Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Shopping Cart Dilemmas

I chew on a grape, and lick my lips, as the sweet scrumptious flavor bursts into my mouth. I love fruit, and can’t wait to get home and make a yummy fruit salad. I  look down at the bright red strawberries, purple blueberries, orange cantaloupe, and blackberries. I’m so hungry, I could eat all the fruit as I walk to my car. I feel joyful. I picture myself gobbling the fruit salad, and biting into a piece of salmon smothered with mustard sauce and garlic. I love cooking and I love food.  My mom would always say,  “It’s the little things.”

 I push my shopping cart towards my car, as I try to control the urge to devour my groceries before I get home. I open the trunk, and place the groceries in my car, grab one more grape, and look around for the nearest station to return my cart.  I hear something. A buzz. I see a flying insect with a bright yellow jacket  flying around. Oh no, it must smell all the fruit! It lands on the cart. I am petrified of wasps and bees, and am also allergic.

I remember being ten years old, and in camp, when I got stung and had to be sent to the emergency room. My leg blew up, and I had trouble breathing. This awful memory invades my brain and convinces me to leave the cart in the parking spot. There is no way I’m bringing it back.  I hate when people don’t return their carts, and normally get angry. But today I don’t care.  I’m not going to risk my life. I let go of the cart and quickly close the trunk. I  walk around to the drivers side. I open the car door when I hear someone yell, “Hey you!”

What a yucky day.  My son called me to tell me he’s getting divorced. My husband Jack is away on a business trip, and I discovered, with some sleuthing, that his pretty assistant Alexis is with him. I spilled cranberry juice on my brand new white shirt, and feel like I’m getting a cold. And this morning, I stepped barefoot in diarrhea, left from Bailey. I spent an hour before work, cleaning the floor,  and taking him for a long walk to clear his stomach.

Today can’t get any worse. I can’t wait to pick up some groceries, go home, have a glass of wine, and cook a nice meal, for myself.  With Jack away, I can watch whatever show I want.  I can also cook a meal that I like, using ingredients he won’t eat. I’m thinking of eggplant parmigiana, one of my favorites. Jack is lactose intolerant, so this is one meal I haven’t made in a long time.

 As I pull into the parking lot, I see several carts haphazardly left in various spots. Every spot I want to park in has a cart. This pisses me off. What the hell is wrong with people?  I don’t need this crap today.   I see a very fit, healthy looking woman in her thirties, empty her cart, and leave it in a spot, as she is about to get in her car. And she seems in a rush. Probably to go home to her perfect house, with her perfect husband, perfect children, and perfect dog with a perfect digestive system. Ugh!  I’m mad. I think of my miserable life. She can’t walk back to return her damn cart? I speed up behind her car, almost hitting the cart, and  run out of my car , yelling, “Hey you!”

I look up, as this car pulls up behind me. A crazy looking woman with wild red hair, runs out, her finger in the air. Her eyes bulge as she screams at me, “You better not leave your cart here!”

I look around, in a bit of shock. Is she yelling at me?  Does she have a gun? Does she not realize, I may get stung any minute?  I’m in such shock,  I just stare at her, and also at the flying yellow jacket, which is now getting closer.

Why is this rude, privileged woman staring at me?  Like I’m doing something wrong?  This day is awful.  “Are you really too damn lazy to put your stupid cart back?” I am screaming like a lunatic.  

I don’t know if I should be more scared of the wasp or of this crazy woman.  Shit, there is the wasp.  It’s getting closer. Oh God, oh no, please don’t sting me. I start flinging my arms and swatting at it.

Oh man, is she having a seizure? Why is she swinging her arms and looking scared to death? Oh man, if she has a heart attack, I’ll feel so guilty. Now, she is running in the opposite direction, flailing her arms. What is wrong with her?  What is wrong with me for yelling at a perfect stranger who obviously has some severe psychological disorder?  Oh man,  I should just go home, mind my own business, and deal with my miserable life.

I bolt away from this wasp. I sprint, like I’m running a race. After the incident when I was ten years old, I was  given an epipen, which is in my brown purse at home, sitting on the counter. Today I took my black purse and forgot the pen. I can’t get stung!   Damn that stupid lady for yelling at me. There are so many wayward carts, why doesn’t she go after someone else? Plus, she found a good parking spot behind my car.

