Don’t miss chapters one through twelve!
At five minutes past two, the phone rings. Heather’s been avoiding calls all day, feigning illness since she rushed out of the meeting at Starbucks. She gets up from the family room sofa and stumbles over an assortment of plastic toys. She hurries to pick up before the ringing disturbs Ava, who’s asleep in her crib.
“Hello,” Heather says, hoping it’s anyone but Mary. It’s harder to lie without the aid of technology distancing them.
“I’ve been worried about you,” Erin Albright says. “And Sydney Lu is organizing a meal train.”
“You’re joking,” Heather says.
“We heard you were ill,” Erin says. “Sydney sent out the email an hour ago with the link to the Friends Who Care website. I spoke to you last night. Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Because I’m not sick,” Heather says. If there is one person to whom she feels that she can make this confession, it’s Erin. Their sons have been in class together since kindergarten. Heather looks out the kitchen window into her spacious backyard. Erin is the kind of mother whom Heather feels most comfortable around. She doesn’t try to be perfect. Even without children, Heather imagines that they’d be close friends. They both went to college in Northern California and often talk someday relocating their families there.
“I’m confused,” Erin admits.
Heather glances nervously at the digital clock on the microwave. It reads 2:11. She still has an hour before the children get home. “I texted Mary that I was sick to excuse myself from running out on her meeting this morning at Starbucks,” Heather says. “When she emailed me later, I replied that I’d been having some recent stomach problems.”
Erin laughs. “The good news is that she believes you,” Erin says. “You don’t want to piss her off. She’ll make life hell for you and your children. Remember poor Nancy Wilcox.”
“You know, she moved from the Palisades,” Heather says.
“Well, the bad news is that the whole town now thinks you have a serious case of I.B.S,” Erin says. “Irritable Bowel Syndrome.”
“At least I don’t have to work on her committee,” Heather says and looks around the sunny kitchen.
“And, you’ll have dinner delivered to your house all week,” Erin says laughing.
“That’s awful, “ Heather says. “I’ll have to stop that website.”
“But you can’t risk Mary knowing,” Erin says. “ I’d give it a week and then let Sydney know you’re feeling better. In the meantime, I’d lie low if I were you.”
Heather begins to think about a week of relaxing at home, without worrying about dinners to prepare. She feels guilty but would certainly enjoy it. She hears Ava crying. “I’ve got to go,” Heather says. “The baby is awake. Swear you won’t tell anyone about this?”
“Are you kidding?” Erin says. “Then I’d be a co-conspirator.”
The meal train acts efficiently. They know not to disturb the family in need and so dinner is left in a large canvas bag by the front door with a small handwritten note. “Feel better soon. Best, The Cohen Family.”
Heather looks around guiltily and carries it in, feeling as if she’s just stolen something. Which in a sense she has. She feels terrible. Still, dinner smells delicious. She unloads the bag in the kitchen and reveals a turkey potpie with a golden brown crust.
Michael calls for the kids. There is the sound of footsteps and chairs scratching the hardwood floor.
“Hope this won’t irritate your delicate stomach,” Michael says to her, laughing.
Heather nudges him in the shoulder and he sits at the dinner table. She’d had to tell him the truth to help cover her lie. He of course found the whole thing ridiculous but nevertheless entertaining. “Just don’t tell the children,” she’d said. “I don’t want them knowing that their mother is a liar.”
It’s unusually quiet at the table as all of the children are busy eating their dinner. Heather cuts into her piece of the pie and watches as the wholesome ingredients spill, out onto her plate. Carrots, peas, potatoes, large pieces of white meat turkey. Marcia Cohen shops at the Farmers Market in Santa Monica. This must have taken her several hours to prepare. Heather pushes the food around her plate, too guilty to even eat.
“Can you make this again tomorrow, Mom?” Dylan asks with a mouthful of food. “This is my new favorite dinner.”
“Me too,” Kaitlin says.
Heather takes a long sip of her white wine and looks at Michael who is trying not to laugh. This will be her punishment, cooking a whole turkey, cutting organic vegetables into perfect bite size piece, making a homemade piecrust and baking it all in the oven at just the right temperature. There will be no room for error. She’ll have to get the recipe from Marcia next week.
“I’ll try my best,” she says truthfully.
Don’t miss chapters one through twelve!
Note: The ModernMom Chronicles is a fictional novel. The story is not a personal blog, nor is it based on existing people or events.