“Yes. I see. Thank you, Jane.”
Mildred Beck stood on the orange, shag carpet, the telephone receiver hanging loosely from her right hand.
“Mom?” a little boy’s voice asked. “Who was it?”
Mildred blinked. Sighing, she replaced the receiver and headed into the kitchen. “Oh, just Devon’s mom,” she replied absently.
She walked over to the counter, grabbed a dish towel, and began tackling the pile of dishes in the sink. The little boy perched on the stool looked up at her, and Mildred smiled warmly.
“What did you go for fun today, Olly?” she asked.
“I caught a snake in the garden and then Devon and I caught some turtles. One was really big and tried to bite me, but I was too quick,” he said, grinning.
“You two were alone?”
“By the river?”
Hanging his head, Olly revealed the answer to his mother’s question.
“I see. Now, Olly,” she began. The boy let out a tiny sniffle and his mother paused. Tears were brimming in his soft, brown eyes. Not a living soul could have scolded such a face. Instead, she said, “Would you like a treat?”
He nodded intently, causing Mildred to laugh aloud.
“It’s your favourite,” she hinted.
“A sundae? With chocolate sauce?”
His mother nodded, stifling a smile.
“Yes, please!” he said.
“Topped with a cherry,” she said, winking.
As Mildred fussed over the ice cream, she continued to ask a few more questions about how Olly’s day had been. As in his typical fashion, Olly inundated his mother with an exact re-telling of the day’s events. In his mother’s eyes no detail could ever be too minute. She laughed as he regaled her with stories of bullfrogs, buried treasure, magical beasts and girls with cooties. Such an imagination for an 8-year-old!
Olly set down his spoon, his sundae only half-eaten.
“Are you feeling alright, Olly?”
“Ya. Just a little cold,” he said, shivering slightly.
Mildred went and retrieved an afghan blanket from the back of the couch. Wrapping its bright colours around him, she held him tight for a moment and kissed the top of his head.
“Mom?” he asked.
“I don’t think I want anymore. I’m not hungry.”
“That’s okay. Whatever you want, dear.”
A knock on the door interrupted their quiet moment. Mildred went to the door, stopping in the hall to check her reflection. She peered through the peep hole and spied Cheryl Clarke standing there, a foil-wrapped casserole dish, in her hands.
Opening the door, Mildred was practically knocked over as Cheryl rushed in, mascara running. She set the dish on the side table and wrapped her arms tightly around her neighbour.
“Oh, oh, oh,’ she sobbed. “Millie, I just can’t believe it! Jane just told me. So young. Whatever you need— no matter what, I am here.”
Mildred glanced toward the kitchen where a puddle of water shone on the floor, above it an ice cream sundae lay abandoned on the counter.
“Thanks, Cheryl,” she said, pressing her tear-soaked face against her friend’s shoulder.
Pushcart Prize nominee, Blaise Langlois, lives in small town Ontario. You will usually find her feverishly scratching out ideas just after midnight. Her poetry and fiction have been published by: Space and Time Magazine, Black Spot Books, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Eerie River Publishing, Black Hare Press, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association and more. Check out where to find her work at: www.ravenfictionca.wordpress.com