 I look around. I don’t see the wasp anymore.  The coast is clear. I hope the wasp stings the crazy lady.  I scoot back to my car.  That damned lady is still there. Now, she is putting my cart away. Actually, she is forcefully throwing my cart with the other carts. She is stomping her feet as she walks back to her car. Maybe I can slip into my car quietly, and drive away before she sees me.

I should get free groceries for doing this. Or have that stupid woman pay me. The entitled bitch is returning.  She looks healthy, I’m going to give her a piece of my mind. I’ve had it with people like her.  She’s about to get in her car.  I throw the cart with the others and run back.  “Hey, you! Not so fast missy!”

Damn, she saw me. Ugh.  I guess I’ll have to explain myself. I feel something on my arm. I look, and the yellow jacket is sitting on my arm, taunting me. It must have stung me. I push it off and oh fuck, if I got stung I can die!  Oh no! I look around in a panic.

She looks scared again. Good. I was always the one being bullied in grade school. Now, I can be the  tough one. I feel happy for the first time today. I glance at her and she looks strange.  Why is she  holding her throat.  She looks pale.   My shoulders tense, as I feel shaky. What’s going on?

Please don’t let me pass out. I don’t want to die.   I look at my arm. It doesn’t look bad.  I’m not breathing properly. Is this a reaction or am I having a panic attack?  The doctor told me just because I had an allergic reaction when I was ten, doesn’t mean I will always get one.  How do I know what this is?  It doesn’t matter, crazy lady is coming over and will probably kill me. My odds aren’t good here.

I don’t feel too good about yelling at this woman right now. What is wrong with me anyway?  I found a parking spot, it’s a beautiful day. I need to lighten up.  I better see if she is okay.  “ Are you ok?” I ask her.

She’s being civil to me. I must look like I’m dying.
“ I just got stung by a bee, I mean wasp, yellow jacket, whatever, I don’t know, but I’m allergic and I left my epipen at home, and---”  

Shit.  I don’t know how to handle this.  “Um, oh God, um, should I call 911? Do you live far away?” I ask, looking around, wondering why there is not one other person in this damn parking lot who can help! I take out my phone...

I look at my arm.  It looks the same as it did before I got stung. There is no stinger in my arm. Maybe it didn’t really sting me?  I didn’t actually feel the stinging, and I do remember being in a lot of pain when I was ten years old and got stung.  I look at the crazy lady, who looks kind of nice and concerned at the moment, and is asking me if she should call 911. She is taking out her phone.  “No, don’t call 911.  I, I , uh, I may not have really gotten stung. Um, I thought I did. I may be having a panic attack, I---”

Wow, this woman is normal. She gets panic attacks, just like I do. Boy oh boy, did I misjudge her.

“It’s OK. I’m sorry I yelled at you. Just having a bad day and the carts were like the icing on the cake.”

She doesn’t look so crazy anymore. I feel a lot better. “It’s alright. I get it. I hate when people leave their carts in spots. I would have put it away, but that stupid yellow jacket freaked me out, and I just wanted to get out of here as quickly as I could.”

She’s so nice.  I almost want to invite her over for eggplant parmigiana and a glass of wine. We can become friends. Boy, do I need friends right now.  I feel like I’m going to burst into tears. What am I thinking?  I need to get out of here. “Well, let me go shopping, take care, and have a good night. See you around.”

Now, she looks like she’s going to cry. What a strange day. I just want to go home and eat my fruit.  “Bye, nice meeting you.”

Maureen enters the grocery store, as Lana drives home.

Monday, April 24, 2017


The sleet pelted at the window, as Deanna opened one eye, and saw a white mess. She grabbed the covers and tucked them under her chin. When she went to bed last night, her plan was to arise early and run outside.  The weathermen said it would be brisk and sunny.  She wished she had a job where she could make mistakes, and get paid an astronomical salary.

 Her head pounded as she remembered her week from hell.  Her boss reprimanded her for a stupid administrative error, her sister yelled at her for forgetting her niece’s birthday, and  Jon, her boyfriend of 7 months, decided he wanted to see other people. She hated her life right now.

She peeked at the clock. 8AM.  She never slept this late.  She  got out of bed and shivered when she felt the cold floor under her feet. She went to the bathroom, grabbed her slippers, then made her way into the kitchen.

