Sunday morning began with Mrs. Huntington searching the house for anyone. She was in her blue nightgown creeping down the hallway as the first light of day made a blue cast on the walls. It was still too dark to make out her features. She went into Nicky and Amy’s room and bent down right over Nicky’s face.
At about a foot away, she yelled, “Nicky? Is that you?”
He jerked awake. “Yeah, mom. What do you need?”
“Are you getting up?”
“Uh, yeah. Hold on. I’ll be right there.”
She sat on the end of the bed and folded her hands. Holding on, presumably. It was 7:30. The days of lazy weekends were over. Amy threw the blanket over her head.
“Mom, go on and sit in the living room. I’ll be right there,” he said.
After she left he groaned and rolled over throwing his arm around Amy.
“She never was a morning person. Now at the first ray of dawn, she springs out of bed,” he said.
“Get her started and I’ll come and relieve you,” Amy offered.
There’s a whole morning routine to which must be adhered. She sits at the kitchen table and watches. He lets the dogs out, feeds the cat, and gets her water in a purple crystal goblet to which she is partial. He has to get up promptly when she does and begin the day. If she is left alone, she will grab any dirty cup in the sink and get herself water and then she will try to take her medicine, except that she doesn’t know what her medicine is. So she will take anything she can find.
He can’t seem annoyed for having been woken up. She is always searching his face for signs that she is putting him out. She believes that if he got mad at her, he would send her to a nursing home. The bad kind of nursing home. He has repeatedly told her that he won’t, but she is always afraid. So he cheerfully asks her how she slept.
“Oh, I slept good. I always do.” She smiled. “Is Amy still in the bed?”
“Yeah, mom. It’s early.” His cheerful tone was a bit forced.
Her smile turned stale. “You can go back to bed.”
“That’s alright. It’s okay.”
She watched him carefully. He put out bowls and the cereal box. He made them coffee and got out the milk. He sat down and poured cereal in her bowl. She picked up her coffee cup and started to pour it in her cereal and he gently stopped her.
“Hey, mom, how about I pour you some milk?” He reached for the milk and she shook her head being mad at herself and nodded.
As they finished their breakfast, Amy came in and sat down. Nicky slipped away to the bedroom to snooze a bit more. While he was in the bedroom, Mrs. Huntington asked Amy where he was about twice a minute.
Later that morning, Nicky had planned to take Amy and the kids to see the new Star Wars movie. Knowing his mom wouldn’t want to go, he asked his grown son Jaime to come and sit with her while they were gone. Jaime was twenty-three and lived on his own.
Before Jaime got there, Nicky asked his mom if she wanted to go in case she actually did. “Mom, I’m taking Amy and the kids to the Star Wars movie this afternoon. Do you want to go?”
“Oh, I can’t go to a movie.”
“Sure you can. If you want to go, I’ll get you there. It’ll be fun.”
“No. I don’t want to go.”
“Okay. Well, Jaime is coming over so you won’t be by yourself.”
As though a shadow passed over her, her tone changed. “Well, I am going to have to find somewhere else to live.”
Sensing a shift, he stopped and studied her. “Why would you want to do that?”
“Well, I know when I’m a bother.” She huffed and grimaced. She was one foot on a banana peel on the edge of spinning out.
He knew if she became agitated, it would be impossible for them to go.”You’re not a bother at all, mom.”
Competing emotions tore at him. His kids were excited to get to go to the movies. He wanted to do something with them. On the other hand, he felt a great responsibility to his mom. Weighing his choice, he decided his mom would be safe with Jaime and his kids deserved his attention. He did try one more time to include her.
“Mom, are you sure you won’t come? Why don’t you come with us and enjoy the movie?”
She seemed pleased to be asked, but turned him down again. They left quickly hoping it was on a high note.
Jaime sat next to her in the recliner and pulled out his laptop. She watched him as she rocked back and forth in short motions by the action of one foot on the carpet. The other was tucked under her leg in the seat. She pursed her lips and rested her chin on her hand. He opened the lap top and logged in. He started typing a web address into the browser and she let loose.
“Jaime, do you want me to tell you what they did to me?”
“What mamaw?” he asked in a surprised voice.
She took a breath before starting, “Well let me tell you! How would you like it if they just got up one morning and snuck out of the house to go to the movies and didn’t even tell you where they were going?”
He looked at her trying to make sense of what she said. The vein in the middle of her forehead was bulging. Her blood pressure was up. He could see her breathing had sped up.
She continued, “I might have liked to go, too.”
“Uh,” he started, “I think they told you. And they just left a little while ago. You were up. It’s nearly lunch time. Do you want a sandwich?” His obvious attempt at a redirect floundered.
“Now Jaime! Do you know what you’re doing? Don’t you stand up for them. They knew what they were doing! I know when I’m a bother.”
“Uh, okay, well, I’m going to play my game. It’s Ruinscape. Do you want to see it?”
“What is it?” This threw her off. She was still short with him but it appeared she was forgetting what she was mad about.
He went to the web site and started playing. His character was a wizard in a long cloak. Like most computer games, you have to do some kind of work of sorts to gain coins or supplies. His character was chopping wood.
Mrs. Huntington watched Jaime move his character around to trees and start chopping them into logs.
After a few minutes, her breathing slowed. She was fixated on the little man on the screen moving from tree to tree. “Jaime, what is that? What’s he doing?”
“That’s me, mamaw. I’m chopping wood to earn money.”
“Is that your job? Do you work on your computer?”
Jaime chuckled. “I don’t make real money. I wish it were that easy.”
“Well, why are you in a dress?”
At this he laughed out loud. “No, mamaw. It’s not a dress. I’m a wizard. That’s my cloak. It’s pretty cool.”
“I think that’s a good job, Jaime.”
She watched him chop wood for an hour fascinated with the movements of the little man in a dress. Then out of the blue, she remembered.
“Where did Nicky and Amy go?”
“They went to the movies.”
“Jaime, now when they get back you tell them how much I enjoyed that movie! You know I would have liked to have gone. They just snuck out this morning before I woke up and didn’t take me. So you just tell them when they get back how much I enjoyed that movie!”