Three-Minute Fiction
4:30 pm
Sun February 17, 2013

It's Not OK To Act This Way

Hi Mom, it's me, I guess you're out. I'm trying to follow this recipe and I was hoping you would know what I could substitute for a half cup of butter. I figure probably oil or something but it would be nice to know from someone who has first hand experience. I tried the Internet but Google results can be really wide-ranging and I never know which advice to consider. I remember when I was fourteen and I Googled "How to French braid hair" and there were more than three million results.

I remember all the other girls on the soccer team had their moms tie their hair in a French braid so that it would look good in the team pictures after we won a game. I could only figure out how to regular braid my hair and no matter how tight I tied it, my hair always fell out. I'll have to send you a picture sometime from my freshman year in high school. It will be obvious which girl I am, huge round glasses, frizzy hair and thick eyebrows, forever in the back because I was always the tallest. I started getting taller than everyone else when I was in third grade. It was awful. I always wanted to call you so we could go "back to school" shopping but Dad said you didn't have a phone. We actually had two phones so I just figured we could always give you one if you came over.

Anyway, I was also calling to ask if you knew how best to arrange a flowerbed? I'm married now and thought it might be nice to have a flower garden in the front. I thought if you had time we could go to the nursery and pick out a few plants that work well together. Then afterwards we could run by that one place, the shop on the corner by the park, and eat lunch. I would probably just order a spinach salad and a coke. What would you order? They have great soups; do you like soup? Did you ever get to finish college? Dad said you dropped out because you got pregnant. I did too. I know I should hate you for leaving me but I don't. I did for a long time but now I understand. You were forced to choose between your dreams or me. You were so beautiful in the picture I have of you; Dad said you were twenty-one. What an age to be free. I don't blame you for running away and leaving me. I want to run away too. Even though you're not here and you never were I feel your genes in me. I hear the ocean call to me in my sleep, as it called you. I smell the scent of the wild the same way you did. I understand why I couldn't come with you; I have a daughter now too. I think I will leave soon, too. I can't stop thinking about the life I will be heading towards. I will stay up until dawn with strangers I call friends. I will see the world in sunlight and shadows. I will marry the earth and give birth to art. I will be recognized and appreciated. I will remember what I've learned from you. I will remember to never look back. When my daughter is older, I know she will understand. I know she will be okay. Just like I am.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.