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Free Read: Mother Grows Up by Roxanne Crouse #shortstory #freeread

September 15, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Mother Grows Up

by Roxanne Crouse

Monica pulled off the road into the grass and turned off the car. She took in a deep breath and glanced over at her son, Sid. She smiled at him as he glared at her from the corner of his eye. Looking in his cold blue eyes was like drowning in arctic waters. What could she do to warm those waters again? His coldness wore her down with every passing day. Her plan to have fun with him at the Earth Day celebration probably wouldn’t make a dent, but she was out of ideas.

Cars lined the road stretching across the entire length of the park. She watched as families held hands and laughed on their way to the event. They looked so happy, content. She wanted the same happiness for her little family, but she hadn’t felt it in a while now, not since Sid hit puberty. He locked himself in his room and never came out. She had no idea what was going on in his life anymore. 

The hill blocked her view of the celebration, but she could see and hear the little red train running. Her son used to beg to ride the train every year, but not anymore. Last year, he scoffed at the red contraption. She chalked it up to him being in a bad mood that day.  

Without saying a word, she opened the car door and got out. The cold, spring air brushed against Monica’s skin, sending shivers through her body. She tucked her hands into her arms glad she wore a sweater. Sid had on a thin, long-sleeve shirt and started to grumble as he got out of the car.

“It’s too cold, ma. I don’t want to go, let’s leave.” His face tightened, and impatience dripped from his entire body. He stomped off, bent over like a troll, and appeared just as grumpy.

“I told you to put on a jacket. We haven’t even seen anything yet. Why do you want to leave?” The Earth Day event appeared in front of them as Monica trotted along to keep up with Sid’s fast pace. They came every year and Sid always loved it, at least he used to love the celebration.

An assortment of vendors had set up along the park path, and Monica read a big sign that said, funnel cakes, at the end of the row. “Look, funnel cakes, you like funnel cakes.” She smiled again at Sid, but he didn’t return the affection. His body crumpled together even more as he tried to hide himself from the world.    

“I don’t want to go here. It looks stupid!” he said and stopped in the middle of the path to sulk. The crowd pushed by him oblivious to his tantrum.  

“Come on, Sid, give it a chance. We haven’t even seen anything yet. Let’s at least walk through and see what’s here before we leave,” she said. She continued to walk toward the booths knowing Sid would follow whether he wanted to or not.

Monica had hoped for a more impressive event. Instead of an Earth Day celebration, the park looked more like a big fat consumerism party. The booths all sold items like jewelry, food, books, nothing related to helping the earth. Everyone ate food and dropped litter on the ground. The irony. She had hoped everyone would be cleaning the park, not trashing it even more. Some volunteer work would have done Sid some good. His new self- centered attitude disturbed her. Monica sighed and continued searching for a path through the booths.

“You don’t see anything interesting at all?” she asked, glancing behind at Sid, who fell further back.

“No,” he said and scowled at her. He crossed his arms tightly around his chest and dropped his head down hiding his face.

“Look down there. They have funnel cakes. You don’t even want a funnel cake?”

“No,” he said under his breath. “You already asked me that!” Monica found a gap and made her way to the road where the crowd of people and booths lined up one after another. She glided through the crowd glancing at each of the tables as she passed searching for something, anything Sid might like. The crowd of people swelled around her. Monica glanced back to make sure Sid still followed behind. He pushed his way through the sea of arms and legs letting them bounce against him as he continued forward. She maneuvered her way to the end of the path where the funnel cake booth waited, and slowed to let Sid catch up.

“Are you sure you don’t want a funnel cake?” She stopped in front of the booth. The line stretched all the way back to the bathrooms like a meandering snake. Hopefully, his answer wouldn’t change now. She didn’t feel like waiting in the long line.

“Yes, I’m sure,” he grumbled at her side hiding his face against her shirt. She put her arm around him and started leading him back toward the car. Well, that was a short, pointless trip.

