Three-Minute Fiction: “The Queen of Gone”
“Carol, where are you?”
Cringing, I held the cell phone away from my ear. My mother-in-law, Maureen, spoke so loudly that I risked hearing loss with every phone call.
“At the grocery store. Why?”
“I’m at the train station, waiting for you to pick me up,” she said impatiently. ““Didn’t you read the e-mail I sent you two days ago?”
Actually, I hadn’t. My life had been rather stressful lately and I just hadn’t felt up to her rambling, ranting e-mails, Facebook entries, Twitterings, and multiple blogs, most of which were complaints about friends, former friends, acquaintances, relatives, on-line shopping websites, and assorted celebrities. The latter were a favorite target for Maureen’s vitriol. She especially disliked the Kardasian clan because they made a lot of money just for being themselves, and because they had too many ‘K’s” in their names. Really.
“Sorry, I must have missed it,” I apologized. “I’ve been sort of busy, what with driving the kids everywhere, teaching an evening speech class at the community college, and trying to finish writing three articles. What did your e-mail say?”
“That I’m visiting for a week and you were to come get me at the station this afternoon at two o’clock.” She added, her voice rising – I was sure it could be heard by anyone within a ten-pace radius of my cell phone - “And it’s now 2:20!”
Maureen expected everyone in her sphere of influence to jump when she said ‘Jump’. She lived in sort of fantasy land of her own creation, a land in which she was the queen and the rest of us were her subjects. Unfortunately, she was never happy with the way her subjects served her, especially me. I never jumped high enough.
Maneuvering the shopping cart into a check-out lane, I repressed a sigh. “Okay, Maureen. I’ll be there in about half-an-hour.”
I swear, she actually said that. Is ‘humph’ even a word?
As I hurried to my car, I thought about a one-week visit from my mother-in-law. A whole week! I shuddered, envisioning her haughty stare and the way she tossed her bobbed hair – which would be dyed anywhere from flamingo pink tomidnightblack – with disdain. Maureen was good at disdain. I knew my husband Mark wouldn’t be thrilled about her unexpected visit, either. He loved his mother but he had a hard time being around her for more than a few hours at a time.
“Yeah, but Mark won’t be the one who’ll be with her all day, will he?” I muttered grimly as I closed the trunk. “And since Maureen thinks my writing and teaching aren’t actually work, she’ll be constantly interrupting me. I won’t get anything done!”
And then the solution hit me; and the more I thought about it, the better it sounded. I called my friend Linda, a fellow teacher, and by the end of our conversation she’d agreed to teach my night class for the next few days. Next I phoned Mark. It didn’t require more than a few desperate sentences from me before he agreed to take some vacation time so he could hang out with Maureen and chauffeur the kids around.
Now all I had to do now was pick up Maureen and her assortment of expensive suitcases – and one particularly nasty little Chihuahua - and deposit all and sundry at my house. And then I’d pack a few essentials and my trusty laptop, hop back into the car and drive two hours to our funky family cabin in the mountains.
There, for seven blissful days, I would be the queen of all I surveyed!