Fiction Friday Part 9: The Pickup

– Posted in: Fiction, Novel in Progress, Parenting, Tammy Thinks, Worst Mom Randomness, Writing

We’re catching up with “young” Eric again this week. Hopefully he wasn’t permanently scarred by his experience in Thailand. If you really want to get all the down and dirty details, you should start at the beginning. But here’s a bit of what’s happened so far: Peter is married with children. What his wife doesn’t know is that Peter had a brief love affair with Eric when they were in their 20’s and living on Kauai. Peter thought everything was going just fine, but it turns out Eric wanted to break it off. Unfortunately, Eric’s method of dumping was to call Peter’s dad, who wasn’t keen on the fact that Peter was gay. Twenty years later, Eric is with Jason, and now Eric’s having a moral/midlife crisis over what he did 20 years ago.


San Francisco International Airport Eric scanned the pick-up area at San Francisco International Airport. His mother’s car would be easy to find. The burnt red, 1980 Volvo 265 station wagon had attended every soccer practice, swim meet, or random school event since he was 11-years-old. He could spot the 12-year-old box from a mile away.

But no matter what, his mother had to honk. She always had to honk.

Eric opened the back of the station wagon and threw in his canvas duffle bag.

“Remember to slam it! The door sticks!” she said, like it hadn’t been doing that since his senior year of high school. He walked around to the passenger side and got in. She reached across the center console, hugged his face between her palms, and kissed him on the forehead.

“How are you, my darling boy.”

“I’m fine, Mom. Thanks for picking me up.”

“Of course, Honey.”

She checked her side mirror and slowly pulled into the circling traffic.

“So, how was your trip?”


“No problems? Was it a smooth flight? I was just happy it wasn’t a foggy day. They said the airport was going to have some trouble today, but of course it didn’t. They never know what they’re talking about. I don’t know why I even listen to them. And then, of course, I couldn’t figure out which flight you were on because the time you gave me didn’t match up with any of the flights I told the woman at the airline, so she couldn’t tell me if you were delayed or not. I swear, the people they hire are so incompetent. But anyway, you were saying, how was the flight?”

“Good. It was all good.”

They followed the river of cars out of the airport and onto Highway 101.

“Ugh, I should’ve had you drive. I hate driving on the freeway.” She leaned forward and jerked her head back and forth, searching for an opening in the next lane over. “So, how’s Hawaii?”

“Good. I mean, it was good.”

“What do you mean was?” She jerked the car into a space between a black Mercedes and a small delivery truck.

“Well, I haven’t been there for about six weeks.”

“What are you talking about?” She settled into her seat and glanced over at him.

“I just got back from Thailand. Today. That’s where I was. Thailand.”

“Thailand? Thailand?! ”

“Mom! Watch the road.”

“I’m watching the road just fine. How exactly do you run off to Thailand without telling me about it? What were you thinking? What if something’d happened to you? No one would even know where you were. Wait, did Andrea know where you were? Your sister knew didn’t she. Or your father. You told your father about this and you didn’t tell me. Why would you do this? Why would you tell everyone else where you were and leave me out of it?”

“Okay, Mom, just calm down, okay? I’m sorry. I didn’t want you to worry.”

“Right! Sure! Why would I worry about my son being halfway around the world? And having no idea where he was or how to get to him? Why would that upset me at all?”

“Mom, I’m sorry, that’s just my point. . . you didn’t even know I was gone, so you didn’t have to worry.”

“Do you really think that makes it any better? Do you really think that makes it all okay, Eric? I have six weeks of worry to deal with.”

He paused for a moment and turned his head to look at her, gripping the steering wheel at ten and two. “Are you trying to tell me you’re going to worry retroactively?” he said.

“I’m telling you. . . I’m telling you that I don’t even know what to say right now. How could you do this to me Eric. How could you do this. You know how much I hate lying. You know it. I’ve never asked for anything from you. Not much at all. All I’ve asked is that my children be open and honest with me. This is just like your father.”

No it’s not. This is nothing like my father. My father doesn’t lie. Didn’t lie. You may hate him but he didn’t lie. He told you straight up why he was leaving ten years ago. Just because you’ve never been able to accept that doesn’t make him a liar. He’s not a liar! He’s not a fucking liar! He just couldn’t take it anymore!

Say it! Just say it! Tell her! This is why you didn’t call! This is why you don’t tell her anything!

“Mom! God, don’t you get it? This is why! This is why!”

“Why? Why what, Eric?”

“I just. . . You don’t. . . I really wish you could. . .”

Eric looked out the passenger window and watched the mile markers pop up along the guard rail.

