My Momma’s Things

Submitted into Contest #185 in response to: Set all or part of your story in a jam-packed storage unit.... view prompt

2 comments

Contemporary Fiction

   The storage unit door rolled up. Eduardo stood with his elderly momma beside him and his wife behind them.

   “Okay, momma, let me get a chair for you.” Eduardo took out from high a Louis XV style chair and placed it on the concrete for her. He got one out for Maria, but she waved him away and fumbled for her cigarettes and lighter. “Could you do that over there?” He pointed.

   She gave him a look of outrage.

   “The wind. The smoke will get in the chairs and the carpets. Maria, please, over there.” 

   Maria stomped her heels away. Momma let go of her walker and sat. Eduardo got a bentwood chair for himself. He found a small marble top table to go between them. None of momma’s furniture ever matched. Among the overstuff storage was a box Eduardo recognized and removed newspaper wrapped tea cups and saucers from. He unwrapped and placed them on the table. From a picnic hamper he had brought he took out a thermos and poured milky tea in both cups.

   “Where my paper?” Momma asked.

   Eduardo took a laptop from the picnic hamper. “No more paper anymore, momma. We’re going to look on this.”

   “She doesn’t know what that is. We did the same thing three weeks ago. She doesn’t remember anything anymore.” Maria said, punctuating by waving her cigarette around.

   Momma turned and smiled at Maria. “I’m going to buy a new house. I’m going to have a home of my own again.” Momma turned to Eduardo. “I don’t want to stay in that place anymore.”

   “I know, momma, I know.” He powered up the laptop and clicked on a familiar link. Houses began to appear on the screen. “Here we go. Look momma.”

   Momma leaned within two inches of the screen and moved her eyes from corner to corner. She placed a finger on one of the houses on the screen. “Show me inside.”

   Eduardo tapped and a video walkthrough of the house began to play. Momma smiled and her eyes widened in delight.

   “She is not getting another house.” Maria said. ”Tell her she’s not getting another house. She can’t look after herself. I’m never cleaning up after her again. Do you remember what her bathroom looked like?”

   Eduardo shushed her quiet.

   “Don’t tell me to be quiet. Why are we keeping all this? Why are we paying to keep all her junk? Seven months now. That’s two vacations we could have had. We should sell it all and take a trip.”

   “Why can’t you let her be happy? She misses her things. She wants to see them sometimes. This is her life in here.”

   Eduardo moved up to Maria.

   Momma looked away from the laptop. She grasped her walker and moved along the edge of the storage unit. Past couch ends, beds on their sides, end boards, end tables, and a dresser she knew well. On top were stacks of photo albums. She pulled a middle one without pulling them down on herself, or losing her balance. It was a good day for her. She shuffled back to her chair and opened the album. She rubbed her hand on each photo like they were good luck charms. She looked up at the sun squinting. Then she looked back down, surprised there was a photo album on her lap. She studied it again.

   “Momma told me I should never have married you.”

   “Yeah, well now she doesn’t even know who you are. And you’re no prize, either. She wants to buy a house? Sell her ours. We’re going to have to sell our house to pay for that retirement hotel you put her in. Why didn’t you marry her? Why did you have to pick on me?”

   “When we took that trip to the Falls, I should have pushed you.” Eduardo said.

   “I should have jumped.”

   Eduardo marched away to sit with momma again. Momma put the photo album on the table and moved it towards Eduardo almost knocking the laptop off before he caught it. Momma held her fingers under a photo in the top corner. She whispered to him. “That’s my son.” She smiled and closed the album, then rose to try to return it.

   “I’ll get it, Momma.”

   He returned it and they sat sipping tea, and looking at the rows of other storage units across from them. It stayed sunny and quiet, except for Maria making a show of huffing and puffing while she chain-smoked away the afternoon.

   Eduardo returned his momma to her care facility. Her next home was palliative care. Then momma passed.

   Maria did not attend the funeral. Eduardo explained to friends and family that she had left him to travel the world. Discreetly, he let people know that she had detested him for years and could not wait for an excuse to leave him. The same people delicately let Eduardo know that they had also known she was not good for him and it was for the best.

   Eduardo took one last trip to the storage unit. The owner followed him in. Eduardo opened the unit.

   “I’m so sorry.” The owner said. Eduardo thanked him.

   “About her things. We have an auction service.” The owner said.

   “The lease is for ten years.”

   “Yes, but it’s only been two. Such a tragedy. We can work something out on the lease.”

   “No.” Eduardo opened his truck and dragged down a hope chest. “It’s the last of her things, from the home. I can’t bring myself to throw any of her things away.”

   He pushed the photo albums back on the dresser and got the owner to lift an end of the hope chest and they set it on top. He pulled down the roll door and locked it. “I will keep paying the lease. I cannot deal with this now. I must grieve. When I can deal with this I will call.”

   “How is your wife doing?”

   “She left me.”

   “I’m so sorry.”

   Eduardo drove off, comforted that at least he would never have any more grief from Maria again. Well, at least she wouldn’t be found for another eight years.    

February 11, 2023 01:39

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2 comments

Milena Todorova
08:38 Feb 24, 2023

Wonderful story, David! I loved it! Eduardo remained Eduardo and even in his alone and grieving version, it warmed my heart. Your story moved me in a way I can't explain, thank you and congrats on the great work!

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Jack Kimball
15:19 Feb 18, 2023

Hi David. Love the reveal at the end! I couldn't stand the wife either. It would have been interesting to 'see' the actual body. Great job! Jack

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