Meeting My Mother-in-Law

Submitted for Contest #49 in response to: Write a story about two strangers chatting while waiting for something.... view prompt

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Jul 10, 2020

General

Short Story

"The weather of today is inviting. Not too hot nor too cold," a female voice says.

Phil turns his face to the direction of the voice. "It sure is," he says, smiling back at the old woman who is sitting a few inches from him. 

He reverts his gaze to the children playing hide-and-seek. He has enjoyed every bit of the children's play including singing nursery rhymes. The sight of the children playing reminds him of his dull childhood years. His growing years were spent doing things reserved for adults. 

"You love it here, don't you?" the old woman asks him.

"Yes," he replies, not looking at her.

"I can see you're delighted in watching the children as they play."

"It warms my heart watching them," he says as he turns his head towards her.

The old woman smiles.

"I can't say for certain that I enjoyed my childhood years. I got married off to an old man fit to be called my father when I was fourteen years. Before then, my time was much spent taking care of my younger siblings," she says.

"It must have been traumatic," Phil says.

"Yes. At that I age I was required to act and think like an adult. But, I'm thankful that some of traditional practices such as early marriage are banned worldwide. It denies a child their right to enjoy their childhood."

Silence ensues as both of them watch the children play. 

"My name is Susan," the old woman says.

"You can call me Phil," he says.

"That's a beautiful name. So, Phil, what do you do?"

"I'm a businessman."

"I see..."

Her cellphone rings. She picks it out of her purse, looks at the caller and presses the receive button.

Phil places the morning paper he had bought an hour ago at a nearby newsstand on the surface of the wooden seat, and folds his hands on his chest.

Phil never succeeded in completing his primary school. On his seventh grade, his father died. As the oldest child in the family, he had to drop out of school to take care of his ailing mother and two younger siblings. 

Working in odd jobs at young age, he managed to keep his family intact. Sometimes, they had to bear a meal a day.

His luck came at the age of twenty-seven when he was awarded a grant to start a graphic design business. Seven years down the road, he is oversees nine employees who assist him in his business which has expanded to include web design, webhosting services and online tutorials pertaining to starting a blog and maintaining it. 

"That was my daughter," she says, bringing him back to the present time. "She's coming to see me. She's a busy woman."

Phil smiles. "That's kind of her."

"Yes," she says. "The last time I saw her was three months ago."

"I see..." Phil says.

He lifts his head slightly up, and glares at the blue sky. 

"Whenever I'm stressed, and have an opportunity, I make it a point to come to this park and let nature calm my mind," Susan says.

He lowers his head and turns to look at the woman. He estimates her age to be between fifty-two to fifty-five years. 

"I can understand what you mean," Phil says. "It is a nice place to gain inspiration and motivation needed to push on with life."

"You have spoken well," Susan says.

He returns his gaze to the children who have stopped playing. Their parents who had been sitting behind them are helping the children in packing their belongings. 

Phil watches them as their head at the exit of the park. They must have a vehicle they've parked at the visitor's lot, he says to himself in a whisper. 

He looks at his watch. It's thirty minutes to five in the evening. He has been sitting on the wooden bench for almost two hours. 

"Well, there's my daughter," she says as she struggles to stand up. 

Phil looks at the direction of her hand which is pointed on the eastern side of the park.

He looks in astonishment at the young woman. A slim, tall and dark-haired woman, smiling widely opens her hand widely, a gesture of a warmth embrace.

"Ma, it's good to see you again," she says.

"Look at you! Which man wouldn't be jealous to be your husband," Susan says.

While they talk, Phil stares absently at Jane. He doesn't feel the need to disturb them. He looks for any sign of resemblance between the two women. They're both tall and slim. They have big eyes, thin lips and somehow, square-shaped heads.

"Mom, we had agreed with my boyfriend to meet here at the park. Since I knew you would be at the park at this time, I thought why not introduce him to you."

"That would be good," her mother said.

"Tomorrow morning, I'm supposed to travel to Norway for business purposes. I thought today would be an appropriate time to introduce him."

"Where is he?" Susan asks. 

Jane picks out her phone from her purse, and dialled her boyfriend's number.

She had the ring behind him. She turned to look.

"Phil!" she said.

""Why didn't you tell me you were right here?" she asks.

"It would have been disrespectful, knowing the importance of this meeting," he said.

Her mother, obviously confused with what is going on asks her daughter, "Why have you stopped calling him?"

"Well, mom, he is the one," she says as she throws a glance towards Phil.

"So, you the young man is the one who is my daughter's boyfriend," she says.

"Yes, mum," Phil says as he stands up.

He shakes her hands, smiling then looks at Jane, not knowing what else to do or say.

Jane holds both of their hands and direct them to the wooden bench, still holding their hands as they sit down.

"I see that you already know each other," she says as she winks at both of them.

"Well, where should I star?" She asks.

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