Fiction Fridays… Momma’s Girl

She heard the blaring call of the alarm clock resounding in the dark recesses of her mind. The sun’s morning brightness broke through the window in cascades of light. Momma just wanted to get a few more winks in before rising for the day. She slung her groggy frame across the bed to snooze the alarm and pulled the warm handmade quilt up over her head.
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“Just a minute more.”
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The buzzer was sounding again when she remembered her oldest daughter had gone out late last night. Momma flew from her bed hustling out into the hall down to the front of the house. The floorboards were creaking as she went.
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She came up to the closed door noticing it stood a hair ajar. She pushed it open and found a mess of yesterday’s wardrobe scattered on the bed and floor. Her daughter’s purse lay open and cast aside while her cell phone wearily buzzed as a text message appeared in the window.
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Momma snatched up the phone. The message was from that boy, Frank. She’d left with him just before midnight. Momma had agreed they could go out for a drive. A drive does not last all night long. Where is that girl? She’s gone out late and come back in an hour most nights.
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“How could I’ve done that? I never sleep when my babies aren’t in their beds.” Momma rubbed her soaked forehead. “She might be 18 years old, but she’s gonna get herself an ear full of Momma when she pulls her tail home.”
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The frazzled woman waddled around to her other child’s room. She found her youngest girl curled snoozing like a Cheshire cat. She moved closer to the big ball of flannel-covered teenager sleeping in the middle of the hand-me-down bed. Momma smiled to herself. She edged in close and kissed the mop of hair that was covering her daughter’s face.
She snickered. “Must’ve been chasin’ rabbits again little girl.”
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Tanner roused for just a moment, “Momma?”
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“Go on back to sleep, honey-girl. I’m just checkin’ on my kids.” Momma closed the door and returned to the hallway.
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A small beam of light shown in the darkened corridor, it was coming from the bathroom. Momma hoisted her top-heavy frame over to the door and rapped three swift times. “Bella, you in there?”
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The muffled voice sounded wrung out through the door. “Momma?”
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“Who else you expectin’?”
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“Oh Momma, I’m sorry. We forgot time and ‘fore we knew it the sun was coming up and I had not got home.“ Alarm crept up Momma’s backbone as she listened intently to her daughter’s voice. “I’ll be out in a minute. Just give me some time to wash up.”
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“I’ll put some coffee on. You meet me in the kitchen, ya’ hear?”
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“Yes, Momma. I’ll be right out.”
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Momma’s voice filled the kitchen as the tune to an old hymn drifted along. She counted out five heaping scoops for the filter. Hasty hands slid the white paper cup into the coffe maker before she filled the glass pot with water. Once the water sloshed its way into the well she hit the on switch and pulled out her tired old copy of the King James Bible. Her trembling hands fished a small, wire-rimmed pair of reading glasses from the dry sink next to her kitchen table. Trying to steady her nerves, she flipped on over to the book of Colossians and read aloud.
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“Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.” Momma chuckled to herself. “ God has no advice for Mommas who are provoked by their children. Um-hmmm.”
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She pulled two worn white coffee mugs from the cupboard and sat them by the brewing pot. Her rotund frame seemed to scuttle around the quaint kitchen on autopilot as she pulled a loaf of bread from a wooden box next to the sink. She added a yellow tub of margarine from the ancient white refrigerator and let her fingers dance across a worn black and white picture of Fredrick.
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“Oh Freddie-baby, where are you when I need my man to help me with these kids?”
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She caught two tears as they escaped her eyes. Her long, tapered fingers deposited the moisture on the shirttail of her pajamas.
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“Lord, give me strength. Your Word says You’re the Father to the fatherless and a husband to widows… And I need ya’ this mornin’. Bella done gone off and laid herself out all night, Lord, and I don’t know what to do. Trouble’s afoot God and we don’t need no trouble in this house. Help me Lord. I need ya’. In Jesus’ sweet, sweet name, Amen.”
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Momma’s eyes opened and saw Bella’s downcast face. “Baby girl?”
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“Yes, Momma?”
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“You want some toast?”
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“Will you put a little sugar on it like when we was little?”
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“I will, baby. Now sit on down. I have to go open up the cafe in an hour, but we need to talk.”
