The phone rang and Molly picked it up. “Hello?” the mother of eight said into the phone. “Yes, this is she…Oh! Hello, MarLinda! How are you?” The woman’s voice carried through the nearly empty house, the inhabitants finding other things to do on the beautiful summer morning.
“A show? Of course…please tell me more.” Molly continued speaking to her friend unaware that her third child lurked just behind the shadows of the hall.
“This weekend? Let’s just see what we’ve got going on…” Molly, with cordless phone in hand, walked around the semi-cluttered counter to the refrigerator where a simple piece of paper lay stuck to the metal surface of the fridge with the help of a colorful magnet. The words: “Performance Calendar” was lovingly drawn with a pink Sharpie across the top of the slightly blemished paper.
“Good news,” Molly proclaimed. This weekend looks free for us! If we can make it, I can’t wait to see you and Dan and the kids!”
Molly kept speaking and Nicki emerged from the hall to interrupt her mother.
“Mom,” Nicki said using a voice reserved for times when the 23-year old wanted something from her mother. “Can I please borrow the car?”
Molly placed her hand over the phone’s microphone and whispered, “I’m on the phone, sweetie…”
Undeterred, Nicki continued. “Will you be long?”
“I don’t know…I’m talking to an old friend and I’m booking a gig in St. George.”
The words stopped Nicki cold.
“St. George? What gig? When?” This time Nicki’s sense of consideration for her mom and her mom’s friend disappeared.
“MarLinda,” Molly said somewhat embarrassed. “I'm sorry MarLinda, can you hold please? Thank you...” Molly lowered the phone, her hand stopping any noise from reaching MarLinda. “Nikki, I can't talk to you now because I'm on the phone. The show—if we do it—is in St. George this Saturday. I haven't decided yet if we can do it.”
The reason for the change in Nicki’s demeanor became apparent.
“Mom, you know Brad's family is going to their cabin this month sometime. He's asked me to go with them—remember? I told you about that.”
Molly gave her second-oldest daughter a look she had given her many times over the past two decades.
“Now Nicki,” Molly said in a stern but gentle, motherly manner. “I’m not sure if I want you to be going out with Brad…I’m not sure his intentions are honorable.”
Nicki pondered how best to respond to her mother’s obvious spot-on observation. Just as Molly was about to bring the phone back to her face, Nicki’s 12-year old sister Ashley came into the room.
“Brad’s a jerk!” Ashley said letting the other women in the room know she had heard at least part of their conversation.
“Oh, little sister…once you become a woman, you’ll understand what love is all about.”
“I’m not a woman yet, but I’m old enough to know he’s a jerk.” Ashley grabbed an apple from a fruit bowl and left the room.
Nicki turned her attention back to her mother, the person in possession of the coveted car keys.
“Honey, Molly said. “Why do you need the car?”
“Brad just called me from work and he wants to take me out.”
“Take you out, huh? Doesn’t he just need a ride somewhere?”
Nicki looked down. How did her mother know so much, she thought to herself. “Maybe,” Nicki said shyly.
“Nicki, doesn’t Brad work as a car salesman?”
“Yes,” Nicki said, pretty sure she knew what her mother was getting at.
“And don’t the car salesmans get to drive the cars they try to sell?”
“Usually yes, but hitting five deer in four days in downtown Salt Lake City isn’t as unusual as it sounds…”
“Uh huh…” Molly said. “I’m going to stop you right there. Where does he need to go.”
Nicki hesitated, unsure whether or not to proceed. Somehow she knew her mother had figured it all out anyway.
“He’s got to go see…a taxidermist.”
“Alright,” Molly said finally raising the phone and digging into her pant’s pocket to retrieve the car keys. “But no deer carcasses in the trunk—I’m not going through that again.”
An instant after the keys made their appearance, Nicki snapped them up. “Thanks Mom!” she said and she kissed her mother on the cheek almost hitting the phone. With keys in hand, the young woman vanished out of the kitchen and through the front door.