I’m going with grief, family dynamics and unjust accusations from Yves list.
I wrote this originally in two parts, this is the second with extracts from the first.
I hope it’s acceptable for today’s challenge though it is rather long:
Two sides to the Story Part 2
She rang the bell.
She was dreading this meeting, but it had to be done.
She hoped she looked presentable.
After 4 years, she came face to face with her mother-in-law.
‘What do you want?’ she demanded. ‘And where’s that spineless son of mine?’
Not knowing exactly what to say, she said
‘He couldn’t come.’
‘More like you wouldn’t let him! He never would stand up to you. Always got what you wanted. Never a thought for anyone else. Go away.’
The door started to close.
Not wanting to have this kind of conversation on the doorstep, she asked if she could come in.
‘What for? There’s nothing for you here.’
‘Please,’ she said. ‘I need to talk to you’.
Grumbling her agreement, she walked away, leaving the door ajar.
As always, there was no hospitality, just hostility, so she offered to make them both a cup of tea.
Having lived there for a couple of months, she knew where things were.
Every weekday, she had come home from the office and cooked for the three of them, her husband having been in the house all day at his mother’s beck and call, her whipping boy, the object of her ridicule. After being laid off, he’d been unable to find alternative employment which gave her even more fuel to torment him. They’d had to sell their house and had no choice but to move in with his mother until they could get back on their feet.
As always, the TV was on at high volume and it was difficult to make herself heard.
‘Did you get the letters OK? We never heard from you, but he wrote every month.’
She remembered the arguments they’d had about him keeping in touch. His mother never wrote or rang them, and on the few occasions he had called her, the reception had been sarcastic and accusing, tempers had flared with her voice screeching over the wire, and he would be shaking when he put the phone down. Reluctantly he agreed to write instead.
‘Big deal. He could have phoned. But oh no, you probably stopped that too. I needed him here! The garden’s too much for me and the place needs decorating. I don’t see anyone from one day to the next, and I can’t remember the last time I went out. Mind you, even when you were living local, you never offered to take me anywhere, and I practically had to beg to get one of you to take me shopping!’
Oh yes, she remembered those times too. They were only 10 miles away and often rang to invite her to join them on an outing but she never wanted to go.
Every weekend, they would visit to take her shopping, even though it was only three or four items, then she’d ring them in the week demanding they come up and take her to the supermarket as she’d run out of milk and toilet rolls. The fact that there was a Co-Op in the rank of shops 2 doors away was incidental.
She always said she never saw anyone or went anywhere, then in the next breath would contradict herself.
She was tired, so very tired, wanting to get away from this bitter woman who blamed her entirely when they had decided to move away from the area for a fresh start.
They had taken the telephone numbers of two very good neighbours in case of an emergency, and through them knew that one or the other would pop in every day to ask if she needed anything or if she’d like to go out.
Between them, the men would do any small odd jobs around the house, nearly always at their own expense and without so much as a thank you, as her brother-in-law was never available. She’d only met him once, a weasley little guy bleeding his mother dry but she wouldn’t see it. On two occasions he had arranged for a ‘professional’ to come in, then told her some exorbitant figure was required to settle up and she’d hand over a thousand pounds for a job costing a tenth of that.
The phone rang.
It was ignored, and she was told to leave it.
It was ‘Soap’ afternoon and obviously they still took priority in her life.
‘What do you want anyway?’
‘I wanted to tell you in person………….’ and to her horror, she started to cry.
Her mother-in-law was furious.
‘Don’t try and pull that one on me Missy!’
Accusations followed, and slumped in the chair, she took it all.
When she was told to get out, she stood up, buttoned her coat and left without another word.
With a dignified click, the door closed quietly, and finally, behind her.
After a terrible showdown, they had left all those years ago to save her husband’s sanity. She quit her job without giving notice and they’d roughed it for weeks, eventually making a life for themselves hundreds of miles away. It was several months before they felt mentally strong enough to collect their stuff, some of which had been disposed of in spite. They wished they hadn’t bothered, their reception was that acidic.
She’d insisted he kept in touch though. She was his mother after all, and it was ‘just her way’.
He was right of course, and always had been, but she’d refused to believe it.
His mother only had feelings for her firstborn, someone she rarely saw unless he wanted something. When he was fifteen, she had found herself pregnant a second time, the result of a good firm’s bash and too much to drink on both sides so that precautions had been thrown to the wind.
She never forgave him for being born, always found fault with him, saying he was never good enough, treating him more as a lowly servant than a son.
Today had been a mistake, but her own sense of family loyalty determined she had to go.
Her mother-in-law would never know the reason for her visit now, and although she hated herself for thinking it, it was doubtful she would even care that her son had died.