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Contemporary Drama Fiction

“Even though they had always been friends, James looked at Jenny as if for the first time,” Carrie read to Hannah. “There was something in her expressive eyes he had not seen before,” she continued. “It was desire!”

           “Oh, now to the good part!” Hannah exclaimed, from her hospital bed, her eyes twinkling with mischief.

           Carrie scanned down the page of the book she was reading, and her brows rose in concern. “Uh, maybe that is a good place to stop,” she suggested instead. The description got explicit, and Carrie was not about to read it to the older woman.

           “Oh, for Pete’s sake!” Hannah waved her hand dismissively. “At my age I’ve seen and heard it all. I'm 80 years old!"

           Eyes wide open, Carrie thought about that statement. Maybe Hannah was not as prim and proper as Carrie had thought she was. For the last few months, they had been reading from the classics, but this novel was far from that. She had picked it up from the library down the hall assuming it would be chaste.

           “I’m not comfortable reading this part to you,” Carrie admitted. She dog-eared the book and put it aside.

           “Even with my poor eyesight, I can see you blushing,” Hannah laughed. “Just skip that part then. I can use my imagination,” she winked.

           “Who is this woman?” Carrie joked, tucking her long, dark hair behind her ears.  “I’ve never seen this side of you.”

           “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” Hannah punned, wagging her crooked finger at Carrie. “Besides, I have a letter I want you to read to me,” Hannah told her leaning forward. “Can you hand me the mail over there?”

           Relieved to put down the racy novel, Carrie went over to the dresser, which was covered in hand-made doilies and fragile knick-knacks. She grabbed the small stack of mail and handed it over to Hannah’s shaky, out-stretched hands. 

           Hannah pulled out a thin envelope with beautiful script on it.   “Can you read me this letter? It’s from my daughter, Elizabeth.”

           “Oh?” Carrie said, surprised. Hannah had never mentioned any children in all the time she’d been visiting her at the nursing home.

           “We don’t get on well,” Hannah informed Carrie at her puzzled expression. “Like oil and water.”

           “Are you sure you want me to read this?” Carrie asked. Generally, Hannah was rather reserved, and this seemed very personal. Usually, Hannah sat in the lounger dressed to the nines, as if she were going out, but today she looked tired and vulnerable lying in her bed.

           “Of course!” Hannah said, with certainty. “I can’t read it! Just don’t tell Tilly Schwartz down the hall or she’ll tell the whole building.”

           “Okay,” Carried acquiesced, slipping her finger under the flap. The letter was on heavy, light blue paper and the name Elizabeth Ward engraved at the top. Carrie admired that someone had such beautiful stationary in this day and age of emails and technology.

           “Mother,” Carrie began, wondering why no term of endearment. “I have lost track of the years since I last saw you. I’m sure it’s time to leave the past behind, and I am trying to do that. I want to make amends, but I still harbor so much anger and pain. I know I have been hard on you too. I think the only way to move on is to move forward from here, so I am coming to see you during Spring break.” Carrie looked up to gage if this was a good thing or not. Hannah’s large, hazel eyes had tears in them, but she was smiling.

           “I’ll be in touch with you regarding the logistics. I hope you are doing well. I know you are in touch with Miles and Shawn. They seem to enjoy a relationship with you that I never could. I’d like to try again. I have left Keith, so maybe I can understand your point of view better now. I know Daddy could be a hard man, but he was always good to me. I’ll see you soon. Best Regards, Elizabeth.”

           Carrie wasn’t sure what to make of the letter. Hannah looked hopeful, but Carrie thought the tone of the letter was rather cold and impersonal. This was a revealing glimpse into her private friend, and Carrie felt honored that she felt she could expose herself like that.

           Putting the mail away, Hannah remained pensive. Carrie grabbed her backpack and prepared to go and leave her alone with her memories. “Shall we pick back up Friday?” Carrie asked, holding up the novel.

           “Sure, dear,” Hannah replied, her beautiful white hair framing her face. “Maybe you could do my nails before Elizabeth comes,” she said, wistfully. “She’s not used to seeing me in such disarray.”

           “You look classier than anyone here,” Carrie told her honestly. “But we can do your nails.”

           Carrie went home feeling melancholy. She had compassion for Hannah and prayed that the reunion would be a good one. She didn’t always get along with her own Mom, but there was love there.

           The early April air was chilly, but sunny as Carrie drove to school to pick up the kids. Her afternoon quickly erupted with noise and chaos as the kids got in the car. Snacks and homework would occupy her mind for the rest of the day.

           It was after 9:00pm by the time Carrie had a moment to ruminate on her visit with Hannah. Mother daughter relationships could be so fragile with all the unspoken innuendos and history. Would she ever be adrift from her own children? She hoped not, but already they were growing into little humans with opinions and definite personalities. 

           Picking up the latest mystery novel she was reading, Carrie prepared to relax and unwind in her favorite chair, but at the last second put it back down and reached for her phone instead.

           Dialing the familiar number, she let it ring and ring, but no answer. Where was she anyway, she wondered when she remembered it was book club night.

           “Hey, Mom,” Carrie said, leaving a message. “Just wanted to say hi. I haven’t talked to you in a while. Hope everything is okay. Maybe you could come for dinner this weekend? Give me a call. Night. Love you,” she said, determined not to let her relationship with her mother ever get so divided.

April 21, 2022 22:06

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2 comments

Jeffrey Niemann
09:21 Apr 25, 2022

Hopefully Hannah and Elizabeth can make amends. You drew the characters well, making me wonder what was waiting in store for their future. Good job.

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Amy Gupta
21:41 Apr 25, 2022

Thank you for the comments. I appreciate them.

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