our kind of people by ingridfnl

14 Mar

“They just,” her mother said sighing heavily, “they just aren’t our kind of people.”

“Our kind of people?” said Karen. She sat across from her mother in the hotel restaurant, shredding her tissue into small balls. She looked outside at the tulips blooming in the window boxes and then back at her wintry mother sitting across from her, lips pinched, eyebrows raised.

“Oh you know,” her mother countered, reaching across the table and with two fingers removing what remained of the white shreds in Karen’s hands. Her mother gestured to the server near by who deftly swept the litter into a small crumbpan with tiny brass-handled broom and retrieved the proffered shreds from between her mother’s fingers. Her mother reached into her purse and pulled out a perfectly ironed linen handkerchief. She held it out to Karen while she clicked the purse shut sharply with the other hand.

The handkerchief hung between them like a challenge. Karen folded her arms and said quietly, “I love him.” Suddenly, Karen did not feel nervous any more. In some strange way, that heavily-starched white handkerchief had dried her tears and given her confidence.

“And?” her mother asked withdrawing the handkerchief with all of the imperiousness of a woman who had always ruled, a woman who had never been defied. That single word held a threat. Her mother placed the handkerchief beside her and laid a proprietary hand on top of it as if to say, “I will not offer you it again.”

“That’s all I have to say,” said Karen, who stood.

“Sit down,” her mother hissed. “Don’t make a scene. You can’t possibly marry a divorced postal worker.” At that moment, a server stopped beside the table.

“Will there be anything else, madam,” he asked Karen. “Can I do anything at all for you.”

“No. Thank you so much. No. I’m fine.” He paused a moment and nodded to her.

She smiled at him, and then found herself looking her mother in the eye, something she rarely did, while saying, “I can. And. I will.”

As if on cue, the waiter appeared behind her with her coat. “Madam,” he said, smiling warmly and helping her on with her coat. Karen smiled at him, “thank you,” she said, laying a hand on his arm. “Have a wonderful day.” As she passed through the doors out into the warm sun and gentle breeze, she breathed in the new beginning. She breathed in freedom. She breathed spring.

***

Related story: grandma underwear

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3 Responses to “our kind of people by ingridfnl”

  1. J Adamthwaite March 14, 2010 at 9:29 pm #

    It’s really nice to see Karen from the other side. It makes me feel very sure that she’s right for Hammond. I really like the description of the waiter sweeping the table – as well as describing the scene, it really adds to the image of the pristine and proper mother.

  2. jmforceton March 14, 2010 at 10:53 pm #

    Great use of the tissue and handkerchief imagery to highlight the situation; but the poor “retired postal workers”, and there are a lot of them around. Of course with a mom like the one you’ve created, and in fact for many moms, a hundred stereotypes could receive the same treatment.

    “You can’t possibly marry a divorced fiction writer.”

    Ingrid another great set of pieces for your project.

  3. jeanosullivan October 11, 2012 at 2:05 am #

    Dimensions of the characters’ lives… you just blew my mind! 🙂

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