“Damn it, I forgot to buy coffee!” she screamed as she scrounged through the cabinets, hoping to discover an extra container somewhere.   She pouted and poured herself a glass of OJ. She winced as the acidy flavor hurt her throat. She left it on the counter, unfinished.

She looked out the window at the slushy, icy mess.  She wished she lived in the city so she could walk to a Starbucks. She hated suburban life.

Her phone dinged a text. It was from her ex-husband David.  Hey, Janie has a bit of a fever so could you pick her up? I don’t know what to do.

“Seriously?! You have her till 5PM. I don’t want to drive in this crap. That’s your responsibility,  you piece of shit!” she screamed into the phone. Instead, she texted,  I’ll be there as soon as I can. She looked outside. She hated driving in bad weather.

She pulled on yoga pants, a turtleneck, and Uggs. She pushed her hair into a ponytail and grabbed her purse. She saw a lottery ticket sitting on the counter. She  purchased it last night in a fit of desperation. She quickly pulled out her phone, got to the lottery app, and checked her numbers.  The first number matched, then the second, then the third, and holy crap, they all matched!

She screamed and pinched herself to make sure she wasn’t dreaming. She sniffed the glass of OJ and scrutinized it, convinced she was drugged and was hallucinating.  Real people don’t  win the lottery.

She stared at the ticket and thought she would pass out. She envisioned a big house, a new car, lots of clothes, and then she stopped. She didn’t want material things. She wanted options, choices. A good life for her daughter, a new job for herself.

She imagined long lost relatives materializing and asking for money. This made her want to vomit.
She sat down and took deep breaths. Her phone dinged. She looked down and saw a new text from David. Coming soon?

Yes, in my new private jet,  she wanted to write back,  as she realized she may be able to afford a private jet soon.

Her head spun and she felt dizzy. Nausea overcame her and she went into the bathroom and threw up. She stared in the mirror,  wishing her anxiety would take a walk.

She picked up the ticket, her hat,scarf, coat, and gloves and ambled to her car. She slipped on the ice and fell down hard on her butt. “Ow. You know what, fuck it,” she said out loud.

She pulled out her phone and texted David, roads are bad, walkway is icy. You’ll have to keep Janie for the day. Give her Tylenol for her fever.

As she sat in the middle of the sidewalk she thought how next year , her chauffeur could pick up Janie. She got up. Her phone dinged again. This time, it was her ex boyfriend Jon. I made a mistake, I miss you.

“Well you will really miss me once you find out I’m a millionaire,” she yelled at her phone.

She rubbed her temples as she imagined  hiding for the rest of her life It was a three hour drive to Albany, where she would need to go to collect her earnings.

“Screw the bad roads. I want my money. And I want it today.”

She opened her purse, saw a day old bagel  amongst a massive amount of used tissues and papers. “ I really need to be more organized,” she muttered, as she pulled a piece of hair off the bagel. She flung off what appeared to be a piece of snot. Since the bagel was inedible by now, she took the ticket out of her pocket, and shoved it in the bagel hole so it wouldn’t get lost amidst all the clutter.

She walked  to her car, in slow motion, to avoid icy spots.  Then she saw Oscar, her neighbor’s overly friendly 130 pound bull mastiff. He galloped over to her, jumped, and she fell again, knocking over her purse and all of its contents.  She went to put everything back in  when Oscar, excited by the bagel,  lunged forward, took the bagel and the ticket, and ran off.

“ No!” she yelled.  She attempted to run after Oscar but kept slipping on the ice. She then realized she never signed the ticket. And Oscar’s family were not the nicest of people.

“Shit!” she screamed as her phone dinged consecutively. She glanced down and saw a text by David, followed by a text from Jon. She wanted to cry. She saw Oscar run into a doggy door connected to his house. She prayed that he hadn’t eaten the bagel and ticket by now. She slipped several times but managed to run to the front door. She rang the doorbell.

The door opened and Deanna gasped. She was face to face with the wicked witch of the west. Deanna stared at Sylvia’s green face.

“ Don’t look at me like you’ve never seen a woman in a mask before. It’s a great exfoliator. Anyway, what can I do for you?”

“So, your dog accidentally took a bagel from my purse and I need it back,” stammered Deanna.