“I’m just deeply hurt, Eric. Deeply hurt. You’ve always been the one I could count on…”

Eric closed his eyes. He imagined the feeling of water washing through his body from his head to his toes. Then he turned and touched her arm with is fingertips. “I’m sorry, Mom. I screwed up. I don’t know what I was thinking. I swear it’ll never happen again.”

She took her eyes off the road for a moment and glanced at him. She reached over with her right hand and held his cheek in her palm. “It’s okay. We all make mistakes. That’s what growing up is all about.”

She turned her focus back to the road. Eric closed his eyes and let his head fall back. The spot where he hit the rock wall still felt tender, but at least his hair covered any bruising or scars.

“So. . . how was Thailand?”

“Beautiful. Different. I took a bunch of pictures. I’ll get them developed, and you can see for yourself.”

“And what about Peter? Did he go with you?”

“Peter and I broke up. He. . . left. It’s a long story, but. . .well. . . his family wasn’t all that on board with what he was doing.”

“What? But you were so happy? Didn’t you explain that to them? Do you want me to call them? I can call them. People are reasonable once you sit them down and explain things. I’m sure there’s something we can do.”


Read Part 10: The Kiss


This week’s prompt: Our metaphorical spring is coming ever closer although things / conditions are still mostly dormant. The theme this week is: Recovery. The “ice” has thawed a bit, revealing your character’s recovery of a memory; or s/he has recovered (this is not sought, it just appears, like a plant poking through the hard, cold earth) something that was once lost; or experiences an old habit in a new way? Better? Good? You decide. Oh: mostly dialogue. 


Friday Fiction Femmes Fatales March

And be sure to check out my fellow femmes:





19 Comments… add one

Cheryl S. March 8, 2013, 10:55 am

I found myself wanting to beat my own head against the window of the car…I was actually feeling anxious over his mother’s overwhelming guilt-tripping and accusations, etc. VERY GOOD. Bring back some sexy now. 🙂 I kid, I kid. I LOVE this story.

Tammy March 10, 2013, 1:31 pm

Haha! I was wondering when the demands would start…

Thanks Cheryl!

molly March 8, 2013, 12:09 pm

Poor Mommy Eric. She’s a bag of nerves and rage. I love her! I love the way she drives, I love the way she thinks. We’ve all got shit floating around in our heads: old shit new day… old shit old day. Replaying this stuff… all of us. It’s how we learn to learn. Good stuff. I love the dialogue. We had a Volvo wagon too. Tanks they are.

Tammy March 10, 2013, 1:32 pm

I love the way she drives, too. I’m pretty sure Eric wishes she had him switch seats with her at the airport too.

Love the Volvo. Wish I had one.

Susanne nelson March 8, 2013, 12:34 pm

Why do some mothers have to be like that? So frustrating. Very realistic and funny too!

Tammy March 10, 2013, 1:33 pm

Oh trust me, this is me on steroids. I know exactly how this woman works. I’m just sort of hoping if I keep writing her, I’ll chill out.

Kelly DeBie March 8, 2013, 1:28 pm

Loving all the family background.

Tammy March 10, 2013, 1:34 pm

That’s just because it’s always the mom’s fault. Which was great until we became the moms.

Verity March 8, 2013, 2:35 pm

So real – can just picture the LA freeways – yikes. And nice catch – getting the pictures “developed.” Great as always…but I agree with Cheryl – where’s the sex?

Tammy March 10, 2013, 1:36 pm

It’s on its way! I don’t want to overload you people. Lord only knows what might happen…;0

Clearly Kristal March 11, 2013, 11:16 am

Tammy: You painted the motherly guilt brilliantly! Her spacey driving sounded like my own mom. Ha! The setting, conversation and “unspoken” words that we know are sometimes too much to verbalize – powerful. The piece emphasized our human flaws of guilt, protection, hurt…

Tammy March 11, 2013, 12:48 pm

Kristal, I swear, your comments are better than my posts.

Clearly Kristal March 11, 2013, 12:52 pm

Oh my. You give what you get, my dear. You are sweet – thank you, Tammy!

Quirky Chrissy March 12, 2013, 11:18 am

The conversation flowed so naturally. Much like Kristal, I felt like I was listening to my own mom lecturing me. I love the way she worries and cares so much for him. Awesome.

Tammy March 13, 2013, 2:58 pm

Thanks Chrissy! She does care…

Alexa (katbiggie) March 12, 2013, 8:01 pm

I have met mothers like that! Oh the guilt trip is laid on so thick! I would have left her too! 🙂

Tammy March 13, 2013, 2:59 pm

Well, I was raised Catholic. I have extensive experience with this genre.

Sandra March 14, 2013, 3:45 am

Eric’s mother is hysterical I wanted to smash her face but at the same time she really made me laugh so much deja vu in her character 😉 xx

Tammy May 5, 2013, 6:14 pm

Sandra! So much violence from such a normally chill person…;)

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