Special preview

Labor Day Special

In honor of the holiday weekend, I’m DELIVERING a special free preview of a chapter from REMEMBER. The theme of the scene gives a whole new meaning to Labor Day! Hope you enjoy the weekend and the following passage:

SUMMER AFTER JUNIOR YEAR

“Is everything all right?” I asked. Mom didn’t usually shake so much while pouring iced tea.
   “Yeah, I’m fine,” she said with a sigh. She was looking me right in the eye like she was willing me to read her mind.
   “Where’s Joe? Isn’t there some sporting event that he should be watching?”
   “He’s out shopping,” Mom said with a shy smile.
   “Shopping! When does Joe ever go shopping?”
   “He’s got a few new projects he’s working on that will probably keep him real busy for the next few months.” Mom’s smile twisted and turned with pent-up excitement, and I tried to remember what special occasions were coming up that would cause Joe to shop and Mom to act coy.
   “Something I should know about?”
   Mom looked away and her smile turned to more of a pout. This was her I-know-something-you-don’t-know look that she usually gave me when she tried to catch me in a lie, but this time I was not the one withholding information.
   Mom was still standing next to the kitchen table. Nothing left to do but sit and enjoy some afternoon tea, but she looked conflicted. Still without looking up, she moved to the kitchen counter and opened the top drawer where she kept her important mail. She took out an index-sized card and looked at it intently. When she handed me the card, I saw the image, but I wasn’t sure what to make of it at first. Sure, I’d seen sonogram pictures before, but why did Mom have one?
   Looking back up at Mom, our eyes locked and she nodded, an unsure smile on her face. No way. This couldn’t be. Was she really? I looked back at the image and noticed the text at the top. There was her name and it was dated just a few days ago.
   “Mom?” I didn’t know what else to say. This shouldn’t have been a total shock. After all, she had recently gotten remarried and she wasn’t too old to have more kids, but it still felt strange.
   “It’s only been a few months now,” she said, still looking unsure.
   A few months! She had known she was pregnant for months and hadn’t said anything? Wow, I didn’t know she was capable of holding something like that in! I couldn’t tell if this new tingling sensation that took over my body was good or bad, but I showed Mom my best congratulatory smile, leapt out of my seat, and wrapped my arms around her.
   “I don’t know if I’m ready for this, Nev,” Mom said, and I saw that familiar look of worry in her eyes. “I knew it was a possibility when Joe and I became serious, but now that it’s a reality… I mean, after seventeen years I’m a little out of practice.”
   “This is crazy talk, Mom,” I said. “You practically raised me by yourself, and see how well I turned out!”
   Mom answered with a weary smile.
   “Besides, you have Joe now, and he’ll no doubt be more help than Dad was. Don’t forget about me either!”
   A baby. For some reason, I automatically assumed it was a girl. Even though Joe probably wouldn’t agree, I would refer to the new baby as she or her in every conversation. I couldn’t stop the rush of ideas for her name, nursery, and cute girly outfits from flooding my mind. I instantly felt I was going to be a part of my sister’s life forever, no matter what happened. Never would she feel the same confusion and desertion that I sometimes felt growing up.
   “I can’t wait to tell her all about my crazy work experiences.”
   “Don’t go into too much detail,” Mom said. “I would like her to have a steady job one day.”
   “I’ll only tell her the scandalous parts. Speaking of which, does Malory still work for you?”
   Mom shot me a look of disapproval. She would never say a bad word about anybody, but her face could never hide her true feelings either.
   Even though there was a chance her assistant Malory had some redeeming qualities, I never saw any while we worked together at Mom’s office.
   “Okay, so we’ll just talk about boys,” I said.
   “Isn’t that my job?”
   “Mom, a lot has changed in seventeen years. Besides, I’ve never had any other siblings to gang up on you with. This may be my last chance!”
   “Great, she’s not even born yet, and already you two are conspiring against me.” Mom said as she gently touched her belly.
   “You could have made it easier on yourself and just had another baby when I was younger. Then you may not be getting so much grief now.”
   “Well it’s a little hard when you only see your husband a few times a month.” Mom’s voice cracked a little and some of her excitement faded.
   Even though this conversation started in jest, it was the first time I noticed an emotional reaction from Mom on the subject. Maybe the reaction I sensed was due to the pregnancy hormones, but I still felt a twinge of guilt for occupying so much of Dad’s time on those Tuesday family nights, not thinking that this was the only time Mom had with him too.
   “I’m sorry,” I said even though it was too little, too late.
   “Don’t you worry your pretty little head about any of that.”
   “Well this time will be different,” I promised. “I’m going to teach that baby everything I know. I can babysit anytime you want so that you and Joe can have the quality time you missed with Dad.”
   “Honey, you’re almost eighteen. You need to have a life too.”
   “Family comes first,” I said proudly.
   A new sister. How amazing! Another reason to be thankful for Joe coming into our lives. Doing the math, it didn’t take me long to realize more incredible news. I may be getting a baby sister for my eighteenth birthday! I wondered if Mom realized this yet, but wait…
***
WAIT! A newer memory begins to emerge. I remember a birthday party. I’m already eighteen! Family and friends, a backyard celebration, and Mom’s water breaks. Mom must have had the baby already! So where is my sister now?

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