Word Count 445
By Anne Nassar
“Vivian pursued a variety of feminine pastimes.”
For the first time ever, Alek thought about his mother’s life.
His mother made macrame plant hangers. She constructed wreaths out of fake flowers and plastic pinecones. She painted ceramic tabletop holiday ornaments: Easter bunnies, jack-o’-lanterns, snowmen. She pressed flowers in between the pages of books. She did crossword puzzles and jigsaw puzzles. She played Pinochle with her lady friends.
“It was her beauty that initially attracted me to Vivian. But it was her joie de vivre that made me want to marry her. She was so enthusiastic about every little thing. She got so much out of being alive.”
His father had more to say, but he was choked up, and couldn’t go on. The priest stood up and clapped him on the shoulder, and led him to a chair.
Alek was for some reason reminded of the day when he’d come home early from school and found his mother sitting on the bathroom floor, crying. When he asked her what was wrong, she’d said, “I just don’t know what I’m here for. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.”
He thought she meant that she didn’t know why she was in the bathroom, and he was afraid she’d hit her head, or had a stroke.
“God has a plan for everyone. But I don’t know what he wants from me.”
Alek said, “You’re a good mom.”
“Oh, Alek, you’re a wonderful son. You deserve better than me.”
“You’re the best,” he said.
“I’m not,” she said, “a good mother sets a good example for her children. But look at me! I don’t contribute anything to society! I don’t do anything meaningful. I lead a silly, small life. You wouldn’t guess, but I’m an intelligent woman. It’s true: I have a master’s degree in Education. I taught school. But your father is so old fashioned! He insists that I stay home, and stew in my own juices.”
The sound of the priest’s booming voice brought him back to reality.
“In the name of the father, the son, the holy spirit, now and forever, amen.”
His mother had gone out sometime between nine, when Alek went to bed, and eleven, when his father got home. She had driven over the bridge and was headed east on 5S.
Where was she going? Alek wondered, to the store? To meet someone?
Between Herkimer and German Flatts, she had swerved into the left lane and hit another car, head on.
Was she trying to avoid a deer? Had she fallen asleep at the wheel?
He would never know, he realized.
He would never have any idea who his mother was.