The Old Mother – A Fiction

Once again we’re doing a “Writing Prompt” short-short from Writer’s Digest. The prompt goes as follows:

Mother’s Day is over and you’ve just finished a nice dinner with your mom when you receive a phone call. An unfamiliar female voice is on the other end and says, “Stop celebrating with her! I’m your real mother.” Write this scene.

So who could  this be?  Let’s find out in this short-short entitled: The Old Mother


“Who was that on the phone?”

“Some woman claiming to be you.”

“Pardon?”

I started clearing off the table. “Well she said she was my real mother and that I shouldn’t be celebrating Mother’s Day with you. A joke, no doubt.”

Mother’s head cocked to one side. “Really.”

“Really.”

I paused long enough to straighten her head back. A necessary chore, as if she does it herself, she’d be at it all night trying to get it just right. A perfectionist, she is. The sound her neck makes sometimes sets my teeth on edge.

She appreciates the effort, or at least she never complains about it. Instead, she continued the conversation as if nothing had happened. “How did she get your cell number, I wonder.”

Such a suspicious tone. But past failings had planted this distrust. My own fault they came to fruit on occasion.

“Internet,” I told her as I took the plates to the kitchen. “You can find out anything on the Internet.”

“Really.”

“Yup. Even found a playmate Sissy and I had as kid today. Lives in our village now, in fact.”

Mother made a soft sound.

Washing the dishes is one of the few tasks Mother allows me to do all on my own. Everything else she does herself. She even carried in the refrigerator by herself. The movers who brought it might have been impressed had they not run away on seeing her.

Silly of them, trying to run. It does no good at all.

By the time I was drying the call had faded out of my thoughts. Not Mother’s. She obsesses, sometimes. “It could be her, you know,” she called from the dinning room. “Your old mother.”

“I have no other mother but you.”

“Such a dutiful child,” she said. Her joints creaked as she stood. “So well trained. I had feared I would never see the day.”

I smiled as I put the dishes away.

“Still,” she said, “She might inspire… thoughts. Thoughts of being apart from me. Of being with her.”

“Didn’t even recognize her voice. Assuming it was her.”

“Still.”

To set her at easy, I left the kitchen to show off my smile. So regal was she then. So tall. Yet despite how still she stood, the light still flashed in her many glass eyes, blinding me for an instant.

More than a smile was needed. I said, “Would I really leave the one who raised me? For one who abandoned me?”

She considered a moment, then said “A fine point indeed.”

A flush hit me from her praise.

She turned then headed off to the next room, her wooden tail dragging loud against the floorboard.

I considered a moment, then said, “I might step out for a few hours after feeding Sissy. Visiting a friend.”

She didn’t stop walking. “So long as you remember to come back to me, is all that matters.”

Of course.

Sissy’s dinner went to her bowl on the porch. She never came close too either me or Mother. Kept to the woods, blue eyes wide with terror. Sometimes I waved, but not tonight. Tonight I left without even looking for her. The phone call had put me in foul humor, and I wanted a little fun. Not that I hadn’t intended on a visit anyways.

That dear childhood friend of Sissy and mine claimed not to remember me or her promise when I showed on her doorstep. I reminded her of it by and by. She’d replaced that peardrum of hers with a fine guitar, but that mattered little.. Either or I would have made her eat it. Every last bite. Before we finished, she begged to tell me the secret she kept hidden from us back then. But by now I.

Just.

Didn’t.

Care.

She really should have stayed in that nasty old village of hers, now shouldn’t she?

As I put my old friend where no one could find he, I decided to put a block on my phone. That should take care of my strange caller. And if it didn’t I’d ask Mother for ideas.

She is full of them, don’t you know.

All in all, it was a perfect Mother’s Day for both of us, despite the call. But then again, all days have been perfect ever since the New Mother came to stay.

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2 Replies to “The Old Mother – A Fiction”

  1. Interesting story – with a touch of Bradbury (“Homecoming”) that makes you want to read on till the end – looking for some sort of explanation. The only thing that I would say is missing is a more solid resolution involving the “childhood friend”. Maybe something that clarified her promise…

    1. With these short-shorts I’m working within a strict limit (750 words), so things like back story and the like aren’t the easiest to pull off. Couple that with this being a sequel of sorts to another work (Lucy Clifford’s The New Mother and I’m just thankful it works at all.

      A longer piece might have been able to make things clearer, but, again, the 750 word limit is what makes this exercise appealing.

      Glad you found it interesting!

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