A brief introduction – News stories, photographs, and editorial/opinion pieces are all very well, but sometimes …perhaps a story should be just that–a story.
In this second year of the pandemic, we all need some fun. And fiction is fun. Ms. Murphy writes short fiction from prompts that provide focus. These will be included in every story so you know she is not just wool-gathering.
(Although perhaps she will write about that, one of these days…)
by Jessica Murphy
FOUR LETTER F WORD
She stomped into the kitchen. When a woman who usually glides suddenly stomps…well, you pay attention.
“Welcome home, and what is it, honey?” I asked, looking up from the stove.
She flounced onto one of the stools at the kitchen island, and leaned dramatically against its arm rests and padded back.
“You will never guess,” she said. “That son of yours said the F word to me. The four letter F word.”
“The little bas…… uh, bad boy.”
But I had to think to myself: 1) that he was her son also, and 2) that I had often been the recipient of a four letter F word from her. But maybe only because my name is Ford. It’s always, ‘Ford, get me this,’ or ‘Why haven’t you done whatever, Ford’. I get a lot of the four letter F word. But I presumed the one she had got was not ‘Ford’.
“What did Harris say?” I asked.
She tapped her fingernails on the quartz of the island counter. “Do I have to die for a drink, here?”
“It’s not yet five,” I said, trying to sound supportive but unyielding.
She glared. “So what’s that mean? In the rest of Canada and in fifteen other time zones it is after five. So I get punished for living here? I need wine. Now.”
Who am I to argue with her science. I poured her a chilled Chardonnay,–unoaked, of course–and placed the glass on a napkin in front of her, as I bent to kiss her cheek.
“Welcome home, darling,” I said, in my cheeriest voice.
Miriam had been away on a business trip, and had asked particularly that Harris pick her up at the airport. In order to give them time to talk, she had told me. Harris had complied, and even now, I could hear him carrying her luggage upstairs. He was a good boy. Or so I had always thought. If he had taken to swearing at his mother that was news to me.
Miriam is an A-type personality, A as in attorney in her case. She is well respected in legal circles, on her way to a judgeship or a political nomination. Always driven, always tense, and always concerned for Harris. I smiled, just thinking about him. Harris is seventeen, soon to graduate from high school with good marks. He is the school rugby team captain, a basketball guard, and a member of the ‘Young Scientists’ club. He also debates, — on the senior team, not with his mother.
Miriam and I met at university. I was from the orchard country of Niagara, but she was an even rarer commodity at York University, a farmer’s daughter from Saskatchewan. But she certainly belonged at college. She went on to studies at Osgoode Hall, and I continued on with my economics degree from the University of Toronto. We married during our sixth year, one year short of her law degree, me one year away from certification as an actuary. Because I was given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with a start-up tech firm in Vancouver she took her articles with a downtown Vancouver law firm, and became a member of the B.C. bar. Life was good. Her firm fast-tracked her to partner. In the meantime, my start-up went global, and I was in at the start. My ownership share in a very lucrative business means that now neither of us has to work. But she does, of course.
She sips the wine. “What smells so good, darling?” she asks, her voice calmer now.
“Eggplant Parmigiana. Some of Harris’ eggplant and tomatoes. And basil, of course,” I say proudly. Our son has a very productive garden on the rear of our property. It rather embarrasses Miriam, so he keeps it hidden behind a shrubbery. But he does seem to have a knack.
“You know we have discussed Harris going to UT?” Miriam continues. “Well, I thought the ride back from VCR would give us some alone time to finalize this.”
I look at her, with some love and a lot of consternation. “But Harris has not agreed to go to Toronto. And UBC has just as good a reputation.”
“Ooh,” she sighs. “You don’t know the worst. Now even UBC is out. Harris told me that his last visit with his grandparents in Yorkton made his mind up for him.” (She was referring to her own parents.) “They still grow various grains, as you know.” (I knew they still owned and operated some twenty sections of wheat, soy and rape, on very productive acres.) “Well, there we were discussing his future when he used the F word.”
She drained the rest of her wine, and knocked the bottom of the glass on the quartz, a signal for more.
“After all we can do for him, the people we can introduce him to, the life we can give him. And all he wants is to farm.”