As it is Friday, I am joining in on the Red Writing Hood meme over at the Red Dress Club. This week’s prompt was, “For Friday’s meme, we’d like to work on dialogue. Craft a piece of short fiction featuring the dialogue between two people arguing. Focus more on the spoken language and less on setting details. Think “Hills Like White Elephants” by Hemingway.” Ahh, Hemingway. I’m not quite there, but hope you enjoy it anyway.
Dan surveyed the room. Bed made, reading glasses and pen on top of the crossword puzzle on the nightstand, family pictures lined up on the low dresser, clothes neatly arranged in the closet, crocheted pillows piled up on the chair in the corner.
“Well, that looks like everything. I’m going to head out now. Do you have everything?” he asked.
“No,” came the reply.
“It looks like everything’s in order? What do you need?”
“My house,” she said.
Dan’s shoulders slumped. He scratched his temple and smoothed his graying brown hair.
“Look, Mom, we’ve been through this. You can’t live there anymore. This is your home now.”
“No. This is a room. A home has more than one room and there aren’t a bunch of old people wandering around in it,” she said.
“This is a nice place, Mom. You’ll make friends. You can watch Jeopardy with them. I saw some people playing cards out in the main area. You like cards. And, you don’t have to cook anymore. It’s really going to be nice once you get used to it.”
She crossed her arms and slouched in her chair, squinting her rheumy blue eyes at her son.
“I don’t want to get used to it. I don’t need any new friends and the food here stinks. No taste at all. You’d think they’d never heard of salt,” she said.
“I’m sure you can get some salt if you want,” Dan sighed.
“No I can’t!” she snapped. “They won’t give me any because of my blood pressure. If I want salt, I should be able to have salt. What’s the worst that’ll happen? I’ll die? Save you and your lovely wife some trouble.”
“Mom. We’ve been over this. You can’t live with us. It just wouldn’t work.”
“No, we haven’t. I wasn’t part of that decision. It makes no sense to spend all this money here when I could live with you for free. You have plenty of room in that big house of yours. Maggie never did like me. Cold hearted. That’s what you are, cold hearted. Abandoning me in this, this, place,” she said, waving her gnarled hand around the room.
“That’s enough! This has nothing to do with Maggie or me being cold hearted and you know it. You need more than we can provide for you at our home. This is the best place for you.”
“I am not a child. I am your mother and you owe me a little respect and consideration. There is no reason I couldn’t stay with you. No reason at all. Except you don’t want me. You just want to leave me here and forget all about me,” she turned her head away from him.
“Mom, you left a towel on top of the stove. You almost burned down the house. Look at your arm.” He picked up her left arm, bandaged from the elbow to wrist and moved it in front of her face. “You’re burned, Mom. Burned. We can’t have you at our home because it’s not safe, Mom. It’s not safe.”
He set her arm back down and kissed her on the top of her head.
“I have to go now, Mom,” he said. “I’ll call you tomorrow and see how you’re settling in. I’ll be back next weekend to visit. Okay?”
She didn’t look at him.
“Okay. I’m going then. See you next weekend. Love you.”
The door clicked closed as he left. She rubbed her arm, stood up, and grabbed the crossword, pen, and reading glasses. Then settled back into the chair.