Cocktails To Go
Mommy liked rounds of cards with boys. Two nights a week, she’d set up in her parlor, get several other ladies, and play her games. Aunt Bertie always put me to bed early, those nights. She had to play, too. Mommy’s rules.
I snuck down there. One time. Late. I wondered whether she played cards with boys different from the way she played them with me.
Sometimes, Mommy or Aunt Bertie played Go Fish with me, or Old Maid. Mommy even let me yell when I told her to go fish. I got so excited when I was winning. Like it was a way to beat her. She’d smile and draw her card and tell me to never forget what it felt like to be the underdog. Acting the underdog would get me far in life.
I didn’t understand, but in her Mommy way, she didn’t explain. She just kept on playing the game.
One day, I rummaged through her parlor desk, looking for a deck of cards to play solitaire. The name meant it was a card game I could play alone, and since I was left on my own so much of the time, I thought it would be good to learn.
I opened a drawer, the one I saw her store her boy cards in, and I found a deck of me. Pictures of my face on every card with scribblings and notes on the number sides. I was younger in the picture, but I remembered posing for it. Mommy made a big deal out of how I looked that day.
I stacked them up and took them to Aunt Bertie, back in the kitchen. I sorted them out on the table and asked her why she and Mommy played with cards that had pictures of me.
She scooped them into her hands and stacked them back together, really neat. “Don’t ask me about these cards again. Ever. I mean what I’m saying, child. Lawsy mercy. I need a cocktail to go.” Her hands were shaking when she left me to take them back to Mommy’s desk. To put them back just like I found them.
Welcome to Mommy Dearest, a series of fiction. If this is your first visit to the series, please click here to read the first installment and go here for the second installment. Thanks for your feedback on fiction posts. Your thoughts will help me make a believable character.