“You’ve got to be kidding.. Here honey, buy yourself a new bagel, really.” She grabbed her wallet and handed Deanna a $5 bill.

Deanna felt the tears,  but pushed them back. She couldn’t tell Sylvia the truth about the lottery ticket, she didn’t trust her. Oscar appeared at the door with nothing in his mouth.

“Oscar loves to play with bagels but never eats them.  He is a finicky eater. Anyway, I’m sure it’s around here somewhere, I’ll chuck it,” said Sylvia as she tried to close the door in Deanna’s face.

“No, please it has sentimental value and--”

“A bagel has sentimental value, are you okay?” sneered Sylvia.

“No, I’m not okay, I’m delusional, so please just humor me and let me have my bagel back.”

Sylvia sighed and let her in. Deanna ran to the kitchen , looked around, no bagel.  Her heart sank.   Sylvia’s bratty 5 year old came running in holding the bagel. “ Look Ma!” Behind her was Melanie,  her 14 year old goth babysitter , looking bored wearing a black turtleneck, black jeans, and black boots. She didn’t look like someone Deanna would ever hire to watch her kid.  Deanna wondered why they needed a babysitter if they’re home. Deanna grabbed the bagel but there was no lottery ticket.

“You happy now?” asked Sylvia.

She  thought maybe the ticket fell out before Oscar got to the doggy door.  She ran to the backyard, dropped to her hands and knees, and searched for the ticket. Sylvia, plus her bratty kid, and Melanie followed her. They must think she is an escaped mental patient and need to watch her every move.  Searching through the snowy, slushy, icy mess was not fun at all.

“What the hell is going on out here?”  She heard Sylvia’s muscle tattooed tough husband Barry.

‘Oh, just looking for ---”   At the exact same time both Deanna and Barry spotted the lottery ticket on the ground.

Barry lunged at it before she was able to. He scooped it up. “What’s this?” he bellowed as Deanna felt her heart about to explode out of her chest.

“I..I.. bought that for… dad.. And ,” lied Deanna, praying the improv class she took in high school was paying off right now.

Barry looked at her sideways with a look of disbelief in his eyes.

“ Ever since my mom died, he has been collecting lottery tickets and---”

Barry pulled a dollar out of his pocket. “Here, buy him another ticket.  I am feeling lucky.” He shoved the ticket in his pocket. “You need to leave, you’re trespassing.”

Deanna felt like she was going to fall apart.

“Please, I have to give it to him, he’s really ill and this--.” She lost her train of thought as Barry said, “Get out of my yard,” as he and his entourage stomped back into the house.

Her shoulders slumped, she trudged home, feeling like she had been run over by a truck. Her phone had multiple texts from her husband and her ex. She couldn’t confide in either of them. She thought of her dilemma. She needed to do something drastic, but what?

She thought about her relationship with David, her ex, and what went wrong. They dated all through college. They both sang in the chorus, and performed concerts together. Every Friday night was pizza night. Their relationship escalated into marriage, and then Janie was born. She was  the love of Deanna’s life. Deanna couldn’t remember the exact moment things went downhill.  David’s affair with her best friend didn’t help.  

She contemplated about  Jon, her ex-boyfriend, who now had a change of heart. She met him at a coffee shop six months ago.  They clicked over their love of coffee. She adored his whole family. He called her every day, and told her he loved her after two months. The night of his sister's’ wedding, they danced for hours.  She was positive , this was her second chance at love. And then, out of the blue, he decided it was too serious, and they should see other people.

Memories floated in her brain.  She tried to push them away. The thought of confronting Barry, made her shake. She decided to escape the reality of life instead and put on Netflix . She binge watched TV, and ate chocolates for hours. She decided Barry probably signed the lottery ticket and collected his earnings by now. She cried over her bad luck. She felt bad Janie was sick, but knew David could handle, or he could call his mommy to help.

Hours later, the doorbell rang. She opened it and there was Melanie, the goth babysitter, still dressed in black, with black eyeshadow and black lipstick.

“Here.”  Melanie handed her the lottery ticket.  “I quit my job with them. They’re brutal. Plus their kid’s a brat.”

Deanna gasped and pulled Melanie in.  “Oh, my , how did you…?”

