28 Mar

Emilia gently closed the albums and placed them back in the cabinet in the dining room. Before going upstairs to her bedroom she checked the lock on the door and turned off all the lights. Then she climed the stairs, one at a time, careful not to irritate her knees, inflamed with arthritis. In her room, she looked to where her husband once was, on the left side of the bed. Now there was only a framed photograph of him on the nightstand. She slipped into her pajamas, ones she’d had for years. She got into her empty bed and turned off the lamp, next to the picture.

“Good night my darling,” she whispered.

She awoke in the morning to the smell and sound of percolating coffee.

“Hey mom!”

Sam? Thought Emilia groggily. She slid into her slippers, wrapped her housecoat around her thin body and plodded down the stairs.

“Good morning sleepy-head.”

“Shouldn’t you be at school?”

“Class got cancelled. Campos riots or something or other. Anyways I thought I’d stop over. Here.”

Sam handed her mother the steaming cup of coffee, that perfect caramel color, with just the right amount of cream.


Emilia studied her daughter, who was now busily banging around in the kitchen.

“Where’s the pancake mix?”

“Second cabinet from the right, on the bottom.”

“And why did you move it?”

“I needed some change.”

“So you move pancake mix?”

“Sure, why not?”

“Better than nothing I guess. Ahhha! Here it is.”

Sam jumped down from the stool and began fumbling with the box. Soon she had a hot griddle on the stove and was whisking out the lumps in the pancake mix.

Emilia watched as her daughter spooned out little round pancakes onto the griddle.

“So yeah there was like this announcement through email that all morning classes were cancelled because of this fanatic that had a gun or something. Said he was against the war. Creepy, right?”

Sam flipped the pancakes expertly, moments after little bubbles appeared on the mix.

“I remember the same thing when I was in school, except it was the Vietnam not the Iraq War.”

I taught her well, mused Emilia, as she watched her cook. Sam slipped the spatula underneath the pancakes and one by one, slapped them onto a plate. She set them down on the kitchen table.

“Come on mom, let’s eat. I’m starved.”

Sam, her Sam, that defiant little girl who went into time-out more times than she would ever be able to count, who got grounded constantly and could never tell a good lie. Now they both sat across the table from each-other, with a plate of pancakes between them. Sam, with her dark brown dreadlocks and bandana, her ear piercings lining the ridge of her ears and her clothing, only ever from the Salvation Army. But she was the only one who would ever know her as her daughter, the girl who climbed trees and sold chives to the neighbors to make money.

“Mom, I asked my professor the other day if you would come in and speak about painting, just for one class. I said you’d love to do it. You would love to, wouldn’t you?”

Emila dropped her fork onto her plate.

“You did what?”

“Mom, seriously, do you know there’s kids in my class who like freak when they find out I’m related to you? Do you even know how much it would mean to them if you came in? I know you don’t really like to and everything, but maybe just this once?”

“How do you do those anyway?”


“Those dreadlocks.”

“You’re changing the subject, mom. Why, do you want the look?”

“Let me think about it.”

“About what, the dreadlocks or the speaking?”


“I think they might look nice on you. Do you want the last one?”

“No, you need it. You’re too skinny.”

Sam plunged her fork into the last pancake and drenched it with maple syrup and butter. Emilia always marvelled at her appetite, and how she managed to remain so skinny, even into her twenties.

“Promise you’ll think about it?

“I will.”

Together they washed the dishes in the tiny kitchen. Sam kissed her mother on the cheek and said goodbye. Emilia heard the front door slam, the car ignition and then only the sounds of an empty house, filled only with memories.

And she crawled back into bed.


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