Sis amplexibus Amor alios mututa memini et amoris in mutationes memini.
May you be embraced by a love beyond recall that alters others and a love within recall that alters you.
Frances was dazed as she walked through the terminal. When she left Toronto last week it seems so logical, so direct to get to where she wanted to go and now that she was back it was a sprawling maze. She didn’t want go to her aunt’s or to Dave’s. She had few friends in Toronto other than a couple of nurses who were more care givers than friends.
She sat in one of the airport cafes and had a coffee and muffin. She hadn’t slept at all on the flight. People streamed around her. Coming. Going. All with definite purpose. Parents with carts of luggage, crying children in tow in a flow of languages.
She took out her cellphone and scrolled through the numbers. Doctors, her aunt, Dave, girls she had gone to school with but who didn’t live in Toronto, the bridal shop. She should have been on her honeymoon right now if it were for that asshole she met. What had he done to her, said to her?
No, she couldn’t blame him or anyone. She had made the decision to leave too easily.
She called Dave. She hoped he wasn’t were his mother would answer. Why did Sophia always answer Dave’s cellphone like that? It was his not hers. Sophia had her own number, didn’t she? If she could get Dave away from his mother there’d be more of a chance for them. Dave she loved, his mother was another story. She recalled that movie about the monstrous mother-in-law and after it Dave asked if his mother was that bad. When she said ‘worse’ he laughed.
“Hello” Dave answered.
“Dave, it’s …”
“Francie where are you?”
“I’m at the airport.”
“Airport!! Which one?”
“Toronto. Terminal 3.”
“I’m on my way.”
“Okay.” Her voice dropped to a whisper. “I’ll wait at passenger pick-up.”
“About an hour.”
“Fine.” she finished her coffee. Went to the washroom and splashed water on her face. The face was paler that usual in the mirror. Her hair was growing in but was patchy. But this was her. This was her body and her face and she wasn’t going to hide that anymore. There’d be no more wigs, make-up or any of the others things Sophia has insisted on to make her look like a beautiful bride. This was her. The pale bride. Like it or lump it.
She waited inside passenger pick-up to keep where she hoped she would see Dave when he pulled up. She was able to spot the Mamma Pazzoni delivery car when it entered the flow of traffic.
She hopped in. Dave was forced to keep moving in the flow of traffic.
“Francie what the hell …”
She put a hand on his leg. “I’m back. There’s going to be changes if you want me to stay. Big changes. First I left Francie behind. It’s Kate now. ”
“Whatever, I’m not the one you have to deal with now. Mom ….’
“I don’t care about Sophia. She may run the business but she isn’t going to run my, our life like she owns it too.”
“What! You want me to quit or something. I can’t up and walk out on her, on the business like that.”
“That’s not what I’m asking you to do. I’m going to stop living in her house. I have to have a place of my own. asap.”
“Where am I taking you? Your aunt’s.”
“No. I haven’t figured that out.”
“I can drop you off at Phil’s for now. He and his missus always liked you.”
Phil was one of Mamma Pazzoni’s cooks. Married, in his fifties, with a wife and a couple of kids.
“I don’t want Sophia to know I’m back or where I am. Not till I’m ready.”
“Sure.” Dave drove with one hand and called Phil with the other. Made the arrangements.
“He’s cool. His kid, Julie, left for university in BC so they have a room you can use.”
“Thanks Dave.” Kate relaxed a little. “I knew I could count on you.”
Outside Phil’s Dave was parking when a red car pulled a breast of him to cut him off. It stopped and Sophia jumped out.
“You told her?” Kate gasped.
Sophia pulled the passenger door open and tired to yank Kate out of the car. Her seat belt kept her in place.
“The lunk head forgot that all the delivery cars have security cameras in them. Kate.” She spit out the name Kate. “So much for not letting mama know. Mama knows all.”
Kate unbuckled her seat belt and gave Sophia as strong a shove as she could manage.
“You going to let her push your mother around like that?”
“Don’t like it much do you.” Kate pushed her again. “You can dish it out but you can’t take it. Can you.”
Sophia stepped back.
