(I know, I know, I should follow my own advice...)
For The Scheherazade Project.
Patience was losing hers. She’d been sitting in the museum gallery for nearly an hour. Waiting for Connie to bring their son. The old mommy switcheroo, every other weekend. Every other weekend for the last 7 months. 15 days she’s been allowed to see Jacob. Every day she was without him she felt echoey and washed out. Since the day she had come home from work to find her house empty of Constance and Jacob, nothing had seemed solid or Technicolor. People were stretched and distorted into grayscale blurs. Their words coming disjointed and estranged from their lips. Except for the words of her lawyer.
And now everything was going to change. Even though Connie had refused to let Patty know where she was living, Patty knew that the papers had been served last week. The judge’s orders. Joint custody. She’d had three angry phone calls from Connie since. The final one just last night. Patty wasn’t going to back down, this week she would get to bring Jacob home, make him a sandwich, help him settle in, read him a book, peek in on him while he slept. She hoped he remembered his old room, still liked his toys. If they got home soon enough there would be time to go back out to the store and get him something new.
Patty looked at her watch again, sighed, and stood up from the bench. She walked to the sculpture opposite and pretended to study it. Really, she was trying to distract herself. Connie was frequently very late to these little switch offs. She seemed to derive pleasure in stealing even more minutes from Patty’s time with Jacob. Patty expected her to be late to this meeting, too. She expected Connie to arrive slowly, resentfully. She expected Jacob to be upset and without any of his things from Connie’s house. She expected Connie to expect to be able to talk her out of keeping him for her court-allotted two weeks. But she didn’t expect Connie to be over an hour late.
The museum was getting ready to close, the other people filtering out. Children’s screams out in the lobby were distorted by marble vacancies into sirens. Patience looked at the sculpture and saw her son’s body laid out on a highway. Someone zipped closed a jacket – the sound echoing in the near-empty gallery – and she heard a body bag closing over her son’s face. She started snapping her fingers. It was a nervous habit she thought she’d broken long ago. She looked at her watch. She wished again that Connie had a cell phone, or that she’d let Patty have the number if she did.
Her snapping fingers slipped into her pocket, fished out her cell phone. She scrolled to the entry under Jacob’s name and pushed “call” – half afraid Connie would still be there, sullenly refusing to honor the court orders, half afraid that the phone would ring and ring and ring. Patty was aware that the last group of tourists was leaving the gallery – fading from view as she focused her attention on the phone and it connected. “This number is no longer in service. If you feel you’ve reached this message in error, please check the number and dial again.”
Patty’s phone dropped from numb fingers and cracked on the marble floor.
(I don't know why on this blog the photo credit is so tiny. I didn't take the photo, it's a public photo on Flickr taken by elfis gallery. Click on the picture to go see more of his stuff.)