CREATIVE CONTENT: Brewing
“I’m done,” said Charlotte, hurling her suitcase down the stairs, bras and socks pouring out.
“You’re not leaving,” said Mary.
“What? Now you want to talk about it!?”
“No. You’re not leaving because it’s pouring outside and your windshield wipers are broken,” she said.
“Mom,” pleaded Charlotte. “How could you not tell me?”
“I did,” said Mary.
“No, you told me he had a heart attack. That he was in the hospital.”
“I never got to tell him goodbye,” said Charlotte.
Mary gestured to the urn. “You can tell him now,” she said.
“What is wrong with you?” she asked, pacing down the stairs. “No funeral? No closure? Just cremate him and move on without telling me?”
“It was my decision,” she said. “I’m the wife.”
“I’m the daughter,” said Charlotte.
“You haven’t spoken to him in years. You haven’t even visited.”
“After all the shit he put us through?”
“I don’t know,” said Mary.
They slumped into the kitchen chairs, curled around hot cups of tea.
“He tied me to a tree,” said Charlotte.
“Don’t,” said Mary.
“He tied me to a tree and said we would play a game. He beat me with a broom, laughing. And you told me it was my own damn fault for being stupid enough to let someone tie me up.”
“I know,” she said.
“You would make me sit in the parking lot of the bar,” continued Charlotte, “while you walked in the front to find him, just in case he saw you coming and ran out the back with another woman.” Charlotte looked into her cup, tea rippling in the thunder. “You always chose him over me,” she said.
“I’m sorry,” said Mary.
“He should be the one apologizing,” said Charlotte, looking to the urn. “Asshole got off easy.”
“He broke my hand,” said Mary. “We were arguing in the tool shed over whether to build your crib. He said we didn’t have the money to buy one; I said homemade wasn’t safe. He slammed the door when I was still in it. More than once.”
Charlotte got up, topped off the tea. “How long was he in the hospital?” she asked.
“Not long. I called you minutes after he had the heart attack. He passed quickly. I knew it would be days before you could fly in.”
“I want his hat, the blue one,” she said. “A keepsake.”
Mary shifted in her chair. “I threw it away,” she said.
“I threw away everything, all of his stuff.”
“Mom … ”
Charlotte clinked her spoon on her cup, a little too hard. “Why wouldn’t you leave him?” she asked, looking again at the vase on the mantle. Her father.
“Our first car together was a Ford Pinto,” said Mary. “The hood stuck out so far, one of us always had to direct the other as we pulled into the garage. He jumped out every time, holding his arms out like he could control the car with his mind. He’d have his giant, goofy smile on and yell, ‘I am Superman! Come to me!’”
“Remember when I graduated?” asked Charlotte. “It was community college, and I barely passed my classes. But he was so proud that he told everyone I was valedictorian.”
“He used to draw cartoons of the two of us,” said Mary. “He’d leave them all over for me to find. On the bathroom sink, in the car. Your dad knew how to make me laugh.”
They smiled into their cups.
“So how are we supposed to remember him?” asked Charlotte.
They looked at his urn — the golden statue on the fireplace mantel, the metallic baggage on the shelf — and raised their teacups. Brewing.
Nicole Morfitt is a senior English major at the university. Her work has been published in “Caesura Literary Magazine” and “The Main Street Journal.”