April 28, 2009

Couching the Idea

“Hel-lo honey? Are you with me?”

Mom waves her hand in front of my blank stare, snapping me out of my silent perseveration. I smile. “Sorry. I’m here.”

“It’s OK.” Mom picks up the remote and clicks off the TV. “I was just saying that I really miss Gretchen and Andrew. It was so much fun seeing them.” She curls her feet up underneath her on the couch. “We need to do that again soon.”

I snuggle down against the arm of couch, facing Mom, my arms wrapped around my knees. “I know. It’s too bad we don’t live closer to them.”

Instantly, like she was shot through with a bolt of electricity, Mom sits upright. “Really?”

I frown. “Huh?”

“You wish we lived closer to them?” Mom’s voice is rushed with excitement.

I peer at her sideways, cautiously. “Or that they lived closer to us....” The look in her eyes makes me nervous. “Moooom....” I warn. “What are you...?”

Mom readjusts herself on the couch, crossing her legs. “Well, I was just thinking,” she starts, casting her eyes to the ceiling as if this new thought is just entering her mind. “I mean, wouldn’t it be nice to make a change? To start somewhere new, with our family around us?”

My jaw drops. “Mom. You cannot be serious.”

Mom keeps up her lighthearted tone. “I mean, it is the perfect time to do it, if we ever were to do it. We still have a month before school starts, and my job – jobs – aren’t anything to stick around for, and---”

“Mom. Stop!” I grab her hand. “Are you really saying you want to move?

“Oh, I don’t know.” Mom pulls her hand from mine and waves it dismissively. “I’m just saying, wouldn’t it be nice?”

“No! No, it would not be nice!” I push myself up to sitting, slamming my hands into the couch cushions. “Move?! To Connecticut?! Have you completely lost your mind?

Mom looks at me defiantly. “Well, why not? What’s holding us back?”

“Um, everything!” I cry. “Friends, school, work. Everything.

“We could make new friends. I could get a new job. There’s actually an opening for a librarian in a town not too far from Gretchen. Some place called South Haven. It seems really cute, with little shops along the main street and a big town green with a gazebo and--”

“Stop stop stop! I don’t even want to know how you know that.” I stare at her until she meets my gaze. “Mom. For real. You’re talking crazy!

Mom looks as if she's about to say more, then lets out a giant sigh. “OK. I know. It’s crazy. I’m not really serious.” She looks down at her hands in her lap. “I just started thinking about it, and then I looked up a few things online, and it got me a little excited.” Mom smiles wistfully. “It was just a kooky idea.”

I stare at my mom’s face, where the glimmer of excitement that lingers is mixed with obvious disappointment. I feel like I should say something – give her hope by telling her the idea isn’t totally crazy – but instead, I just shrug. “Totally kooky.”

Mom presses her lips together and picks up the remote. “Yep. You’re right.” She places it in my lap. “Here you go.” I watch her walk out of the room.

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