Mara climbed out of her car and blinked up at the powder blue sky. A gorgeous September day. She almost wished she didn’t have to go into the salon to get her hair done.
She shrugged; at least she enjoyed the company of the people there. The old fashioned, independent boutique had their regulars, and everyone knew each other. Even the door clanged with a bell when she entered.
“Hi, Mara.” Her stylist waved as she swept up her station. “I’ll be right with you.”
“No problem.” Mara stood near the checkout counter where a gray-haired woman was paying for services. She looked familiar from behind, and then when she spoke, Mara recognized her cousin. “Hello, Gloria. How are you?”
Gloria pivoted slowly, a scowl on her face, eyes squinted, and then she turned right back around toward the cashier without a word.
“Gloria? What’s the matter?” Deep down Mara knew. She didn’t mean to hurt her cousin’s feelings. She had apologized profusely, and Gloria said she accepted her apology. “You’re not going to talk to me anymore?”
With her back to Mara, Gloria spat, “No, I’m not.” She finished paying the cashier and stamped out the door.
Mara’s throat ached from the large yarn of tears she kept trying to swallow down while getting her hair done. Afterward, she rushed to pay and escaped to the privacy of her Acura SUV. To her surprise, tears of both sadness and fury draped her cheeks. How dare that woman treat me with such disrespect. I apologized, what more did she want?
She opened the visor mirror and dabbed at her face with a tissue before leaving, but she didn’t go home.
Mara arrived at her daughter’s house and rang the bell.
“Mom? What a surprise.” Abby opened the storm door for her mother to enter. “Is everything okay?”
“No. It isn’t.”
“What happened?” Abby guided her mom to a forest green living room chair. “Can I get you something to drink?”
“Not right now. I’m too angry to swallow.” Mara gasped in some air and then told her daughter about the encounter with Gloria.
“Wait, I thought she said she forgave you. Did something else happen?” Abby settled across from her mom on an accent chair.
“I don’t know.” Mara flopped her hands down on the seat cusion. “She’s so touchy about every little thing, who knows what’s got her upset this time.”
“You never told me exactly what you said to her. Didn’t it have to do with Gloria’s son, Drew?”
“Oh, I’m embarrassed now that I know it was inappropriate to say. But…I asked if they thought Drew would stay sober for her daughter, Shelly’s, wedding festivities.”
Abby sucked in a breathe through her teeth. “Oops. I could see why it might be a tender subject, with him in recovery, but to never talk to you again? I mean, you did apologize.”
“Shelly still holds a grudge for what I said when her father died ten years ago.” Mara sighed.
“I didn’t know about that. What did you say?”
“All I said was that I understood their grief, because when I went through a divorce it was like a death.”
Abby jerked her head sideways. “What’s wrong with that? You did grieve in a similar way.”
“The two of them are always getting mad about something. I feel like no matter what I do, it’s wrong. It’s probably better we don’t talk, because who knows what else might set them off?” Mara slumped in resignation.
“I don’t get it. Do they think they’re perfect or something? Now, this puts me in a precarious position.”
“This is my problem, Abby. You don’t have to let it get between you and them.”
“What would they expect? I’d feel very uncomfortable around them after the way they treated you. We were always so close with them. It makes me sad that things have to be this way.” Abby dropped her head, looking forlorn.
I wrote this (
mostly) fictional story and had originally planned to comment on it, but I’d rather read your comments. What do you think about Mara’s story? I’ll let you comment while I contemplate it for a while.