(Excerpt from The Lemonade Year, finished novel seeking representation/ fiction)
Mom is calling me after midnight. This isn’t good. I pour a glass of wine and answer the phone.
“I’m that woman again, Nina,” Mom says after perfunctory small talk, none of which address the time of night this call is occurring. “You know what I mean?”
“Not really,” I say and take my glass of false security out onto the balcony.
“Back then,” Mom continues. “I was the only one of my friends to have kids. Everyone else was pursuing their career and I was home changing diapers.”
“What does that have to do with anything?” I ask.
I know I sound like an ass. But the attitude is mostly just a cover-up. I let high hopes fill a nursery, but had no baby to put in it. Hearing people talk about the trials of motherhood is just salt in the wound. Mom keeps sprinkling it in.
“I’d see the women in their fancy business suits and smart high-heel shoes buying exotic foods at the grocery,” Mom continues, oblivious to me. “They’d be carrying around that little basket that says I don’t need to know what I’m eating next Tuesday because that’s Jennifer’s birthday and we’re all going downtown to celebrate.”
She says that last part in a fake female voice and I almost laugh at the ridiculousness of a woman faking a woman’s voice.
“I used to be one of them and they knew it,” Mom says recalling a time before I can remember. “But I became a woman with a child, with spit up on her shoulder, with a grocery cart piled for two weeks, because, let’s face it, who knew when I’d get it together enough to go out into the world again to shop for the necessities of life, never mind going downtown to celebrate with whomever Jennifer may be.”
I picture Mom in her kitchen, she’s animated. Waving her arms as much as the constraints of holding the phone will allow.
“Is it so wrong?” Mom asks. “That when the three of you were finally asleep for the night, I’d make myself a drink. Maybe a Cosmo, or a martini, a margarita—and pretend that I had something to celebrate too?”
It’s then that I hear the tinkle of ice in a glass from the other side of the phone line.
“Mom,” I say, but am unable to follow it up.
I can’t ask her to be careful. I can’t preach to her about self-medication with alcohol. I know she knows that she shouldn’t open that door again, but Dad is dead. Thursday is the funeral. I take another sip too.
“Who knows,” Mom says and I feel the end of the conversation coming. “Maybe in this day and age, I wouldn’t have felt so out of touch. People have their texting and tweeting—whatever that is—their Spacebook to let the whole world know that they just did a thousand sit-ups, or that their cat just ate a crayon, or that little Emily has a fever of a hundred and one.”
“Facebook,” I say.
“What?” she says but keeps talking.
I hear her voice but my attention wanders. She might be right. Maybe if she had some connection to the multitude of people she once knew and all the people they once knew then perhaps she could have posted on her wall My youngest child, Lola, was just in a horrible car accident and if she lives, she may never walk again. And btw, she has some kind of brain damage that the doctor called the “Swiss Cheese Effect” and I could just punch him in the face WTF.
And people could reply OMG, Cecilia, how awful.
Hang in there.
We love you.
Or perhaps people could “like” her statement, thus validating her outrage and letting her know that they had at least taken the time out of their beautiful life to read her message to the cosmos and click on the little thumb before hoping to a link of a YouTube video of man peeling potatoes and singing the Star Spangled Banner.