The Wound Collectors: A Short Story

Penelope Clark scowled at Dorothy June, her eldest daughter. “If you’d just done as I had told you to do, you wouldn’t be in this mess.”

“Uh?” Dorothy June tossed the baby wipe into the garbage pail. Courtland gurgled and jammed his chubby fingers into his mouth. She lifted him up and laughed. “Sweetie, my sweetie.”

“You aren’t listening to me,” Penelope shouted while following Dorothy June into the living room.

Dorothy June began to pack her son’s toys, diapers, and bottles into the diaper bag.

Penelope gasped, and furrowed her brow. “Now, what are you doing? Where are you going in such a hurry? You haven’t been here a half hour. I guess you can’t spare an hour of your precious time for your own mother, I guess. Right? Did I offend you? You’re too thin skinned. Always have been.”

Dorothy June reached for her car keys. “Mom, I’m meeting James at Kirby’s for lunch. It slipped my mind. Some other time, okay?”

“Slipped your mind? You’ve got time for everyone else, except your mother. Well.”

Dorothy June headed for her SUV. Inside, she sat behind the steering wheel for a few minutes to stop her hands from trembling. Courtland’s wide blue eyes stared at her from his car seat. His tiny pink lips began to curl into a frown.

She touched his little head. “Mommy’s okay, Courtland. I’ve decided that we should go to the beach instead. Grandma doesn’t know how to stop poking at me. Change of plans, sweetie. I’d planned to visit with her all afternoon. I just can’t.”

She glanced at her cell phone and counted the fifteen text messages her mother had managed to send in ten minutes. Angry words spewed across the screen at Dorothy June. “I’m going to just turn it off, Courtland.”

Heading down the interstate, she exited at the beach access road. Her husband, James, wouldn’t be home from his business trip until Sunday afternoon. Her mother didn’t have to know that.

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2021