A surprising twist on what seems like a straightforward story about a mother, Kayla, hiding bad news from her kids. Turns out that’s not all she has hidden in this story about family secrets by Sara Difrancesco on her NiTH debut.
A Short Story About Family Secrets
by Sara Difrancesco
The clock behind the Doctor’s head continued to tick, though for all she knew, Kayla’s time stood still.
“Ahh,” Doctor Ruiz shuffled the papers on his desk. “The tumour,” he repeated. “Is malignant. There isn’t much we can do. I’m sorry.”
“No,” Kayla pushed back tears. “No, I’m sorry. Excuse me”
As she left the Doctor’s office there was a ringing in her ears that wasn’t there before. The sound of nothingness approaching.
The parking lot had been near full when she had arrived but now it was almost empty. Her old brown sedan sat there lifeless and rotting. The registration has expired yesterday. She supposed that didn’t matter anymore.
In the car she put the key into the ignition and left it there. She cried. Then she hit the steering wheel and shouted. Dust blew off the dash with her screams.
In the centre console, among the crumpled tissues with old gum in them and the keys to her parents house she found her phone and called her brother. The screen on her phone was cracked and so all she could see when it dialed was the ank part of his name.
“Kayla, are you OK. Do you need me to come pick you up.”
“No,” Kayla wiped her eyes and sniffled. “No it’s fine, everythings fine.” She smiled through the tears. “Good news!”
Frank paused and said “That’s great!”
“Listen I was wondering if you and Jerry could mind the kids, just for tonight. I want to go out with the girls, celebrate and all that.”
“Sure, sure. See you tomorrow?”
“Of course. Yeah,” she could hear them in the background, muffled, high pitched voices. “Put the kids on?”
“Sure,” said Frank. “Mark, Susie, your mother.”
She pictured her brother holding out the phone in his left had the way he had done when they were kids and it was some boy calling for her instead of him.
“Mum, Mark’s cheating at Cards Against Humanity again.”
“No need to shout Mark.”
“He’s making fun of my answers.’
Kayla ran her hand over the steering wheel. “Susie that’s part of the game.”
“-Yeah that’s part of the game!-”
They went on like that while Susie told her Mum about the neighbours dog that was really friendly and wagged its tail a lot. How the neighbour, Mrs Scott, let them throw frisbee with Milo. How Milo had a huge tumour protruding from her ribcage and didn’t have long to live.
Finally Kayla said “Susie put Mark on the phone.”
“Is your sister gone?”
“She’s talking to Uncle Frank.”
“Which phone are you on. the study?”
“Um, the hallway.”
“Take the line onto the bathroom.”
There was muffled scuffling series of movements on the other end of the line. While this happened, Kayla became aware of how dirty the windscreen if her car was. How she could barely see out of it. How she couldn’t remember the last time she had cleaned it.
“Is the door closed?”
“Listen. I love you honey. You understand that?”
“Tomorrow I need you to do something.”
“In my bedroom, in the closet, at the back, you can pull away park of the wall.”
“Inside there’s an old Puma sports bag.”
“What’s in that bag is what your Father left us, what the police didn’t find. Honey that is ourmoney. But that doesn’t mean you can spend it all at once. Little bits, OK. Don’t draw too much attention to yourself.”
“Why are you telling me this?”
Kayla thought about Milo chasing the frisbee as she started the ignition to the car. “Mum’s got to take care of a few things,” she said.
“Mum,” Mark’s voice was very small on the phone. “I’m sorry.”
“No honey, I’m sorry.”
Parking Lot – A Short Story About Family Secrets by Sara Difrancesco, first appeared as part of the PROGNOSIS NEGATIVE Short List