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The Difficulty

The Difficulty

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Published by cshaffr
A short story about a woman negotiating the emotional chasm that has formed between herself and her teenage son.
A short story about a woman negotiating the emotional chasm that has formed between herself and her teenage son.

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Published by: cshaffr on Aug 04, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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10/21/2014

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The Difficulty by Christopher Shaffer 
Lynne didn't intend to fall asleep in her car. Flipping the key in the ignition,turning the battery on, she flicked the buttons belonging to the door’s armrest,ordering the power windows to withdrawal. The breath of late spring, a flourish of ketones from lawns just pared, dispelled the cabin of the tepid viscosity of herexhalation.The alacrity of her iPhone’s vibration irritated the plastic of the cup holder shekept it in while driving. She answered it."Where are you?""Why?""Because I'm your mother and I have a right to know.""Oh yeah. huh."Lynne was silent."That was a joke.""I'm sorry, I just...woke up.""Oh. Okay, I'll let you go back to sleep.""Wait.""Yeah.""Where are you?""Oh yeah. I'm staying at Mike Korzeniewski's place tonight.""Are you asking me, or are you telling me?" An inhibited scoff made its way into the line."Can I stay at Mike's place tonight?""Do I have Mike's parents' phone number?""I'll text it to you.""So, no."
 
 
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"I told ya, I'll text it to you.""You told me?""Sorry.""For a minute there I thought you were asking me for something."Lynne could not recall whether or not she had met Mike Korzeniewski before.If they were close enough, him and Andrew, to be spending the night, she thought that she would have met him by now. This filament of the unknown splintered, lodgeditself into what was left of her Saturday afternoon. When it was six o'clock, threehours after the phone call, three more hours than were necessary to type in a series of digits and press send, she began to worry. This anxiety consorted with othersbelonging to an already copious ledger of existing worries and their immutablereminders of her recent inadequacies. Her inability to wake herself while parked onthe side of the road for two hours. Inadequate. Catching up on the sleep she lost earlier that week because she found a letter addressed to her son under a rock on herfront porch. Inadequate. Her son's name inscribed in ball-pointed block letters. Adequate people, adequate parents, would have thought nothing of this. Thedescription of its author’s unrequited affection would have been consideredendearing, even if the affection described came from another boy, which in this case, it had. The boy's name conscientiously positioned beneath the letter’s last line. The tendigits of his phone number demurely secured underneath it and the adjoining initialof his surname, K. Mike K. If she wasn't so completely inadequate, she thought, she would have recognized that this was Michael Korzeniewski. The boy whom she grantedher son permission to stay the night with. It shouldn't have taken longer than threeminutes to recognize this, not three hours. Inadequate.
She examined the letter now. The folds she refreshed with the heel of her handbefore she hid the letter in the one place in the house had the least possible chance of being found by Andrew (her underwear drawer), were now splayed before her, the
 
 
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page’s corners immobilized at opposite corners by a jewelry box at one corner of thepage and her iPhone at the other. Maybe there were two boys, two Mikes, whosesurnames began with the letter K? What if it wasn't the same boy Andrew wasspending this night with? What if it was and he already reached Andrew? Is that what she was calling it? Reaching him? Reaching for him? What if he already confessedeverything to him, knowing that everything he declared in the twelve lines of collegeruled notebook paper she was looking at had been intercepted, and were thusineffectual? What if there was a chance that he had felt the same way? Of thesequestions, the only one she could answer with certainty was the last one. The answer, with resounding certainty, was no; there was no chance. Before he learned how toscrub his network history to the conspicuous innocuousness of the home pages toGoogle, Facebook and Bing, she uncovered a licentious narrative of breasts, fellatioand multiply partnered lesbians. She had even seen him express his interest in theopposite sex, outside of these unrealistic ambits of virtual reality firsthand.She didn’t want to think about that right now.She didn't want to think about Mike K. either, but she knew that if Mike K.made a pass towards Andrew, that it would be rejected, that Andrew would leave MikeK.'s place and he would come home. Did she really have to wait for her son toexperience such a form of humiliation? What if Andrew didn't come home? Where were Mike K.'s parents? Were they home? Why didn't Andrew text her back?She grabbed the iPhone, assaulting the touchscreen’s glass with Mike K.’snumber. Her thumb about to press the call button, interrupted by the petit mal seizurethe device had after its receipt of a text message. Andrew's name dropped down in apartition at the top of the screen. Below his name, the very same text message she hadanticipated. It contained a phone number. A familiar number, considering she had just entered it into her phone no more than a few seconds before.
She could have had more answers if she had dialed. But she hadn't. Whateveranswers she needed could have waited until tomorrow morning, or if he came back

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