I dug my dinging cell phone out of my pocket and glanced at the number on the screen. Though I didn’t recognize it, fate compelled me to answer, “Hello, this is Lucy.”
“Mama,” came a gasp rising over the wireless horizon, “Where are you?”My legs stiffened. My lungs labored to draw in a fresh breath. A haze descended as I wrestled with how to answer my 12 year-old son’s question. At long last I casually whispered, “At the liquor store. We took your brother to meet up with his friends before the football game and then we came to the…” My voice grew weak again as I accidentally circled back around to having to say, “liquor store.” Whispering it, of course, didn’t change the matter or make me unseen by the Baptists and Methodists shopping the aisles on a Friday night along with me.
Earlier in the day, I huddled by my space heater flipping through one of my favorite cookbooks, Peterson’s Holiday Helper. When I stopped the flapping pages, I had landed right on a drool evoking recipe. Tonight, I decided. I’ll make dinner tonight. But I didn’t have a single one of the three ingredients on hand: Cherry brandy, cherry liqueur, chocolate liqueur.“Where are you,” I exclaimed, both to change the subject and because it at last occurred to me that my child was probably not at home where I thought I had left him.
He told me the sad, sad tale of a boy who looked out of the front window of his house to see his mother and father and another child getting into the car. Immediately he suspected that we were headed to the football game without him, so he ran out the front door and down the walkway desperately pleading for us to stop.When we did not, the lad sprinted down the street, chasing our tail lights into the dark. He ran as fast as he could make his short legs go, like beating a dying race horse. After arriving at our usual parking spot and seeing that neither we nor our car were there, the despondent child borrowed a phone to called me, his mother, the woman he has depended on and put his faith in since birth.
He thought we had mistaken, Mick, the neighbor kid from down the street for him and thus taken Mick to the game instead of our own son.“Honey,” I scolded, once he completed his story, “How could you think that? I haven't even made dinner yet!”