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A Family’s Fall

Sep 21, 2015 | Curbside Consults

Fall begins in the parking lot outside the diner. If I knew we were going down, I would have had the apple pie for dessert.

Gladys and I drop off first—fall into a sinkhole, a bottomless abyss.

The stupid kids follow right behind.

It’s a very long drop. There’s a good thirty seconds or so before it no longer feels like we’re moving. That’s when the arguing begins.

“Why is Austin wearing a body suit?” Gladys asks.

“You thinks the kids listen to me when I tell them what to wear?”

“He wasn’t wearing that at dinner.”

“Maybe he changed in the Men’s room. I don’t care what he wears.”

“Ned, I’m not criticizing his outfit, but if he’s wearing that suit—it means he expected to fall.”

“So?”

“Why do you want your son to drop faster than you or I?”

“I don’t know, Gladys. Maybe I want him to arrive there first.”

“And where is there, Ned?”

“I don’t know, Gladys. At the end—the bottom.”

“And what’s he going to do when gets there without us? And what about her?”

“She’s smaller. She can stay under my arm.”

“Okay, Mr. Smarty Pants—when Austin gets there ahead of us, who’s going to take care of him, prepare his food, get him ready for bed? Obviously not you.”

“I try to do what’s right for our kids. I stay positive about the future, unlike some of us.”

“A lot of good that will do us when we hit bottom.

“But no one knows when that will be, Gladys. You can’t worry about these things. You just have to deal with the circumstances at hand.”

“You can go with the fall, I’m staying here with the kids.”

“How, by ballooning up your skirt?”

“You mean the one you didn’t want me to wear?”

“I just didn’t want you to waste time color coordinating, making us late for the last meal.”

“So we could rush to start the fall?”

“Are you blaming me, Gladys?”

“Well, you chose the diner.”

“Is that supposed to mean I did something wrong–like not providing for our family?

What you think I was doing all these years?”

“And taking care of the kids doesn’t count?”

“Of course it counts. Look, Gladys. Maybe this isn’t the best time to argue.”

“I just think it’s selfish to let our son fall ahead.”

“Maybe you’re right, but now you’re falling behind. I’m sorry I yelled. Let’s hold hands.”

“I can’t reach you.”

“Try–come closer!”

“Ned—I’m trying, I can’t.”

“Forget your handbag.”

“I need it.”

“Lorraine! I said, drop your god damned hand bag!”

“Okay! All right. For god’s sake, you don’t have to yell. Maybe if I was a little bit taller. Maybe if you didn’t tell me to let go of my heels–”

“You shouldn’t be wearing heels in the first place, we’re falling. You don’t need to walk.”

“Who said anything about walking in heels? If I had extra height maybe we’d be together as a family. Look, Ned. Up there–behind us. I see Lorraine Pasternack and her kids. What do you think happened to Yoram?”

“I don’t know.”

“I see people falling alone, without their families. That Yoram Pasternack wasn’t such a good husband or father. And Lorraine–was never much of a mother.”

“Yeah, but you can’t blame her, she had a difficult time. Under the circumstances I think she did just fine.”

“Ned? Why are you looking up?”

“I’m trying to see you.”

“No—you’re looking past me.”

“My neck. I wrenched my neck.”

“No, Ned, I think you’re looking up Lorraine Pasternack’s dress.”

“Mommy, my stomach hurts.”

“What’s it feel like?”

“It’s that dropping feeling. Make it go away.”

“As soon as we come to the end of the fall.”

“Mommy? Are we almost there?”

“Ned, for god’s sake. Say something. Answer your daughter.”

“I’m too busy falling.”

“Mommy it hurts.”

“I’m sorry, baby. I told you not to eat so much chocolate.”

“You know, I’m actually not feeling so good myself, Ned. My skin’s starting to itch.”

“It’s the air currents–the stress. You’re just nervous, Gladys. It’ll pass.”

“Mommy!”

“I’m sorry, baby. I thought you were sleeping. Here, lie on me. Lie on Mommy’s shoulder.”

“I need a pillow.”

“You don’t need a pillow when you’re falling.”

“How come Austin gets to play with his Gamemover?”

“He’s just pretending, there’s no reception down here.”

“I am not pretending! I have a really nice picture.”

“Austin? Where’d you come from?”

“I took off my body suit.”

“That wasn’t smart, Austin. You’re going to catch a cold.

“Gladys, give the kid a break. He wants to be with his family.

“Give me it, it’s my turn!”

“No, stop! It’s mine.”

“Mom, he’s not sharing.”

“Ned? Ned! Are you just going to fall over there or tell your son to share his toy?”

“I’m too busy looking to see when we’re going to hit bottom. Stop nagging.”

“You’re too busy trying to let Lorraine Pasternack catch up.”

“Well, wouldn’t you like to talk with someone?”

“I wouldn’t need to talk with someone if my own family would cooperate and work together for once. This might be out last moment together.”

“Maybe, but it’s going to be a long moment. Longer than anyone can imagine.”

 

 

 

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© Richie Smith 

© Richie Smith