During a Saturday morning long-distance chat, they had an argument, heated and out of the blue.
Before Joanne could apologize and take back the words she’d barked into the receiver, her daughter had ended the call.
No goodbye. Just a click, then cold silence.
Emily was Joanne’s only child. She’d secured a position the year before at the Children’s Hospital in the capital city. Living nearly three hundred miles apart was taking its toll. They never used to fight, until their lives became more separate – more disconnected.
On days or nights when Joanne felt particularly alone, she’d pick up her phone and jab at the Find Friends app to see what Emily was up to. Most times she was at work, other times at the mall or the gym or at an address Joanne didn’t recognize. Probably visiting friends or out for the evening at a downtown restaurant.
On her loneliest days, it became an obsession; she’d tap on the app every hour. She knew Emily was a busy professional and couldn’t always answer her texts or calls, but tracking her whereabouts gave Joanne a ray of comfort and inclusion, even in this small way.
Emily’s was the only app location to whom she had access. The only one she needed. Two years ago when Emily came home on winter break from nursing school, Joanne had been worried about the icy roads on her daughter’s long drive back to the city.
Snatching up her mother’s phone, Emily had made a few taps, and voila: she’d added and activated the app so her mother could track her progress all the way home to her apartment building.
Joanne sighed and called Emily back. It went to voice mail. She sent a text. Not read, no response. She waited an hour and tried again – same result. Over a stupid disagreement!
When she picked up her phone another hour later and jabbed at the location app, she couldn’t believe her eyes. Her heart twisted in her chest.
Emily had turned her location off.
Joanne finally gave up trying to reach her at 7 pm. All she’d wanted to do was apologize for what she’d said and for being so needy.
While she stared into the fridge at the overdue leftovers, a twin beam of headlights illuminated the window and flickered across the kitchen wallpaper. Joanne waited until she heard the slam of a car door and the click of a key in the lock. She ran to the front door. It swept open and Emily, eyes red-rimmed, fell into her arms.
“I’m sorry, Mom.”
“I’m sorry too, honey. You came all this way! But why didn’t you call or text, or answer any of mine? And why did you turn off your location?”
“I took a week’s family leave to spend with you, and I wanted it to be a surprise. I’ve missed you so much, Mom.” She brushed her lips across Joanne’s cheek. “Now, what’s for supper?”
Thanks for reading!
Friday Fiction appears on the occasional Friday as a place to share my writing in the form of short stories, flash fiction, poetry and vignettes.