Tell Me You Love Me(7)

By: Julie Prestsater


*

“I made you breakfast. Come over.” My mom doesn’t even say hello when I answer the phone. She just gives orders.

“On my way,” I tell her, knowing full well I can’t decline her offer. Not that I would anyway. IHOP doesn’t have shit on her pancakes.

“See you in a few. Love you.”

“Love you, too, Mom.”

She lives on the other side of town, but it takes less than twenty minutes to get to her because the morning traffic came and went before my shift was over.

“That was fast,” Mom calls when I open the front door to her house.

I make my way into the kitchen, following the scent of melted butter and cinnamon. “I’m hungry.”

She swats my hand away as I reach past her to steal a pancake off her serving platter. Who needs a plate? I just want to roll up the flapjack and eat it like a sweet tortilla.

“What are you, a toddler? Get a plate and sit your ass down at the table.”

Shaking my head at her, I chuckle aloud. “And you? Are you a truck driver? Watch your mouth, young lady.”

My mom smiles widely, her eyes wrinkled in the corners. “You got me, Ryan. You got me.”

We both serve ourselves breakfast. I pile five large pancakes high on my plate, smother them in more butter, and even add some fresh strawberries. I set my food on the table before I serve each of us a glass of orange juice.

“They don’t feed you at the station?” Mom asks, teasing me about my rather large appetite.

“We eat plenty,” I tell her. “I just went for a run this morning after shift. I was going to go home and make a shake, but this is much better. Thank you.”

With each taste, I close my eyes savoring every bite. I love my mother’s cooking. It’s one of the things I missed most about being away. Well, besides my mom and little sister.

“Tell me about your first shift back. How did it go?” she asks.

I finish chewing before I respond. “It was cool. Good to work with Justin again.”

“So it’s boring?” Apparently, my mom can still read my expressions.

“Not entirely. Just slow. The most action we got was hiking up a hill. Otherwise, I would have gone the full shift without working up a sweat.” It’s the truth. Without PT, I’d be climbing the walls, completely bored out of my mind.

“Maybe you should start a profile on one of those dating sites. You’re a computer geek. I’m sure you can figure it out. You think your life is boring. I need some grandchildren.”

Oh shit. Here she goes. I love my mom, but get her going on my dating life and the need for me to plant my seed, and we’ll be here all fucking day. I don’t know what her obsession with little chubby babies rolling around on the floor is about.

“I’m not interested in online dating, Mom.” A smile creeps across my face as I think of the woman I met yesterday. She was real. Not some cyber chick. I wipe the smile away before my mother notices. “Sorry, no cyber babies for you.”

“Oh really?” She gives me one of those knowing, “Mmm hmms.”

Shit. She saw my smile.

“Did you meet someone already, Ryan?” Now, she’s the one to shake her head at me. “You just got home, son. Damn, you work fast.”

“No, I didn’t meet anyone.” I don’t know why I’m lying. She’ll get it out of me before I finish my last pancake. I take a sip of my orange juice, stalling, hoping she’ll move on. Fat fucking chance.

“Did you forget I’m your mother? I’ve studied your ass for the last twenty-six years. You can’t hide anything from me,” she says, regurgitating the same lines I’ve heard since I can remember. “You may as well spill it or you’re not getting any apple pie.”

Dammit. She’s just mean.

“Sorry, Mom. There’s nothing really to spill.” I hold up my hands, palms to the ceiling like, what can I say? “Justin introduced me to a group of neighborhood women yesterday, but that’s it. I only talked to one of them really, but nothing to write home about.”

A chuckle rumbles up from my stomach when I think about the exchange between Lizzy and me.

“Well, was she cute?” she asks.

“Adorable,” I blurt out before I have the sense to take it back.

“Adorable?”

Fuck it. “She was beautiful, actually. Cute too. Adorably cute and beautiful with a potty mouth like yours,” I say, pointing at her with that last bit.

“Ha ha,” she says with a laugh. “What did she say?”

My mom is definitely amused. She pushes her plate to the side and leans forward with her elbows on the table, waiting for me to tell her more.