“Where you been?”
“Momma,” I said before closing the front door.
“Well?” the woman said, spilling over the edges of her recliner.
“Come on. I’m not seven.”
I took my shoes off and placed them by the door. I shuffled through six or seven envelopes in my hand. The room was dark, despite it being early afternoon. The shades pulled tight to seal out the light. Conversations from a soap opera filled the apartment. She sat in the corner of the hibernation cave.
“You don’t gotta know where I am all the time. I’m an adult.”
“Sit down,” she said. Her finger pointing toward the couch. I sat in the middle, refusing to get comfortable, to display my defiance. She continued, “You still live here don’t you?”
“Then I got a right to know. Don’t care if you’re twenty years old. You livin’ here, you live by the rules. Now where you been?”
“Getting the mail, momma. Come on.”
“Let me see it.”
“What?” she rocked forward in the faded blue recliner.
“I’m looking for something.”
“For what? Better not be a letter from no boy.”
“Nobody sends letters anymore, momma.”
“Something, okay? From California.”
“This ain’t about those stories in your head again, is it?”
“What did I tell you about that.” The shotgun sound of my momma pushing the leg rest lever forward caused me to drop the envelopes. “I said we’re going to see a doctor if you keep hearing those voices and having those stories up there.”
“It’s just stories. Fiction. Like you see on T.V. or the movies.”
“Don’t start with that. I don’t want you going crazy with those voices up there. People going crazy all the time livin’ in fantasy lands in their own head. Not livin’ in the real world.”
“Momma, I sent it out to see if anyone liked it. That's all. If anyone would want to buy it.” Momma’s raised voice shook the envelopes from my trembling hands.
“No ma’am. This stops now. No more of those crazy thoughts and fake voices in your head. They ain’t real. Do you get that? You’re making them up. No use in livin’ in made up worlds. Hard enough to live in the real one.”
“But, momma.” I held up one letter from the fallen stack.
“No, no, no. Leave it alone, child. There’s no place for those thoughts. Put that energy into thinking about your future. Your life. You can’t live here forever.”
“Where did I go wrong? Too many cartoons as a kid? Too many books?”
“Why are you yelling, child?”
“Look. It’s a letter. From California. I opened it while you were talking. They want to buy my story.”
The ferocious grizzly turned teddy as she stood and walked toward the phone. Her voice like we were meeting for the first time. “What’re you waiting for? Let’s call them up.”
return to fcshultz.com home