Calls in the evening always unpleasant things. Always, without exception.
Having only lived for fourteen years, it was probably a little early to be deciding that something had no exceptions at all. But it’s true today, Hope thought, looking at his mother’s back.
“No, no it’s alright. Don’t worry about it. We’re having fun just the two of us. Bowdam is a nice place. We’ve had no problems with the hotel, and the ocean is beautiful.”
It was his father on the phone. Hope knew it the moment the phone rang. And he could guess why his father was calling. After all, it was evening. He could see from the window beyond his mother’s shoulder that the day was fading.
“I... I see. I understand. That’s too bad...”
Bingo, Hope thought. He could tell from the way his mother’s voice sank that he was right. They called him in to work, he was too busy, he wouldn’t be able to leave tomorrow. That’s probably what he was saying.
This was supposed to be a vacation for the three of them. Ten days at a beach resort, staying in a condo. His mother had planned it half a year in advance. Just to have fun and relax, not to see anything in particular. Or that’s what she said. Let’s have fun, just the three of us. It’s been such a long time.
But he knew the real meaning behind his mother’s words. With her husband being so busy, and her son being at that difficult age, a “teenager”, they were growing farther and farther apart. She didn’t know what to do. So she probably thought that if they were somewhere different, somewhere that wasn’t at home, that they would finally have time to talk. Or at least, that’s what most people would think.
Hope hadn’t been looking forward to the vacation. He didn’t know what he’d have to say to his father, seeing each other for ten whole days. He had gotten irritated just thinking about it. So he had felt relieved when he heard his father had go on a business trip. He said he would meet up with them later, but Hope didn’t believe him. Probably at the last minute there would be a meeting he had to go to, he’d say someone important from Sanctum would be there, making excuses. It was always like that. No matter how small the promise, his father would always throw it away for his work.
“It’s okay, don’t worry about it. We don’t even have time to get bored there is so much to do.”
His mother forced her voice into a happier tone. Like always. He wanted to tell her that she didn’t have to try so hard to be happy. Whenever his father would break his promises, she never blamed him for it. She always made up reasons and excuses. Your father’s work is hard, she would say. He has a lot of responsibility. Important people in the Sanctum trust him. He’s working hard for everyone. It was so sad how she would never say a word against him. But no matter how much effort she would put into defending him, his father never had a word of thanks for her.
My father doesn’t care, Hope thought. About how nice she is to him... or about me.
He couldn’t be sure whether his mother really didn’t realize this, or if she was just pretending that she didn’t. It didn’t matter either way. My father is the one who’s wrong, Hope said to himself.
“Tomorrow? We’re going to Ewleede like we planned. Yes, they’ve already finished cleaning up after that accident.”
There had been a huge accident at the energy plant in Ewleede Canyon three days ago. Everything had been shut down in the uproar, and tours of the plant had been put on hold until today. They had just finished rebuilding, and they had let us know just a moment ago that they would be letting in visitors tomorrow.
“Everything will be fine. I mean the fal’Cie decided that it was safe, that should be good enough for taking a field trip right? You’re such a worrier.”
Like he would worry, Hope thought. Of course, he didn’t say so aloud. He knew that it would just make his mother sad. His head knew it, but his heart...
“He's not coming is he? Of course.” The harsh words slipped out of his mouth just as she hung up the phone.
“There’s nothing he can do about it. There was that accident in Ewleede you know, everyone inside Sanctum was in a panic about it, and that affected your father’s job too. Oh! But he said he’d be here in time for the fireworks festival.”
Again with the promises he’ll never keep. He should just not make them to begin with.
“Whatever, let’s not talk about him. I mean, whether he’s here or at home he’d just say the same things anyway. How’s school? Are you studying? Nothing else. He’s like a.....”
Like a voice recorder, Hope was going to say. But he saw the sadness in his mother’s eyes.
“Oh yeah, you were saying you wanted me to help you with something?” He said, trying to steer the conversation in a different direction. It’s stupid to get all worked up about someone who isn’t even here.
“Oh yes, right. Would you wash these vegetables for me?”
“Well, since we’re staying in a condo that actually comes with a kitchen, it seems such a waste to keep eating out every day.”
She took out a large paper package. It smelled of dirt. Not the kind of smell you’d find in a grocery store.
“When did you have the chance to buy this stuff?”
“This morning, a local person gave them to me.”
Oh yeah, this morning mom woke up early, Hope thought. He had fallen asleep again, and she’d gone out for a walk. That must have been when she bought them.
“They told me this is ingredients they use in their cafe. There are some things they get from the market, but they told me they grow their own vegetables. Here, wash these.”
His mother separated the vegetables, giving Hope lumpy potato-looking things. His mother held some bug eaten leaves. You would never find these in any grocery store in Palumpolum. Or anywhere else.
“You’re always getting into the strangest things.” Hope said, sighing, and turned on the water. It wasn’t like this was the first time his mother did something like this.
“But it was just so interesting! The fieldworker was a very fashionable, good-looking young man you know. It’s only when I learned he worked at a cafe that it didn’t seem odd. And then there was a shorter boy, I think he might have been a bit older than you.”
“It’s still strange, choosing to work in a field.”
“Really? They looked like they were having fun.”
Someone who supports themselves... Hope couldn’t really understand it. There were food production plants that were under the careful management of the fal’Cie which produced large amounts of high quality food that was sold cheaply. He didn’t know how much vegetable seeds cost, but if they were anything like the flower seeds he had seen in garden supply stores then it was possible that growing your own food wasn’t any cheaper.
“And then this girl came, and they started talking, and then he ended up just giving me the vegetables.”
“I’m a mother, I’m strong.”
She laughed, and started washing the bug eaten leaves. It was as if she had completely forgotten the phone call just a few minutes ago. If only we had gone on vacation without him from the start, Hope thought. Then she wouldn’t worry so much, and would just be able to laugh like this. That’s why I hate him. I hate calls in the evening...
He scrubbed hard at the dirt on the vegetables. If only I could wash away everything else so easily, he thought.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Calls in the evening always unpleasant things. Always, without exception.