Calling Home

Greg felt guilty. It had been months since he’d called home. But, he’d been so busy with work. And there was the three-day hiking trip he’d needed to prepare for and recover from. Plus, he only ever remembered to call home when it wasn’t a good time to call. It was always either too late at night or too early in the morning.

So, it had been months since he’d called home. He realized this when he wanted his mom’s cookie recipe for an office potluck. Then he felt guilty and put off calling for another week, worried about facing parental disappointment.

And then he had an epiphany. They hadn’t called him either, had they? What kind of parents didn’t check on their kids for months? Isn’t that a parent’s job? Even when their kids are all grown up, they should worry about them enough to check in once in a while. It was only common sense.

Of course, they could have called and left a message. Greg never listened to his messages. It would be different if you could skip to the end to delete them, but instead you had to listen to the whole thing first. And the messages from the Red Cross about the blood drives were so long.

But, if they left him a message and he hadn’t called them back, they should have tried to call again and again until they actually spoke to him. He was pretty sure that was what good parents did. So, deciding that this was all their fault really, he dialed his mom’s cell phone number.

“Hello?” Mom said. There was a kind of crackly noise as she spoke, like someone blowing on a microphone.

“Mom,” Greg said. “You owe me your cookie recipe.”

“Greg, is that you?” Mom asked. The crackly noise continued.

“You’ve forgotten what your own son sounds like?”

“It’s hard to hear you over all this wind,” Mom said.

“Well, go some where less windy,” Greg said.

“What?”

“GO INSIDE!” Greg said.

The crackly sound stopped. “Greg?   How are you?” Mom said.

“Oh good, that’s much better,” Greg said. “Can you hear me now?”

”Of course I can, dear. How are you?”

Greg sighed. Small talk.   Fine. “I’m fine. How are you? Anything interesting happening there?”

“Not much,” Mom said. “It’s your dad’s birthday next week.”

“Great. I’ll send him a card,” Greg said.

“Oh, you’d better make sure to send it to the new address,” Mom said.   “Otherwise he won’t get it.”

“You moved? When did you move?”

Mom sighed. “Well, we could hardly stay there after the fire.”

“What fire?” Greg asked.

“Oh it was weeks ago. It’s not really a big deal. The insurance covered most of it, and we’ll probably rebuild after the trial,” Mom said.

“Was it arson?”

“Yes,” Mom said.

“That’s terrible,” Greg said.

“Oh, no, it meant they put us in the witness protection program,” Mom said. Her voice sounded cheerful.

“What?”

“Well, after the mafia shooting at your dad’s work, everyone that was there has been having problems. Ours wasn’t so bad really,” Mom said.

“I should come home and visit,” Greg said.

“Don’t worry about us, dear. It’s like a little vacation really,” Mom said. “So, what have you been up to?”

“Well, I went on a three-day bike ride, and we’re having an office party this week. I wanted to make your cookies,” Greg said.

“Oh, I don’t have my recipes with me,” Mom said. “But I’m sure you can find an even better recipe online.   Isn’t the internet amazing?”

“Uh, yeah,” Greg said. “Mom, why didn’t you call me?”

“Oh, things were just so crazy, and I didn’t want you to worry,” Mom said.

“From now on, I’m going to call you once a week,” Greg said. “You both get into too much trouble when I don’t check in on you.”

Mom laughed. “That sounds like a wonderful idea dear. Tell me more about your job. Is it still keeping you terribly busy?”

What do you think of today's story?