Fiction #1

“Shot through the heart/and you’re to blame/You give love/A bad name!”

Tori sighed loudly as she rushed to her phone. Her employees, all assuming it was her ex calling, suppressed smirks.  Tori was well aware of what they thought and was willing to keep it that way.  She was afraid to admit that she was so technology challenged that she didn’t know how to change her own ring tone, or that her oldest daughter, Thea, had set it to warn her that Tina, her youngest was calling.

“Mo-om!”  You have got to go pick up Jonathan!” Tina wailed.

Tori sighed again, loudly. “Tina, I’m working.  You, on the other hand, are a STAY.AT.HOME.MOTHER.  Please tell me why you can’t pick up your own child from school.”

“Moth-er. I am very busy right now because the Ladies Guild (Tori rolled her eyes at this) is organizing the auction to benefit The Young Artists’ Camp. Since I am the lead on this, I have to be here to make sure everything happens correctly.” Tori suppressed another sigh at Tina’s self-importance and snotty attitude.

“It doesn’t change my working, Tina.  I will not pick up Jonathan.  He’s your child, so he’s your responsibility.”  Tori avoided suggesting, as she had in the past, other people who could pick up Tina’s children or giving in “just this once.” That hadn’t worked well.

“Mommy (it was funny how her title changed depending on Tina’s needs), there’s no one else to do it.  Thea is busy working.  Toni just laughed.  And Tabitha, well…”

Tori perked up.  Tabitha (her mother had LOVED “Bewitched” hence the same) had been Tina’s best friend for forever and a day.  In high school Tori referred to them as TNT.  Together they were dynamite and really made things happen.  Through thick and thin, as well as Tina’s multiple marriages (starter marriages and marrying up, Tina called them), they had always managed to stay friends.  This was, new.

“What about Tabitha?  Is she sick?”

“Well, she’s not talking to me.” Tori’s eyebrows raised, and she drew in a sharp breath.  This, she thought to herself, cannot be good.

“WHY?” Toni used the tone she generally reserved for misbehaving toddlers.  “Why would Tabitha stop talking to you?”

“Oh, Mother.  It’s complicated.”

Tori’s head started to pound.  It was days like this that she wished, desperately, that she was still just a preschool teacher.  As a teacher, she was insulated from phone calls as they interfered directly in the care of the students.  As a director, she was more, accessible is the word used these days.

She sighed for what seemed like the twentieth time since Tina called.  “Give me the short version.  I’m busy.”

“You’re not on Facebook very much are you?” Tina asked. Tori just sighed loudly AGAIN, a sign to move on.

“It’s like this, I missed Tabitha’s art showing.”

“You WHAT? Please tell me that you DID.NOT.MISS.THE.MOST.IMPORTANT.DAY.OF.TABITHA’S. CAREER!”

“I was busy! We were hosting an adult prom at the church — you know how big those are these days — and I just couldn’t NOT go.”

Tori didn’t even bother to disguise her disgust and anger, or her impatience at this point.  In part because Tina’s inconsideration for other people had finally gone too far, but also because to throw a friend aside for church events (silly church events — a prom at her age?) was unforgivable.  Tori never hid her utter distaste for all things religious, having been excommunicated from her Amish household as a teenager.

“Does this mean that you and Scott reconciled?” Tori asked delicately.  Perhaps this was the reason prom came before supporting her best friend’s biggest art showing.

“Oh, no.  Scott would never attend a prom.  Plus, he’s not talking to me, either.  It’s why I called you.  Since both Scott and Tabitha aren’t talking to me and won’t pick up the kids, I need you to pick up the slack.  I can’t do this on my own.  I need help.”

At that, Tori hung up, turned off her phone, and went to relieve Johanna for lunch.  An hour with two-year-olds would make her feel better and give her time to think.

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