“ When Barry was taking a dump, and her highness Sylvia was soaking in the tub, I crept into their bedroom. I know their secret hiding places. Once, when they pissed me off, I snuck in with a tiny needle and put little holes in their condoms. Right through the wrapper!”  Melanie laughed.

Deanna’s eyes opened wide. “ Um, wow, I , I don’t know what to say.”

“ It was fun. Anyway, this was easy. So here.”

“Thank you but .. I could have kept it.”

“Neh, ” she said, which made Deanna feel guilty. “Plus you have to be 18, so no biggie. “

Deanna hugged her, and said, “I will definitely give you some money and----”

Melanie shrugged, looking bored.  “ Did you really win, like, a million dollars?”

Deanna hesitated, and prayed for forgiveness for lying. “Probably only five hundred, but better than nothing. How about once I collect my money, I give you $100?”

Melanie’s eyes lit up. “Wow, cool.  I hope creepo doesn’t come over.”

Deanna grabbed a pen, signed her name, and put the ticket in her purse. “He’ll know you took it, we need a plan. I don’t want him to go after you.”

The doorbell rang, as on cue. “Hide in the closet! Quick!,” said Deanna as she pushed Melanie into her walk in closet.

 Deanna  inhaled, exhaled, and opened the door. Barry stood there looking like an angry wolf about to attack his prey.

“ Is Melanie here?” he barked.

Confidence overtook Deanna.  “ No, last time I saw her was at your house.”

“She quit. And the lottery ticket is gone. She stole it.”

Deanna remembered the golden rule of improv. Always agree.

“I can’t believe that little twit stole the ticket. Ha, won’t she be surprised when she cashes in and finds out she won $2!” Deanna faked a genuine laugh.

“If the ticket was only $2, why did you want it so badly?”  snapped Barry.  He looked like an angry crocodile when he spoke.

Deanna used every skill she ever learned in acting class and started blubbering.  “ I started to tell you before. My dad was making a scrapbook for me of all my lottery tickets. I know it sounds corny, but he doesn’t have long to live, and this was really important to him. It was a tradition we started after my mom died.  I never won more than $10 , but no matter how little I win as soon as I  collect my earnings, I give him the ticket. He has every one!” Deanna wiped her eyes with her sleeve.

Barry softened a bit. “ Oh, man, wow.  So, it was only worth $2?”

“Yep,” said Deanna as she sniffled.  “ If you see her, you tell her that---”

“ I doubt I’ll ever see her again. OK, well, gotta go.”  And Barry sauntered away.

Melanie came out of the closet and said, “ Oh my God, that was amazing. I almost believed you.”

“I almost believed myself.”  Deanna laughed.

She glanced at the clock.  “I gotta pick up Janie.”
“Well, if you ever need a babysitter…?”  Melanie looked at her with puppy dog eyes.

Deanna pictured Melanie, dressed in black, poking holes in condom wrappers.

“ Well, I’m lucky that my ex is often free. Plus his parents help, and my parents too, but sure, you’ll be the first person I call if I need someone,”  lied Deanna, knowing there was no way she would ever hire her, even though she would be eternally grateful to her for the rest of her life.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Texting Dilemmas

Courtney felt her blood pressure rise as the white car in front of her, swerved over the yellow line.

 “I bet she’s texting. She’s looking down in her lap!” yelled Courtney as she gripped the wheel.
Courtney braked, as she approached a red light, keeping her distance from the car ahead. She thought of her 24 year old son Jared. She hoped his common sense prevented him from texting while driving.

The light turned green and the white car hightailed down the street. A stop sign loomed ahead and the white car did not slow down.  Courtney gasped and beeped her horn, but too late. The white car merged ahead, right through the stop sign, as a brand new Mercedes slammed into it.
Courtney quickly pulled over, praying everyone was okay. Her anger propelled her forward. She wanted to shake the driver of the white car for texting before the accident. She felt sorry for the innocent Mercedes driver who did nothing wrong. She planned to tell the police her observations.

