The Mother Store

200292204-001“I hate you!” she said.  “I wish you weren’t my mother.”

And with that her mother crossed the kitchen and picked up the phone.  She dialed the numbers calmly and with purpose, and Katie wondered who she was calling.

“Hello?  Is this the Mother Store?”

Katie observed her mother’s matter-of-fact demeanor with confusion; her eyes fixated on her mother’s face, searching for any sign that her words had hit their mark and stung.  But those hurtful words hurled in anger and frustration just moments ago seemed to have rolled right off into oblivion.  Katie listened intently while her mother continued with the call.

“Yes, we need a new mother here.  It’s 1215 Hilltop Lane.  Yes, that’s right.  Thank you.”  And with that, she hung up the phone.

“There.  Your new mother will be here in the morning.  I’ll finish making our dinner and then go upstairs to pack.  Will you set the table please?”

Nooooooo!  This was not what was supposed to happen.  Katie’s mother was supposed to be sad and say she was sorry for making Katie so angry.   She was supposed to say that Katie could go outside and play and didn’t have to do her homework.  Katie was supposed to win.  She knew it was a long shot; that this was not the response she was likely to get, but she certainly didn’t expect a call to the Mother Store.  She didn’t even know there was such a thing.  Her mind reeled at the thought of it.  A new mother?  A stranger coming to take care of her?  And her real mother was going away.  Where?  For how long?  Oh my gosh…forever?  It couldn’t be forever, could it?

Katie set the table quietly, hoping that her obedience and lack of resistance would make her mother reconsider.  But her mother simply stirred the pot on the stove, checked the rolls in the oven, and poured milk into the dinner glasses.

“I’m sorry, Mom.  I didn’t mean it.”  Katie pleaded desperately.

“I’m sorry too,” said her mother.  “Sorry that you’re not happy with the way I’ve chosen to raise you.  Perhaps your new mother will be more to your liking.  If it turns out that she thinks it’s important for you to do your homework too, I’ve left the number for the Mother Store on refrigerator and you can call for another yourself.  With such short notice, I didn’t have time to check this one out for you first.”

Katie was completely gobsmacked.  She’d never seen this side of her mother before and she simply had no idea what to make of it.

They ate in relative silence, which confused Katie’s father who had no idea what had recently transpired in the kitchen.  But the stew was tasty, the warm rolls delicious and buttery, and he soon forgot the oddness of it and simply enjoyed his meal.  Katie, on the other hand, could not enjoy her meal.  She watched her mother sipping the broth of the stew and wondered how she could seem so unaffected by the events of only a short half hour ago.  Katie’s emotions moved from hurt to anger and settled firmly in fear.  Then she remembered what her mother said about the phone number left on the refrigerator and Katie had an idea.  She would call that awful Mother Store and cancel.  She would tell them it was all a mistake and not to send a replacement.  Yes!  That’s what she would do.  Katie waited for her mother and father to finish eating and then helped her mother with the dishes…something she had never done before.

“Thank you, dear.” her mother said.  And when the last of the dishes were put away, she wiped the counter clean and headed upstairs to pack.  Quickly, Katie moved for the phone.  She grabbed it, then the slip of paper from the front of the refrigerator, and took them both to the downstairs bathroom.  Closing the door, she sat down in the tub and pulled the shower curtain around her for good measure.  This was serious business and she didn’t want to risk being interrupted or found out.  Carefully, she dialed the number.  It rang.  A woman’s voice began talking on the other end of the line.  Wait.  She hadn’t even said hello…just began talking.

“…with highs in the mid to low 50’s.  Mostly sunny tomorrow, with a slight chance for an afternoon thundershower…”

Was that the weather report?  “Hello?  Hello?”

“…Clear skies expected for the weekend with temperatures in the low 60’s…”

© Kelly Rainey and, 2015.  

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