

I haven’t had any time to write. I’m getting ready to start teaching for the first time. I am so excited! I have a bunch of little second graders and I’m sure I will love them. I can’t believe I am actually going to be a teacher! My dream is coming true.

Of course, Mom has me doing grad school AND teaching. She’s such a slave driver! I don’t know if I can handle this. I had her talked into letting me take a year off and just teach, but she told me that I needed to get my masters before I got married (which is a good plan). If that is the case, I need to get busy. This is going to be a very stressful year. If Roger and I can make it through, I’m sure he and I will get married in the next couple of years.

Ah! What if I can’t wait that long? Dad told me he thought Mom was crazy for wanting me to get my Masters. I understand why she does. But she’ll flip out if I ever told her I wanted to stay home with my kids.

Roger and I have already talked about it. He’s an engineer, so we won’t struggle financially. Especially if we have to wait 2-3 years to get married! By then I’ll be ready to be done with school and teaching. Though, at this point, I can’t imagine ever getting tired of teaching. I haven’t even started yet!

Today Mom and I are going to Grandma’s for lunch. I haven’t seen her all summer. I miss her. I may take some stuff with me and spend the night. Then we can watch the sun set while we sit on the back porch (our tradition) and then we can have cookies and watch old black and white movies. Then I’ll get up and she’ll make me Mickey Mouse pancakes.

I sound like a little kid. Mickey Mouse pancakes? Dear Diary? Oh well, I guess I’ll make a good elementary school teacher!

Love,

Amy

---

Doris

August 7; 6:45AM

Yesterday was a good day. Amy and Debora came for lunch. So did the Snudgrasses and Wilcotts. After the families left, Amy and Debora stayed for a little while.

Then Amy announced that she was spending the night. Debora looked a little hurt. I guess she was waiting around so Amy could stay longer. If she had known Amy was spending the night, she might have left earlier.

To make up for the fact that I was stealing Amy from her, I invited her to stay the evening and watch the sun set on the back porch. It’s Amy and my tradition. But she said no.

It was my turn to be hurt. I don’t know why it hurt the way it did. I guess every time Debora comes over, I’m reminded that I failed somewhere. I tried so hard to be a good mom. I guess I just tried a little too hard. Somewhere in life, I just pushed my own, lovely daughter so far away I feared I wouldn’t get her back.

But she did come back. I accidentally got three coffee mugs out. I decided to leave the third for Jesus, if he decided he wanted to join us. I left the creamer and sugar out, too.

It was sort of a silly accident, but I’m glad I left those things out. Debora came back. For the first time in my life I didn’t ask why. I love that girl. She was my pride and joy. She still is. That’s why when I see her making mistakes, it hurts so badly. I want to take all the pain away. I feel her pain like it were my own. It’s a mother’s lot in life.

Debora didn’t spend the night. I didn’t expect her to. But she did stay for the sunset. Then Amy and I got to watch our movie.

I prayed for Amy after she fell asleep. I did the same thing for Debora when she was young. Last night, I said an extra prayer for Debora. I sensed she might still be awake.

God, thank you for my daughter and my granddaughter.

Debora

August 7; 9:20AM

Why, oh why, can’t I shake this? This feeling of regret, of inadequacy, of never meeting up? I hate going to Mom’s, and this is why. It makes me remember. It makes me realize how I’ll never meet up, never be good enough.

I try so hard with Amy. But I can’t shake the feeling that she loves her grandmother more. They are so much alike. They both like domestic things, like sewing and cooking. I was never like that. I liked exercise and computers. I wanted to do school, have a career. Mom used to tell me that I’d never get married because I was too independent. Those words were always haunting me because I thought there was some truth in them. They haunted me even after I married Keller. I always feared that I settled when I married him. Then, when things got bad, I could almost hear Mom saying, “See, if you hadn’t been so independent, so involved with your career, you might have saved your marriage.”

I’ve never written those thoughts down before. I was afraid if I did than I would realize they were true. I just couldn’t handle that.

There is always a bubble around Mom and Amy. They seem to connect. To get one another. I’ve always been happy that they had at good relationship, but it just wasn’t for me.

Today, after lunch (which lasted about 4 hours, by the way), it was just me, Mom, and Amy left. Amy announced that she was spending the night. Mom looked at me and said, “You can stay, too, Debora. We’d love it if you did. I’ll make some coffee and we’ll all sit on the back porch and watch the sun set.” Mom always drinks too much coffee.

I looked at Amy. I wanted to know if she really wanted me around. She smiled in her friendly way. Then, I had fear take over. I felt like they were just being nice. They didn’t really want me around. How could they? So I shook my head, no. I prepared to leave.

But I did notice that Amy looked sad. So did Mom.

I drove away. I got all the way to the end of the street. Then I decided, what the heck. The sunset was beautiful. Why should I miss it? And they did invite me, after all. So I went back.

I could hear them talking on the front porch. I was overwhelmed with a desire to join in.

The coffee pot still had coffee in it. The creamer and sugar were still out. There was also a clean mug sitting on the counter, waiting for me. Had they known I would come back?

I drink black coffee. Not because I like it better, but because it makes me feel more in control. I also don’t want to eat the cream and sugar. But today, I made an exception. I just wanted to relax, to enjoy myself, my daughter, my Mom, and the sunset.

I was wired last night from the caffeine. I couldn’t fall asleep. I slept in this morning and skipped my workout. I haven’t done that in a long time. Even though I couldn’t sleep last night and missed my workout this morning, it was worth it. That sunset was beautiful.

Amy

August 15; 9:15AM

Dear Diary,

Tomorrow is my first day of school. I’m a little nervous, but I’m excited, too.

Mom had breakfast ready for me when I woke up this morning. She actually cooked. Eggs, bacon, biscuits, fresh fruit, juice, coffee. It was delicious. I asked her if she was going in to work. She said she was taking the day off and would help me get my classroom ready.

She seems different. She’s quieter, but not sad or melancholy or anything. Come to think of it, I think she’s relaxed quite a bit in the past few days.

The other night, when we were at Grandma’s, Grandma invited Mom to stay for coffee and watch the sun set. She said, no. Typical Mom. I felt stupid for thinking, even for a short second, that she might actually stay.

But then she came back. She said no, but low and behold, she came back. It was a little strange, but I didn’t ask why. I was afraid I would scare her away. She actually seemed like she was enjoying herself. I wish she would do stuff like that more often. Gram’s and I always have so much fun and Mom always misses out.

Well, Dear Diary, I won’t be writing much in the next few months. But I’ll see you soon.

Love,

Amy

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