Reedsy Prompts Contest #43: Kidding Around
Prompt: Write a story about the relationship between a parent and a child that spans several years. (General)
Ignorance and Realization
Sandra pulled into the driveway of her mother’s old beaten up rancher. She hasn’t seen her mother in about eight months. Always too busy to call or stop by. Sandra worked in the city only fifty miles from her old neighborhood. She wanted to get further but could never shake off the need to be in driving distance of her mother. When she turned eighteen and graduated from high school she zoomed off to the first college that accepted her, wanting to leave everything behind for good.
Over her semesters at school she realized that she didn’t want to be rid of her past life but she needed a space, boundaries and her own time. After college she moved to the city where she knew that if she wanted to visit her old home or her mom could come to the city, within the hour. When her mom got sick her mother ended up getting sick she was no longer able to travel the distance. Between the chemotherapy and the pain, the only way her mother would see her is if she went to her.
Sandra shut down over the next few months. She would still call her mother to check up on her. Though, when asked about her next return home, she would freeze up and quickly say bye and hang up. She couldn’t bear going back there and seeing her mother like that. The memory of her hometown, already tainted with the scars of her past, couldn’t handle the good memories her mom gave her to be ruined by cancer. So she thought I will call but not go, at least that is doing something to show I care.
Her decisions weren’t always the best for her or her loved ones. She made them all the same and continued to live her life that way. Always living in the moment and not making a solid plan for the future. Sandra lived the life of a young party girl in her early twenties. After her mom’s cancer was defeated, Sandra cut most ties with her mother. She started working from bar to bar and always drank at them afterwards. Letting her long blonde hair bounce to the beat of a DJ’s mix flowing through giant speakers, as she danced the nights away. Waking up the next day, all fuzzy but headed to work to start the cycle all over again. Only communicating with someone from home if she had to.
Over the next few years, Sandra composed herself. She became more focused on her future and where her present was leading her. She opened up communications with her mother again. She focused her time on her new job and spending nights on the phone trying to rekindle the relationship they once had. It was a slow process, probably more slow for her mother than her, but she continued to try her hardest to be better. She didn’t know where they were headed but they were going to get there.
Now, as Sandra sits while her car idles, she wonders if she is making the right choice. Earlier in the day she had a heartfelt moment of a need to see her mother. After work she drove around pondering on the thought. Finally getting up the courage, she headed straight for her childhood home. Snapping out of her stress filled trance, she turned off the engine and stepped out of the car. Walking up to the door her palms became clammy and she wiped and placed them in her back jean pockets.
“What am I doing? Okay it’s cool, she is your mother. She will be happy to see you. What if she is too excited and becomes overwhelming? I don’t know if I could handle that right now.” Sandy was questioning everything, every decision she ever made, she tore her memories and thoughts apart. Right up to the point of pressing an eliminated button with the tip of her finger. Only once.
Her mom always loved visitors, she was always ready for someone to pop through the door. It was strange she was taking this long to answer the door. Sandra was about to knock when she heard the lock clicking free. The door opened to a young faced woman, probably in her late twenties, only a few years younger than Sandra herself.
“Hello, can we help you?”
“Hi, uh, yes I am..”
“Sandra?” A rattled voice came from within.
“Mom? Yeah it’s me,” she turned to the lady at the door, “I’m Sandra, her daughter.” Sandra used her finger again to point at her mother.
“Oh yes, please come in, my name is Katy and I am looking over your mother. I am sorry we weren’t expecting you.” Katy gestured for Sandra to step through the threshold. After closing the door she led her to the back part of the house. It felt weird to Sandra, being back here but more so the fact she was being ushered around her childhood home, like a stranger. I guess to these walls, she has become just that, a stranger.
Katy stopped right outside of my mother’s room. “She is right in there. I’ll bring around some tea and something to eat, you look hungry.”
“Thank you,” I said as I nudged the ajared door wide open. She lay there in her bed. The many blankets pulled up and pillows towering behind her. It looked like a throne. With excitement, she looked at her mother and took her all in. Her happiness and nerves saddening turned to fear and confusion. In the middle of the pillow and blanket fortress, sat her mother. Pale and all skin and bone. Tubes were hooked up from every angle. Only now did she hear the steady beeps from the machines.
Sandra dropped her purse on a chair and ran over to the bed. “Mom? I don’t understand what’s happened? What’s wrong?” The words just kept pouring from her mouth; the questions had no time for answers in between. She stared into her mother’s sunken and swollen eyes. A hint of tears in the corners, unable to find the momentum to fall.
“The cancer came back. It is aggressive but we are fighting it.” She said somberly, without looking Sandra in the eye.
“Why didn’t you tell me? I could’ve been here to help you.” Anger and frustration shot through her voice, as the tears began to fall.
“I didn’t want to worry you yet. The doctor thinks it can still be curable with a new set of drugs and chemo. With his help, I hired Katy to help with all my needs. I was going to call if things got too serious.”
“I could’ve been helping out too. I could be going with you to doctors visits and chemo sessions. I still don’t understand why you didn’t call me.”
“I have been trying to understand that too, why YOU didn’t call me anymore. You completely shut me out of your life. No calls, no visits, nothing. I started to feel like just a bother to you and that is exactly why I didn’t call you. I didn’t want to bother you anymore.”
Sandra stood there, trying to piece together everything she just said with her own recollection of the past few months. She remembered the edge to call her mom and then would say I’ll do it later. This was repeated until this day when she gutted up and followed her heart. Trying to figure out just why she did it, she couldn’t.
“I’m sorry mom,” the tears flowing rapidly now, “I didn’t mean to make you feel that way. You are not a bother to me and you never will be. I can’t justify my actions because I have no real answer and there is no excuse.” She made her way back to the bed and sat down. “I never meant to hurt you to the point you would think I wouldn’t want to help and be there for you. Especially going through something like this. I am just sorry I wasn’t there for you.”
“You are my daughter, Sandra and I will always love you. I am sorry I didn’t tell you as well.” She took her daughter’s hand and squeezed, “Are you going to be here now? Will you stick around even after I kill this cancer?”
“Of course, I will work something out with work. Is my room still available? I can come down and stay over a few nights. We can give Katy some much needed rest as well.”
“It is and I am sure Katy would enjoy that. She has been working so hard to make sure I am comfortable.”
“Well it’s settled then. I’ll go home and settle everything up with work tomorrow.” She went in for a huge and the two sat there, holding on to each other. They cried while they embraced and when they let go they looked at each other and both slightly giggled.
“I’m hungry, are you hungry mom?”
“I could always eat,” her mom said with a huge smile.
Sandra stood up and went looking for Katy. After going over food precautions, Katy went to go pick up their food order. Sandra returned to her mother’s room and helped her get up and into the living room.
The rest of the night, the three of them ate, laughed, and bonded. Creating a force that would eventually help kick the cancer away, again. Sandra continued to rebuild her relationship with her mother and start a new outlook on life. Never again would she let her own selfishness take away from the experiences with her loved ones.
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