Happy Mother’s Day
A deep midnight blue fades slowly into cerulean as the sun rises over the wall of trees behind the house occupied by the Johnsons. Mikey Johnson has yet to rise – the back of his head is buried in his pillow, his mouth is hanging open wider than the south end of the reservoir down the road, and the blankets from his wife’s side of the bed are keeping him nice and cozy. His wife Glauria is in the living room, standing by the sliding glass door and sipping her coffee to a teary-eyed view of the rising morning sun. Her eyes usually water in the morning, but this is not a usual day; not only is today Mother’s Day, but this is Glauria Johnson’s first Mother’s Day she’ll spend as a mother to only one boy.
Well, he’s not really a boy anymore. Jarome turned eighteen a good four years ago, and he stopped looking like a boy two years before that. Usually he and Mikey are the first ones to wake up in the Johnson house, as they are very much in touch with the primal human need to beat the sun in the morning – most carpenter types are – but Sunday is a day of rest, and rest the Johnson men will. All three of them, though only two are resting peacefully.
Mikey started the family business years before he started the family. M Johnson Home Improvement was Treeburg’s premier home improvement company for the better part of the last two decades, but as all good things must, that era came to an end. The quality of the work didn’t fall off like it does with so many manual laborers these days – it actually improved as the calendar flapped on, and they still get jobs sometimes – it’s just that everything is built now. Repair jobs occasionally pop up, but those are few and far in between, which isn’t the worst thing in the world, all things considered. Not the worst thing by far.
Every member of the Johnson family today plays a role in M Johnson Home Improvement – Mikey, the company’s titular M, is the bossman, obviously, and don’t you forget it; Jarome was the standard helper when he first started, but he quickly took over as the bossman’shelper after the previous one relieved himself of his position; and Glauria is more or less the behind the scenes of the business – she makes sure the government’s money counters don’t show up to dinner unannounced with empty coat pockets in need of new car keys to fill them. She also takes care of most customer interactions, as infrequent as they are, which she enjoys. Glauria’s always liked talking to other humans; Mikey and Jarome are more the strong and silent types.
The original guy who filled M Johnson Home Improvement’s bossman’s helper position (until he quit to get a job in a warehouse over in the industrial park) was named Owen. He was Mikey and Glauria’s first son, and he disappeared without a trace about… oh, a month ago today, actually. Well isn’t that a kick in the groin, this year’s Mother’s Day is the one-month anniversary of Glauria J’s being relieved of half of her motherhood. In other words, of Owen Johnson’s murder.
Well, it was never confirmed as a murder. Treeburg is, among other things, a very woodsy town, and Owen liked to go off in the woods when he was in a bad mood – which was often, my word was it often, he was such an angry boy – and one day after he got home from working in the warehouse he used to work at – after he got finished yelling at his dad from across their front yard, mind you – he ran off and never came back. There were search parties with dogs, helicopter sweeps, even some of the students from the woodshop classes Mikey teaches at the high school in the next town over came out to help look for Owen, but that all tapered off after a few weeks went by. No trace of the boy was ever found. Mikey still goes out there for an hour on most days to walk the trails Owen built for himself to walk, but like the essays the school makes him assign his students, he’s beginning to realize there’s no real sense in it. If Owen was going to be found, he would have been found already. Not many folks these days are equipped to survive out in the woods, especially not Owen Johnson.
Glauria used to go on the walks with Mikey, but she got to the point where she couldn’t handle it anymore. Being back there just reminded her of Owen. A lot reminds Glauria of Owen these days – seeing his car parked in the driveway, his closed door across the hall from Jarome’s room, looking out at all the rockstacks he built at the gap in the treeline across the backyard to mark the entrance to his trail system. This house on Fricker Drive was his home, he lived here once and he lives here no more, gone but not forgotten, and he left behind constant reminders of what he once was – one mother’s son. So to start this Mother’s Day, the first since Owen disappeared, Glauria watches as the sun peeks over the trees above the gateway to Owen’s arboretum through teary eyes, because she doesn’t know what else she can do.
Well, she has an idea of what to do, but she’s almost afraid to float it. Almost ashamed that it’s even come into her head, but it’s certainly there. It must be there for a rea–
Mikey wraps his arms around Glauria from behind and kisses her on the cheek. “Happy Mother’s Day, Glaur’.” He walks over to the kitchen and pours himself a cup of coffee, then joins her by the slider. They stand there in somber silence for more than a few minutes, long enough for Glauria’s coffee to go cold in its mug.
“Mikey…” she says in a whisper, quiet as a mouse.
“I think we need to sell this house.”
Hello Commons, this has been the first subchapter of the second story from Convenient Incidents, an anthology of fifteen interconnected short stories which revolve around a man by the name of Hilter Odolf Williamson.
Convenient Incidents is part of the Third Spiral, an anthology of sorts called The Here and Now which is comprised of stories told from the various planes of Existence.
Convenient Incidents is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.
I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.
If you like Convenient Incidents and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed copy of the book (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) copy from Amazon by clicking here.
Be well Commons~