Part 1 of the story is here.
Part 2 of the story is here.
Outside, storm clouds had been gathering, shutting down the light. Rain began flinging itself against the plate glass window. Cade’s mother and Amy hurried through the front door. Cade stiffened. “What are they doing here?” Shaking their umbrellas and closing them with a snap, they came toward the two empty chairs pushed half way under the table.
“Coffee?” Jim asked. The women wanted decaf and while Cade went for two cups, Jim invited them to sit.
“Things are getting out of hand,” Jacqueline declared. Chair legs scraped against the pine floor. Jim watched how the ceiling light played over her beaded purse.
“It’s early in the day for you to be out,” he said.
“Amy and Cade need to talk,” she said. “I brought her by.”
Jim didn’t like to draw when his ex-wife was present, so he closed the sketch book and folded his hands. Cade returned with the decaf, silent and uncertain.
“I like to stay in touch,” Jacqueline said, glancing sideways at her son and gesturing vaguely. “I didn’t know anything about all this between you and Amy.”
Cade set down the cups with studied precision.
“When I called, she was crying,” said Jacqueline. Amy, puffy about the eyes, had turned toward the plate glass window that trembled with each wet gust. Jim toyed with the corner of the sketch book. The wish to draw was an insistent pressure, almost as if random lines were striking the insides of his wrists; as if electric, shorted-out cross-hatching singed his fingertips.
“Amy’s shy,” said Jacqueline. “It’s hard for her to say what she means. The situation needs a nudge.”
“She can speak for herself,” said Cade, though Amy didn’t. Talking about her as if she weren’t there created strangeness at the table. Facing his mother, Cade finally broke the unnatural silence. “I’m here because I always have coffee with Dad on Saturday mornings,” he said. “Why are you here?”
“I’m here because you’re my son and I have your best interests at heart!”
“I shouldn’t have come,” said Amy, pushing herself to a standing position. Fumbling for her umbrella and shoulder bag, she looked like she might not be able to find her way out of the coffee shop.
“I’ll walk you to the door,” said Cade. They stopped near the window. In spite of his ex-wife’s presence, Jim opened his sketch book and began roughing in the two figures leaning toward each other.
“They’re good together,” Jacqueline said. “They owe it to themselves to work out their problems.”
Jim continued to draw.
“Look at them,” she said, as if he weren’t already looking. “They just need to be patient with each other. Patience is a virtue. I certainly could use more of it, but when there’s a way to fix a problem and it’s obvious, I don’t mind saying what I think. I’m practical. If someone is on the wrong track, I don’t mind jumping in and telling them so.” She sighed and hung her purse on the back of the chair. “I don’t know how to talk to Cade anymore,” she said. “I can’t be quiet and express myself through art the way you do. I have to talk.”
Jim watched Amy and Cade move outside under the canvas awning, its scalloped edges dripping rainwater all around them. He turned to a fresh page. (To be continued)
Copyright © 2022 Marlene Lee
All Rights Reserved
Marlene graduated from the Brooklyn College MFA program in 2010. Her short stories, essays, and poems have appeared in Calyx; The Christian Science Monitor; Descant; Indiana Review; Other Voices; Maverick Press/Armadillo; Orange County Illustrated; roger: an art and literary magazine; and Southern Humanities Review. She’s published five books with Holland House Books. Her author page can be seen at www.marleneLee.wordpress.com.
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