“What’s your problem Sid? You used to love going to stuff like this.” She squeezed him tight to protect him from the cold. Why didn’t he listen when she told him to wear a coat? He never listened to her anymore.

Monica stopped in front of some kids playing with a giant Earth ball, tossing the planet back and forth to each other, laughing and running. “Look at that! Why don’t you play with them for a while? It will warm you up.” She jostled him a bit against her side and ruffled his blond hair. He poked his head out from under her arm. His cheeks reddened, and his eyes narrowed. He pulled away from her, crossed his arms, and walked faster to the car.  

“Are you crazy mom!” he yelled back at her. “They’re way too young for me. Can we please go now?” He marched ahead of her straight to the car never looking back.  

After the Earth Day disaster, Monica drove to the public library. She heard a writer’s celebration was being held today and wanted to check it out. She also hoped to expose Sid to something new besides video games. They walked into the children’s Library entrance and Sid stopped at the door.

A group of young children gathered around a woman dressed as the Easter bunny. The woman read from a book to the children. They all seemed mesmerized by her as she continued reading in a high-pitched friendly voice.

“Mom! Why do you keep dragging me to all this kiddy stuff? I’m not five anymore.” His eyes burned with anger evaporating the cold sea that occupied them before.  

“We’re just walking through the kid section. We’re not staying here. We’re going upstairs. There’s supposed to be a lot of authors here today. I wanted to check it out,” she said and searched around for the stairs leading out of the children’s section before Sid had a meltdown.

“They’re over there mom. Are you blind?” he said, guessing she searched for the stairs.

“You don’t have to be snotty about it. What’s gotten into you today?” She climbed the stairs, hearing Sid’s stomping footsteps behind her. She sighed, and continued until she reached the next level. All she wanted was to spend time with him. Why did he have to act like this? She should have left him at home with his games.

As soon as she opened the stairwell door, another crowd of people appeared, filling the main floor of the library. Loud conversations drifted around the long tables hugging the walls with authors displaying their books. They smiled at fans and signed their names. Monica didn’t recognize any of the writers. Booths for some of the local colleges intertwined with the author tables. She hesitated in front of the Mountain State University booth. She wanted to ask if they had a graphic-design program yet, but Sid started huffing with impatient breathing behind her.

“Why are we at a bookstore?” he asked and crossed his arms in front of him.

“This isn’t a bookstore. This is a library like you have at school,” she said, surprised, “I thought we would get a library card while we’re here so we can save money. They might have that book series you like, and you can check them out instead of spending your money on it.”

“But mom, I want to be able to keep the books. I don’t want to give them back!”

She sighed. Apparently, he planned to fight her on everything today. She walked over to the main counter and searched for a schedule of events. She didn’t see one, and turned to leave.

“Do you need help, miss?” A man’s voice came from behind. She turned and saw a man about forty or so with a friendly smile. She stumbled for a moment, trying to remember why she came.

“Can I get a library card?” Monica finally managed to say.

“Why sure, that’s why I’m here.” The man’s smile brightened, and friendliness oozed off him. The man even brightened up Mr. Grumpy Pants Sid’s face. “Would you like a library card too, young man?”  

“No thank you,” Sid returned softly, shifting his body awkwardly. Sid moved closer to the counter next to Monica and grabbed her arm. His body relaxed, and the stubbornness melted from his stiff frame.  

“Here you go, mam, just fill this out, and we’ll get you in the system.” The man winked at Sid. “If you change your mind, your mom can check books out for you, or you can still sign up for your own card.”

 Warmth lit Sid’s face as he smiled at the man. Monica hardly saw that brightness anymore. Sid reserved it for strangers now. Her heart sank in her chest as she realized he was a teen. The beautiful little boy full of love and hope for her was gone. He’d never want to spend time with her the way they used to ever again. He belonged to the adult world now, not her.  

She patted his head and immediately his cheeks turned red. She quickly removed her hand and smiled apologetically at him. She understood now. She had to change. Letting go would be hard, but she could do it.


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