It’s the first Friday of the month. Time for another installment of short fiction. You can, at any time, find this work or any of the First Friday Fiction Features (#FFFF), by going to the My Work tab, clicking on Freebies, and selecting the story you wish to read.
Remember that 2014 is the year I’m trying serial work. This is part 6 of 12.
Laci and Del: Hide and Go Hear
Laci had been distant with Del since she’d spent Mother’s Day with his family. Well, she could hardly call it spending the holiday with them. She’d stormed out, taking Del’s car and leaving him to find his own way home, well before dinner was even served.
She never told him why.
He assumed it was the usual girlfriend-and-mother-don’t-get-along stuff. Cliché, but not too far from the mark. She and Nora hadn’t been the best of friends the first time she and Del had dated. But that wasn’t why she’d cut and run.
What set her off was learning Del had told his family that when their relationship had imploded the first time, it was her fault. More to the point, that she had left him without reason or way to contact her.
Like Nora had said, what kind of person would do something so heartless?
A total bitch would. Which was why Nora wasn’t happy they were back together.
The only problem was, that wasn’t at all how they broke up.
And, not one for confrontation, she’d shied away from talking to Del about what really happened with his mother. In fact, she couldn’t believe she’d told his mother to butt out of their relationship. If she remembered right, she might have even threatened her. Where did that bout of courage come from? God, she’d never be able to face Nora again. Not that she wanted to, anyway.
But Del had noticed that she was different now, more withdrawn. And he kept pushing for an answer as to why. Laci was surprised he hadn’t gone to Mommy Dearest for an explanation. Or maybe he’d been shot down there, too. So he continued to bide his time. Which was a precious commodity to her, one she feared she was rapidly running out of.
What she needed was some sage advice. What she needed was a talk with her parents.
Too bad Del insisted on going with her to celebrate Father’s Day with her family.
She got out of the car before he even turned off the engine and stalked up the walk in front of him,
“Laci!” Her mother met them on the front porch and embraced her. “Del,” she said, a little more reserved.
“Alice. It’s nice to see you again.” Del handed her a bouquet of purple calla lilies.
Humph. She hadn’t even realized he’d brought flowers with him. And they were her mother’s favorites, of course. Suck up. She saw her mother’s eyes soften when she took the blooms and knew the gesture worked. Damn it.
“It’s been too long, Del.” Alice held the flowers out to her side and wrapped him in a famous and coveted Alice Marks hug.
Laci wanted to scream. Instead, she asked, “Where’s Dad?”
“Where do you think? At the grill.”
Laci opened the door. “I’ll just go on back and say hello. Give him his card.”
“You go on ahead,” her mom said, linking her arm through Del’s. “I’d like to sit here with Del a bit.”
Laci bit her lip. She didn’t know what her mom was about to do, but given how quickly the thaw had melted, she didn’t think it was going to go in her favor. “Oh, um, okay.” Letting the door bang behind her, she made sure her sandals clomped on the hardwood as she made her way to the kitchen. Then she slipped them off her feet and hurried back to the foyer, crouching by the screen door to eavesdrop.
“So, Del. Can I get you anything? Iced tea? Lemonade? A beer?”
Laci panicked. If her mom turned toward the door, she had nowhere to hide in time. Even if she managed to dash down the hall, she’d surely notice her shoes lying in the middle of the hall.
“No, thanks. I’m fine.”
Relief washed over Laci, warm and slow, like syrup over pancakes, and thinking that way made her stomach growl. Smoke from the barbecue was drifting through the house, making her mouth water. She hadn’t realized how hungry she was until her attention was on food. After making sure her grumbling belly hadn’t given her away, she forced herself to pay attention to the conversation outside. Not that it was much of a hardship. That’s why she was stooping in the foyer to begin with.
“I’m sure you’re wondering why I’ve cornered you out here.”
“Who could feel cornered spending time with you? I thought we were just enjoying the porch swing and the summer breeze.”
Her mom giggled. She actually giggled. Laci rested her head on the door. She didn’t think she could take much more of that.
“It’s no wonder Annalace took you back. You’re such a charmer.”
The creaking of the swing chains stopped. “Took me back?”
“Well, after you left her, it was a big step for her to decide to try again. That’s what I wanted to talk to you about.”
“I’m sorry,” Del said. “After I left her? That’s what she told you?”
“Was it supposed to be a secret?” Alice asked. “You could hardly expect her not to talk to us about it. You were planning your lives together, and then you weren’t. We wanted to know why.”
“And what, exactly, did she tell you?”
Powerful footfalls crossing the porch alerted Laci that one of them had begun pacing, and by the sound of the stride, she knew it wasn’t her mother. She scooted away from the door and plastered herself against the wall, hoping he didn’t peer too carefully inside.
“She said you were offered a job across the country and wanted her to join you. She didn’t want to go. Different options were discussed, and in the end, when she went to your apartment to tell you what she had decided, she saw you getting in a cab with your luggage. How could you do that to her, Del? How could you leave and not wait for her answer? Not even say goodbye? And how does she know you aren’t going to do the same thing again?”
This was far better than getting advice from her parents. She was going to get all the information she was looking for straight from the source, and she didn’t even have to have the dreaded “talk.”
But what if she didn’t like the answer?