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 5 of 12.
Laci and Del: Mother Doesn’t Always Know Best
“I don’t know, Del.” Laci clutched the pot of tulips against her chest as they walked toward the door of his parents sprawling log ranch. “I mean, she’s your mother. And she never really liked me. Maybe the first time we do a family event together as a couple shouldn’t be Mother’s Day.”
When they reached the porch, he kissed the top of her head. “She never had a problem with you,” he whispered. “I need to see my mom today, and I want to spend time with you. I can’t do both unless you’re here with me.”
“I saw my mother this morning without you.”
“That was your decision, not mine.” He opened the door, took her hand, and dragged her inside. “Mom? We’re here!” He dropped his keys on the table and pulled her forward.
“We?” Nora called.
Laci pulled on his hand and stopped in the hallway. “You didn’t tell her I was coming?”
He shrugged and tugged her toward the kitchen. “Mom. Happy Mother’s Day.” He wrapped her in a big hug and swept her off her feet, swinging her around in a circle.
“Del, put me down this instant!” She batted his arm and tried to sound stern, but the laughter at the end of her admonishment gave away her pleasure. When Del set her down, she straightened her clothes and hair and cleared her throat.
“You remember Laci,” Del said, and started picking at the food spread out on the granite counter.
“Of course I do,” she said, all traces of humor gone from her voice.
“Happy Mother’s Day, Nor—”
Del’s mother frowned.
“Mrs. Keegan.” She held out the tulips. Nora made no move to take them, so Laci placed them on the counter. “I hope you don’t mind Del inviting me to tag along.”
“Mind? Why would I mind you coming to celebrate my special day with my family and me?”
Laci stood there, not knowing what to say or do. Nora continued to stare at her and Del seemed oblivious to the tension, still munching on the food on the trays.
“Delany? When’d you get here?” his father’s voice boomed from the backdoor.
Del walked over and was immediately wrapped in warm embrace. “You remember Laci, right?”
“Laci. It’s been a long time.”
“Hello, Mr. Keegan.”
“Mr. Keegan? It’s Patrick, honey. Why so formal? Come here, girl.” And he wrapped her in the same affectionate hug he’d greeted Del with. “I’ve missed you. How’ve you been?”
All—well, most—of her tension just melted away as she chatted with Patrick. He’d always been so welcoming and friendly. It was just like old times.
“Come on out to the patio. Sean and Aiden are out there. We’ll get you a beer and we can catch up while I grill the chicken.”
“Actually,” Nora said, “maybe Laci could stay in here and help me for a few minutes. You boys go on out. We’ll catch up in a few.”
Laci looked at Del with wide eyes, pleading with him not to leave her alone with his mother.
“Okay. Sure,” Del said. “We’ll be right outside if you need anything.” He squeezed his mom around the shoulders, kissed Laci on the cheek and whispered, “You’ll be fine.” Then he followed his dad outside and joined his brothers.
Her stomach churned. She was left alone with the one person there who hated her.
Nora turned her back to her and started cutting vegetables. Cutting them with a lot of force, the knife hitting the board with a loud whack, whack. “So, you’re back in Del’s life.”
“I am. What do you want me to do?”
“I’ll tell you when I need you. Right now, just keep me company. We can talk.” Whack, whack, whack, whack.
“Oh, okay.” Laci looked out the door. Del was roughhousing with Sean and Aiden, apparently not giving her a second thought.
“Del says you’ve been seeing each other for several months.”
“And how long have you been back in town?” Whack, whack.
So they were going to talk about the break up. Awkward. “For a while.”
“But you didn’t call him.” Whack.
“And you didn’t have the—” whack, whack “—decency to return any of his calls when you disappeared on him.”
“I didn’t disappear on him.”
- She turned around. “Oh no? What would you call it, then? He’s in love with you, he’s talking marriage, spending the rest of his life with you, and the next thing he knows, he can’t even find you. No call. No forwarding address. None of your family or friends will tell him anything. What kind of person does something so heartless?”
“Is that what he told you?” Laci was shocked. Devastated. Appalled. It was bad enough Nora and she didn’t get along before, but for him to have brought her—on Mother’s Day—to his mother’s house? After telling her such a horrible fabrication of what really happened? It was almost too much to take.
“He didn’t have to tell me anything. I saw how crushed he was when he couldn’t reach you. I put the pieces together myself.”
“And what about his part in it?”
“What about his part?”
“You know, Nora?” Laci said. “I know you were never fond of me. I’m not sure why. I never did anything to you, and I always loved your son. I still do. And I appreciate your fierce protection of him. So maybe you’ll forgive me now when I tell you this. Butt out.”
“Excuse me?” Her eyebrows disappeared under her wispy bangs.
“There’s no excuse for this. You’re trying to scare me off, and when I leave here today, you’re going to try to get Del to leave me. You need to know, Del and I want this to work this time. If our relationship ends, should be on our terms, not yours. And if you do have a hand in it, you won’t want to live with the consequences.”
“Are you threatening me?” She crossed her arms.
“No. I’m telling you that you love your son too much to ruin the one thing that makes him happier than anything else in the world. I’m leaving you to your Mother’s Day. I trust one of you can give Del a ride later?”
“And why am I supposed to say you left?”
“That’s up to you.”
Laci snatched Del’s car keys off the table in the foyer, walked out to the car, and headed home. She’d probably done irreparable damage to her ‘relationship’ with Nora. And that would likely come back to bite her sometime soon. But that wasn’t what worried her the most. What really concerned her was how she and Del broke up years ago. What had he really told his family about it? And did it matter?
Did he even perceive their breakup the same way she did? That did matter. It mattered to her a lot.
How did she find out without dredging up painful old memories?