“If Dave wants to be a mama’s boy that’s fine by me. Truly it is. But I’m not going to be whatever you think you want me to be. I’m not a life size doll for him that you bought to keep him entertained. Or let you dress up either.”
“Of all the ungrateful.”
“Sophia, I am grateful for what you have done for me. The money raising and all that, but that doesn’t buy me. You almost had me convinced though, you and medical community, about how fragile I was. The little doll that needs to be taken care of. One thing I learned this week is that I can take care of myself.”
“Then what brought you back?” Sophia sneered.
“That big lunk head. You know, I really love the guy.”
“Give me break. He can take care of you, that’s what you love.”
Kate had no come back for that. She did like being taken care of. “No more than you like taking care of him. Christ I wouldn’t be surprised if you were taking care of him when I couldn’t.” She made a jerking off gesture over her crotch.
Sophia flew at her. “You smart mouth bitch.”
“Hold on.” Dave stepped between them. “She’s back Mama. We’ll work it out.”
“You take her back and you are through. I’ll have you back behind bars so fast.”
“Try that.” Kate laughed. “We know how he got there in the first place, don’t we. This time you’ll end up there yourself. ”
“You …. you haven’t heard the last of this.” She got back in her car and drove away.
“Some home coming.” Kate felt faint.
“Let me help.” Dave picked her up and carried her to Phil’s front door. “This isn’t the threshold I hoped to carry you across.”
Harris woke wanting another hour of sleep. Turning off the alarm he lay in his bed to review the events of the weekend: Nilasha and what she said to him; Alex and what happened and didn’t happen between them; what his father had told him. Yes, his memory was working at full capacity.
His father had told him that the fact that he remembered his mother and she remembered him was a sign that their feelings were authentic, not part of the …. curse. Did that mean there were authentic feelings between him and Alex. That sure wasn’t what he wanted.
He went to the kitchen. Reached for the chocolate caramel Pop Tarts that were his Monday breakfast. No, that’s not what he wanted. Yes, he enjoyed them. They give him that burst of energy but not today. Wasn’t he told that he said ‘yes’ too easily, that he gave in to what he wanted.
Why worry about his appearance when it was no sweat to get satisfaction. Because he could, didn’t mean he had to, today. He looked in the cupboard for an alternative. It was all stuff he’d been eating since he was in grade school. It was time to let go of kid stuff and try adult fare. But what did he have.
He pulled the boxes out – sugary, fruit flavored crap. Five variations on the same sweet theme in oak flakes, corn flakes or oaten shaped o’s. He came to a box of cereal from Norway that Jodis had given him a month ago. Oatex, which sounded too much like an earth friendly feminine hygiene product for him to open.
The box proclaimed that Oatex had been the official sponsor of Norway’s Olympic Women’s Wrestling Team since 1952. The picture on the box was a clear blue bowl of Oatex with strawberries floating in clumps of cereal and nuts. On it a grinning woman held a spoonful of it to her eager mouth. On the back it said she was the current team captain. There was coupon that if you mailed it in, with three UPC’s, along with ten dollars, you could get a limited-edition photo book “The Illustrated History of The Norwegian Women’s Wrestling Team.”
He opened the box. Tried a dry spoonful and it wasn’t half bad. He filled his HeMan bowl, added milk and ate it standing over the sink. The nuts gave it crunch, there was another ingredient, raisins or cranberries, that gave it enough sweetness. It was satisfying.
Once he was ready for work he texted Jodis ‘oatex xlnt. thnx.’ For the first weeks after she gave everyone in the office a box, she had hounded them to find out if they liked it.
He hesitated at the door. He didn’t want to leave. He didn’t want to deal with anything. His power …. curse, whatever, was demanding too much. That he change his behaviour now that he was aware of it. Become more responsible. He didn’t want to keep making the same mistakes and fucking up other people’s lives but didn’t know how to stop it.
He went back to the kitchen and pulled out two chocolate raspberry pop tarts but only ate one. The sweetness made him sick to his stomach. He needed it though. He got a glass for water. Beside it was a travel mug that said ‘it’s worth it.’
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