Words for International Women’s Day 2021
I watch the weather forecast as Mom gets fired over mistaking the word ‘idiom’ for ‘idiot’.
‘An easy mistake to make,’ she says.
‘Only if you’re an idiot,’ he says.
She tips the pitcher of water over him, ‘When it rains it pours.’
That’s why we’re in the car outside his house at night with the homework I was doing at the diner on my lap and drying out on the back seat. Why we’ve got his credit card details and home address and why we’re watching deliveries arrive he hasn’t ordered, like it’s TV.
Mom lets her food go cold, watching the delivery from the diner, ducking when the bike goes by. She wakes me when the groceries arrive and says he’s probably telling the delivery guy how he’s not ordered any of those ice poles or ice cubes or ice cream or sun cream and if he did, he wouldn’t order that many. And when the packages start coming, Mom’s asleep. Never drinks and drives. Never drives when angry. Never drives when there’s no place to go. Except when she decides to go whichever way the wind blows. I wake her or she’ll be disappointed not to see his face when boxes with branded electric fans, swimwear and inflatables arrive or when he discovers the summer party CDs and merchandising left in his drive or when he throws the crates of umbrellas and rain macs in the trash out back.
I tell her that sending food from the diner gives the game away. Mom says she wants him to know. That he’s not the only smart-ass in town. Him and his ‘come rain or shine’ she’d overheard and been nice enough to offer to put the weather forecast on TV in the diner, and he laughs at her and that’s how it starts.
And how it ends is with the card eventually declined and Mom asleep in the car while I go for a pee and salvage what I can from the trash to put in the trunk to sell. All except one box of umbrellas and a party island self-inflatable flamingo. I open each umbrella out, pull each cheap plastic handle off and stab each metal shaft hard into his lawn.
And with the rising sun, Mom wakes in that cloud I know so well, but smiles to see his lawn covered in umbrellas, with the sprinkler on like rain. I keep the photo of the flamingo to myself until the next time I need to force a change of weather.
Rosaleen Lynch, an Irish community worker and writer in the East End of London, loves stories conversational, literary and performed. Words in Jellyfish Review, EllipsisZine, Fish, Mslexia, Litro, The London Reader and other lovely places and can be found on Twitter @quotes_52 and 52Quotes.blogspot.com