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“I know, Momma.”
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“Um-hmmm.”
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Momma slathered a generous helping of Parkay on two slices of bread and laid them on a baking sheet. She sprinkled a handful of sugar on each slice and turned the oven dial to broil. Her plump round hands placed the pan in the oven and turned the dial on a hand timer sitting next to the stove.
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“Five more minutes and we’ll have us some toast.”
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“Thank you, Momma.”
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The elder woman walked over and sat down in the small white chair across from her daughter.
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“Baby what you doin’ layin’ out all night like that?”
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“We just forgot time, Momma. Honest. It won’t happen again.”
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“Ya’ know that’s right. You’ll be in this house by midnight ever’ night girl or you’ll find yourself another place to live. Ya’ got that?”
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“Momma!” Bella’s eyes welled with tears. That faint prickle of alarm began creeping up Momma’s arms and spine again. “It wasn’t like that… We… We… Just forgot time is all… I wouldn’t, M-Momma – “
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Bella’s head fell to the table top and she wept deep mournful sobs.
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Momma slid her chair up beside her daughter, “Bella, baby. What is it, tell ya’ Momma?”
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Bella lifted her head just a little, the wiry curls she inherited from her father poked out everywhere on her head. Momma caught a stiff odor coming off her daughter.
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“Is that cigarette smoke and liquor? Bella, what is goin’ on?”
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“Momma, Frank said we’d just goin’over to Paulies’ house for a minute. When we got there they’s havin’ a party. Frank was smokin’ and drinkin’, Momma. I couldn’t stop him. He passed out on Paulie’s couch and I had to wait there for him to come to. I didn’t know what to do, Momma.”
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“Bella,” Momma’s hand stroked her daughter’s back. “Frank ain’t the right boy for no girl of mine. Ya’ hear me? No girl of mine is going to be hangin’ out with a boy without the good sense enough not to drink.”
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“I know. He wasn’t like that before… I’m sorry, I lied to ya’ ‘bout the time… I knew you’d be mad.”
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“Um-hmm. Go on now and bring me that cellular phone.” Momma tapped a long red finger nail on the scarred white wooden table. “No phone for a week. And next time you come in at an ungodly hour – you better have you a place to stay, girlfriend. I’m tellin’ ya’ I’ll pack your bag and change the locks afore you can get back home.”
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The timer dinged pulling Momma away from the table. She used a hot pad to retrieve the baking sheet from the oven and slid two golden, crisped pieces of toast onto a saucer. The white chipped china was the last piece from the set she had received for her wedding twenty years before. She ran her finger along the notch in the rim before depositing the dish on the table in front of Bella.
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“Yes, ma’am.” Bella wiped the tears from her eyes. “I’m sorry, Momma. I wish… well, I don’t know what I wish. I love you, Momma.”
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Momma scuttled back to the counter pouring two cups of hot coffee before answering her daughter. Her resolve was to remain stern, but Momma’s heart melted.
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“I love you, too, sugar pie. You go on to bed and get you some sleep. What time you comin’ in to the cafe this evenin’?”
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“Five-thirty. Lydia is coming by to pick me up early, we’re going out to dinner before work.”
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“Okay, honey. I’ll see you tonight. Make sure Tanner does her chores, you too. I got to get me a shower.”
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Momma waddled off toward her bedroom, the old floorboards creaking underneath the soft thud of her feet.
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“Thank Ya’, Jesus, for bringing my baby home.”

5 thoughts on “Fiction Fridays… Momma’s Girl

  1. Welcome to Friday Fiction!
    This is wonderful. Your descriptions and dialect and storyline are so compelling. What a great job you did with atmosphere especially here. Excellent.

  2. Oh my goodness, how I loved this story. Your voice is outstanding, and it sets such a great example for mothers everywhere. I also enjoyed the bits of humor sprinkled into a serious slice of life. Well done. Masterfully written.

  3. Wonderful, Michelle! So rich and full of detail–I could very easily see it! The dialect was perfect, too.

    I’m so glad you joined us for Fiction Friday and hope you continue to!! (invite your critique cicrle! *grin*) …and thank you for your thoughtful comment! I’m NOT a kid person either, but I have 5 kids and I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up 5 more if it meant getting them to VBS!! LoL. I agree with you–you can work with kids without being a kid person!
    Have a great weekend!

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