The Mercedes driver  exited her car, slamming what was left of her door.  Courtney recognized her.  Everyone knew her.  Her name was Mabel, she was in her forties, lived near Courtney, and went to the same grocery store and dry cleaners. She was entitled and rude to the employees. Yesterday, Courtney witnessed Mabel  barge into the grocery store, yelling at the high school grocery clerk, “ You didn’t pack my onion! I couldn’t make my dinner without it!  I had to drive all the way back here because of your carelessness. You’ll never amount to anything, you ruined my day!”
The poor clerk’s face turned red as he stuttered, “I’m sorry.. I didn’t see them..”
“You pathetic idiot!” she yelled.

Regardless of how cruel Mabel could be, she was in the right. Courtney watched as Mabel glowered at the white car. The white car door opened and Courtney gasped as she saw the familiar reddish blonde hair, and petite frame. The driver was Emily, the sweetest girl you could ever meet, who happened to be dating her son. She ran over to make sure Emily was alright, while Mabel screamed, “How dare you?! This is a new car!”

Emily’s face filled with tears. She stammered, “ I’m so sorry,  it’s my fault, I shouldn’t have t--”

Courtney cut her off.  “Don’t say another word,” she whispered in Emily’s ear.  

Mabel shook her finger at Courtney.  “You were a witness, you saw her go through the stop sign. She was probably texting and---”

Sirens blasted and a police car approached.

Courtney looked up at the sky, and prayed for guidance. “What do I do? Tell the truth or protect Emily?” whispered Courtney.  

She wished she hadn’t shaved her legs this morning. If she hadn’t ,she would have left earlier and not be in this horrible predicament.  She remembered rubbing her hands over her legs and feeling a bushy growth of stubs. She was running late, but decided shaving was a good idea, since she was wearing capris. Those five minutes of shaving, that caused her to be in this exact place at this exact moment of time, may end up ruining her life. She wished she stayed hairy.

Mabel scooted to her car to get her license,  and Courtney whispered to Emily, “ Don’t say a word.”
When the police arrived,  Mabel pointed at Courtney and said, “She was behind her, she can vouch she went through the stop sign and was texting.”

Courtney hesitated. “Actually, I didn’t notice anything amiss…”

Mabel glared at her and yelled to the policeman, “Look at her phone, you’ll see she was texting! I saw her!  As she hit me, I saw her throw her phone down. She should be put away, have her license revoked, take---”

“Maam, let me do my job.”

Courtney whispered to Emily, “ Let’s switch phones.”  Courtney knew this was immoral, and illegal, but she felt temporarily possessed. This was the only girlfriend Jared had that Courtney approved of. The last one was a spoiled brat  who Courtney despised. When he brought home Emily, she was thrilled.

Courtney walked Emily to her car to get her license and registration, and when nobody was looking, they switched phones.  Emily whispered, “ You’re the best. I love you.”

Courtney felt proud and excited. She also knew she would have to change her dry cleaners and supermarket to avoid Mabel.

Emily handed the policeman Courtney’s phone. “Here you go sir.”

He scrolled through her recent texts and then returned it. “ Looks like no texting was involved.”

The police  headed over to Mabel. Courtney asked Emily, “Were you texting Jared?”

Emily put her head down and mumbled, “yes.”

Courtney watched from afar as Mabel was yelling at the policeman and pointing fingers at both Courtney and Emily.

Guilt crept through Courtney’s bones as she realized the ramifications of what she did. She could be arrested. She switched phones!  What was she thinking?

Emily’s car was not too damaged, so she was able to drive it home. Courtney was halfway home, when she realized she still had Emily’s phone. She finished her drive, parked her car, ran into her house, and opened up the phone to get Emily’s phone number. She wanted to call to meet to switch phones back, but a text caught her eye.

The text  Emily wrote before the accident. It wasn’t to Jared. It was to her friend Cindy. It said,  u r right bout Jared.  I can’t wait to break --

All the color disappeared from Courtney’s face.  The consequences of what she did hit her hard, like a rock being thrown into a window.

“She is breaking up with my son?  And I just did something illegal to save her life? What a moron I am!” yelled Courtney to her reflection in the mirror.

She kicked a chair, ran to her computer, and searched the internet for Emily’s address. She drove to her house, phone in hand. She slammed her car door shut and walked briskly to the front door. She banged on the door. No answer.  She sat on the stoop, contemplating what to do when she got a text. Actually Emily got a text, since it was her phone.  It was from her son!   Hey cutie, I’ll be there in 5 minutes. Luv u!

