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The window panes creak as the wind suddenly picks up. The sound catches Liz’s attention, and she gazes up at the oval window. The sky is shaded with stripes of yellow and burnt orange and the sun slips below the grass line and blends with the earth. The vibrant colors of the sky suddenly turn to shades of gray.
“It’s not fair.” Liz breaks the silence.
The chill of the restaurant cause goose bumps to run up Liz’s bare legs. She crosses one over the other in an attempt to hold off the cold. She turns to reach her leather jacket and pulls it off the back of the chair. Liz ties it tightly around her slim waist and then reaches for the off-white napkin to place on her lap. Now slightly warmer, she peeks up at her mother seated across the table.
“Liz honey, let’s try to get through this dinner peacefully.” Her mom responds.
Mother holds the restaurant menu up to the dim candle light, while adjusting her glasses into the indentation of her pointed noise. Her squinted hazel eyes follow the words of the page as she glances over the pasta dishes. Her hair is pulled back into a sloppy bun; the flickering candle occasionally highlights her white strands.
“Let’s not!” Liz snaps back. “How could you do this to me?” Her mind races back to her last family dinner with her dad. Mom had prepared grilled salmon over a fresh arugula salad. She can still taste it in her mouth. The taste of disappointment, hatred and fear, overpowered that of the actual food. Dad got home late from work that night so Mom was already in a bad mood.
Liz remembers the fighting and the anger. She remembers sitting there helplessly, pushing the food around her plate, and trying not to make eye contact with either of them. She remembers going to bed that night, and hearing commotion still going on in the kitchen. She didn’t understand how so much emotion could be released in one night. A plate dropped. Shatter. Liz cried herself to sleep.
The next morning he was gone.
“Texas, Mom! Do you understand how far away that is? How will I be able to see Dad? What about my friends? What about my senior year? It’s not fair!” Liz’s voice grows louder and people at the surrounding tables begin to stare. Six months later, her father seems like a distant memory and Mother has already moved on to Paul.
“You’re making a scene. We’ll talk about this later.” Her eyes grow wide and Liz can feel the table shaking. Her mother furiously taps her foot whenever she is anxious.
Liz grabs the table tightly and leans forward towards her mom. The tapping stops for a brief second. Liz draws her face closer in towards her. She wants her to feel her anger. Mother, glancing down, avoids the eye contact. The tapping starts again.
“No, we will talk about this now! You obviously don’t even care about me. All you care about is your stupid new boyfriend and his job in Texas.” Liz’s face grows red.
The gray clouds suddenly release the rain and the sound interrupts the conversation. Drops roll down the window and gather in puddles, illuminated by the rising silver moon. Water rolls off the spring leaves of the nearby trees as they drop down to earth. The rhythmic beat on the roof of the restaurant is somehow calming, yet Liz wishes it would suddenly break and the water would rush in, carrying away all her troubles.
Mother has no words. She simply rises from her chair and slowly strolls towards the back of the restaurant towards the ladies room. Liz watches as she walks away. She doesn’t call for her mother or get up to follow her. She simply sits there blank minded, with anger no longer present. Sometimes there is nothing more to be said. Sometimes nothing more should be said.
Five minutes pass and the rain lets up some. A family of three lumped together under one umbrella walks through the restaurant door. The little girl holds the hands of her mother and father. Her short blonde hair is swooped up into two pigtails at the top of her head. She smiles with her big green eyes, tilts her head backward, and looks up at her daddy talking to the hostess.
Liz laughs at the sight. She smiles as she thinks of herself in that same crazy hairdo when she was a little girl. But as the family is escorted to a nearby table, a familiar sound of argument rings in Liz’s ears. The girl tugs her mom’s sweater, begging for any attention. She desperately looks up at her two role models with a smile, but it soon fades away into confusion. The mom ignores her and continues to stand her ground against the dad. They continue to banter and Liz turns to the empty seat in front of her.
With the rain finally stopped, the classical record, playing in the corner of the restaurant, sounds much louder. Liz sighs and rises from the table, ready to apologize to her mother. She walks past the family and winks at the little girl. She proceeds past the playing record and knows that her life will carry on and the record will always keep spinning.