This story was chosen by the Ohio Writers’ Guild to represent their organization in the Columbus Invitational Arts Competition.
Leaving the Nest
Obnoxious Meets Nice
“This soup doesn’t taste good”. Terry slammed down his spoon. “Why did you make cabbage soup, Mom?” He got up from the table “You know I don’t like cabbage.” Mary Lynn’s adult son kicked back his chair, walked over to the sink and dumped his soup.
Mary Lynn’s face crumpled. He always liked my soup before he came home, she thought. He hasn’t looked for a job. He says he feels safe here with me. Mary Lynn tried to smile as she continued to eat her soup.
Terry went to the refrigerator and pulled out left-over meatloaf. “Why didn’t you serve this?” he grumbled as he threw the pan on the counter, got out bread and made two sandwiches.
Mary Lynn sighed. Meatloaf was to be tonight’s dinner, she thought. I have no more meat. He gets some money from the government, but he says it’s not much. If he would only contribute something to the household budget, it would help with groceries. He eats like a horse. I used to be proud of his size when he played football in high school. Now he just looks like a slob. Of course, I wouldn’t tell him. He’s served his country. I’m proud of my son.
Terry ate all of the meatloaf, downed a Coke and a bag of chips, burped loudly and shuffled out of the room.
The phone rang. Mary Lynn answered. “Hi, Mom, what’s that good for nothing brother of mine doing today? Has he swept the leaves from the roof yet?
Did he replace the overhead light bulb? Has he fixed the loose towel bar?”
Mary Lynn shook her head as if her daughter could see her. “No, but he will,” she said.
“I’m telling you, Mom, you need to kick him out right now,” Jessie said. “… before he becomes so entrenched that he can’t leave.”
“Where would he go? He doesn’t have a job.”
“Send him to a temp agency. Insist he get some type of job and move out.”
Mary Lynn switched the receiver to the other ear. “That’s easier said than done, dear.”
“He’s taking advantage of your retirement, Mom. You need time to do your own thing, not baby sit him. He’s still healthy, just lazy.”
Mary Lynn winced at that statement. If nothing else, she raised her children to be responsible. Terry was responsible, before he came back from Iraq. Now he said he was “readjusting”. His sister called it “mooching”.
“Don’t be too hard on him,” his mother said. “It takes time to readjust.”
“Well, he’s taken his time.” His sister added. “Tell him I’ll be over tomorrow at eight to take him for a job fair I just saw advertised on TV.”
“I don’t know about that. Are you sure it will work?” their mother said.