Saturday, May 26, 2018

Mother's Day--"Thank You Ashley Madison" excerpt

Sunday, May 12

     I got no breakfast in bed. Bummed, I popped an apple pancake into the oven, began frying bacon, and woke Blake and Tom. They entered the kitchen with presents: a golf visor from Blake and a box of chocolates from Tom. I made a tee time for nine holes and told Blake I needed him to help me move the teak table out of my car and into the house after I showered. As I was dressing, I heard a sickening clatter in the backyard and ran out the backdoor. My lovely new table was lying on the patio and Blake was holding a broken table leaf.
     “Why the fuck didn’t you wait for me?” I shouted.
     “The stupid table,” Blake started.
     “Don’t blame the table! It was a gorgeous table a minute ago. Why the hell didn’t you wait for me?”
     “I was just trying to help,” Blake stammered. “I didn’t know it had leaves like that.”
     I continued to swear under my breath as we drove to the golf course. I continued to swear under my breath as we played. I was ruining Mother’s Day. Plus it was fifty degrees with winds whipping at thirty miles per hour blasting my ears and giving me a headache. I shivered in my down jacket. I looked at Tom, who’d ignored my advice to wear a warm coat and was shivering in a sweatshirt hoodie. He was crouching low and hugging his knees to his chest in a sunny spot. By the time we finished playing, I was miserable and feeling guilty for being a bitch.

     “Hope you are relaxing on Mother’s Day,” Golf Guy texted.

     “Kids and I froze our butts off playing golf. I hit better, though, thanks to you.”

     “Welcome. My dog and I are freezing our asses off at a lacrosse tournament in Naperville. BTW, Naperville is fucking far.”

     “I feel for you. Sounds miserable.”

     “It’s okay. Charlie is playing well.”

     “Imagine if he wasn’t.”

     Chris sent me a picture of his dog looking miserable.

     “She wants a coat,” I texted.

     “Dinner this week?”



     “I can do it Thursday. You?”

     “That will probably work. I am coaching baseball and won’t know till tomorrow what time the game is.”

     “I can do tomorrow or Thursday. Just let me know.”


     “Happy Mom’s Day, Brenda! Love, your friend, Nicole.”

     I stared at Nicole's text. Nicole had many children but custody of none. I'd lost count after ten. Most were in foster homes.

     “Happy Mother’s Day Sweetie,” I texted, feeling weird about it.

     “Do you know what happened one year ago?” Nichole texted. Then the phone rang. I didn’t pick it up. I let Nicole go to voicemail. 

     “Hi Brenda, this is Nichole,” Nicole slurred in her fake southern drawl. “What I wanted to tell you (long pause) is that I got raped (long pause). I woke up in Louisiana (long pause). I went on a bit of a journey (long pause). The cop gave me some money to get a room with this person who was on a bicycle (long pause). Well anyhow that didn’t turn out too good (long pause). I beat my way out of that room (long pause). I ran down a half mile (long pause) and made a phone call (long pause). I had the police come there. This person was on, and this is true, he was a serial killer (long pause). I had him caught. (Nicole started crying.) And Scarla Lewis is the junkie down the road (sobbing) who bought me a ticket back to Illinois. And that’s why the name Scarla Lewis means so much to me. I told him maybe when I got back I’d try to give him his money back and he said (Nicole’s voice faded so I could barely hear it), ‘No, it’s all right.’ Give me a call when you can and I’ll tell you the whole story (long pause). You have no idea all the kind of hell I’m in (sobbing). And that’s just one of them. That’s just one. Call me back (long pause). I love you (long pause). I hope you have a good happy mother’s day (her voice faded to a whisper). You deserve it (long pause). Bye-bye sweetie.”

     I sat on my bed and cried. During our forty-three-year friendship, Nicole has manipulated me with horrific stories I never know whether to believe or not. She’s a compulsive liar. I’ve tried to get Nicole into rehab, halfway houses, therapy, but she never goes. She prefers bouncing from man to man. I’ve got nothing. 

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