Honestly, Ben didn't know what his mother wanted him to tell her. "Everything is fine." As well as could be expected. Mae wasn't quite herself, or maybe she actually was. Moody. Determined to stand her ground with the single life. She didn't even like eating with him and Caden. She often skipped meals with them, so she could eat her noodle bowl and watch Korean dramas on Netflix.
They were not a normal family, but who was? Besides, it was going to be a lonely Thanksgiving. Wasn't it? Maybe Taylor and Sara would stop by, but he had his doubts. It might as well be any other dinner here. The four of them together at the kitchen table.
But his mother was cleaning up. Really throwing out stuff. Making room, even in the closets.
"What's happening?" True, he was a little dazed. After all, he was doing the majority of the inventory of the library, which meant taking a scanner connected to an old laptop and beaming barcodes. It was not a fun job. At first he had to load up the smaller collections on a cart, take them to the back, Scan the inventory, then take it back out on the floor and put it back in correct order. Ben was the first to admit, he was not always prepared to do so. Sometimes, he could get a bit foggy. Start thinking about something Caden said. And BOOM, he might be asleep with his eyes open. He was tired, but happy.
"Oh, didn't I tell you, we've got company coming." She was all smiles, as if she had a little secret, but wasn't quite ready to share it with him. "You'll, find out tomorrow."
"What's tomorrow, Dad?" Caden came running in, ready for supper. Grandma had a stew going, and there were biscuits on the table.
"Dad!" Mae shot him a look with a sour face. She crossed her arms, as if he'd gone too far this time. "Who told him!" She looked at Myra who was getting the milk out of the fridge.
Then Ben looked at her as if Mae needed to stay quiet.
"What?" Now Caden was looking at her. Ben dropped to his seat while Caden sat on the booster chair next to him. She looked at both of them, as if they had it in for her.
Mae could hardly eat. She didn't know Caden knew. She thought she might choke on the biscuit. Seriously, she felt like walking all the way to the diner, in the cold to see Gun. The times she'd been to the diner lately, he wasn't there.
Sometimes, she thought no one wanted her.
"He doesn't know." Ben whispered while he washed the dishes after supper and Mae watched the dishes dry in the drainer.
"Oh." She was still mad though. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"Because, you don't have time to listen to me. You, like being by yourself." He told her. She thought he might be crying. Maybe it was a cold.
She sighed. Ben might have been right. She was a cold shoulder. Possibly, her own worst enemy.
"He just wanted to call me, Dad, so I let him." She could barely hear him over the rinsing of dishes. Finally, she went to drying.
A part of her felt it wasn't fare. She would always be Auntie Mae to Caden. Half the time, Caden stepped on her toes, or elbowed her when she was near, hoping..maybe..he might give her a hug. It was Ben who got all the hugs and laughter.
Suddenly, Caden came in with a rush of excitement. A CHARLIE BROWN THANKSGIVING was on TV. "Come on, Dad." He pulled at the back pockets of his chinos.
"I better get this done." He turned to him. "You, take Aunt Mae. She'll watch with you."
"OK." Caden took her hand and pulled her along. Here, Ben had given her a moment with their son, and she could hardly take it, but soon enough Caden was in her lap, wiggling, happily. She even got a kiss on the cheek.