Courtney thought she was going to burst into tears. Her son was on his way. She scrambled back to her car and floored the gas. She thought of all her options. She could go to the police and confess, but risk getting arrested. Or she could have a heart to heart with her son and convince him that Emily is not the girl for him. What a disaster this was.

Once she was home, another text popped up from someone named David.  Hey , u want to hang latuh?

Hang latuh?  Seriously! Who was this David and had he ever taken an English class?  Courtney thought of what a despicable cheat Emily was. Courtney, pretending to be Emily, texted David back, No! Loser!  

Courtney put her head in her hands, and sobbed. After, what felt like hours, she started walking upstairs, when she heard the key in the door. And in walked Jared and a guilty looking Emily.

Jared ran to Courtney and gave her a hug, which surprised Courtney. “Thanks mom, Emily told me you saved her life today.”

Courtney glared at Emily.

Emily said, “ I still have your phone.”  She handed the phone to Courtney.  Courtney gave Emily her phone and said nothing.

Emily quickly scrolled through her texts, and then turned white. She must have seen Courtney’s reply to David, and knew that Courtney read her texts.

“Tell him,” said Courtney.

Emily bit her lip as she looked at her phone.

“Mom, what the?” asked Jared.

There was silence.

“I aided and abetted today, and for nothing!” cried Courtney.

Emily’s eyes darted back and forth as Jared said, “What are you talking about??”

“Tell him what you were doing Emily!” screamed Courtney.

“I know she was texting, mom!” yelled Jared.

“She was texting her friend----” screamed Courtney.

Emily cut her off. “ I was texting my friend Cindy. I already told him.”  

Emily stared at Courtney.  Courtney glanced at Jared, and saw a naivety and innocence about him that made her want to hug him, and not let him go. He was clearly in love with Emily, and was going to get hurt, but she had to bud out, and not meddle. But, she also did something illegal and needed to come clean.

“I’m going to the police station and tell them the truth. You know, Emily, the term that honesty is the best policy may be something you should practice.” Courtney threw on her coat,  and grabbed her car keys as she opened the door.

“Mom! What is wrong with you?” yelled Jared.

“No. She’s right. I shouldn’t have been texting while driving and I need to pay the consequences. I’ll go with you,” said Emily as she stumbled towards the door.

Courtney scowled at Emily and said with a burst of courage,” Why don’t you invite  David?”

Emily and Jared looked at each other and both frowned.

“Mom, I know you’re upset but what the heck does Emily’s brother have to do with this?” Jared looked as confused as ever.

Courtney stopped in her tracks.  “David is your brother?”

Emily responded, “ Yes, I saw you texted him back. Why did you call him a loser? “

Courtney stared at both Emily and Jared. She saw the love radiate between the two of them. She also observed the innocence of both.

Courtney swallowed and rubbed her clammy hands on her coat. “ Your text to Cindy. What were you---”
Jared cut her off with wide eyes.  “Geez mom!  You read her texts!?”

Courtney rubbed the nape of her neck, and Emily looked at her phone again.

Emily raised her eyebrows, as she said, “ Did you think I was breaking up with Jared and that David was my new boyfriend?”

Jared shook his head while massaging his temples as Courtney slumped her shoulders and looked down.

“ You did say break up and--” stammered Courtney.

Emily read the text out loud. “u r right bout Jared.  I can’t wait to break --”

There was silence and then Emily looked at Jared. “ Cindy is your biggest fan, and my bestie. I told her our secret. And I was going to write that I can’t wait to break the news to my mom and dad.”
Jared hugged Emily as Courtney started breathing heavy and held onto a chair.

“You mean, um, that , you guys are getting married? Oh my God, you’re so young and--.”  Courtney felt lightheaded and sat down.

Jared sighed. “Mom, we’re not getting married. Emily does this Habitat for Humanity every summer with her mom and dad. She asked me to go, I hesitated at first, but, she convinced me. I was gonna tell you tonight. ”

Emily chimed in with her eyes wide open, and used her hands to show her excitement. “ We’re going to Thailand this summer. I didn’t think Jared would go for it but, he did!  You raised a great son!”

Courtney stared at them both. She put her car keys down, removed her coat, and sat down on the couch. After she mumbled an apology and they both left, she got up, opened a bottle of wine, and wished this day to be over.