by Jim Bates
English Breakfast Tea
Kay’s phone rang. She checked the screen and smiled. Mandy, her only daughter, lived in Seattle with her husband and two children. She managed a popular coffee shop and was ‘busy, busy, busy, all the time,’ as she laughingly told her mom whenever they talked. Kay appreciated her taking the time to call.
“Hi Mandy. How are you doing?”
“Hi Mom, all is well. I’ve got a couple of minutes waiting for Jessica’s soccer practice to end, so I thought I’d call and see how things are going with you.”
“I’m glad you did, sweetheart.”
“I’m actually wondering about Dad.
How’s he doing?”
“Oh, he’s fine.” Kay appreciated her daughter’s concern. She and Mandy shared a close relationship, and it was nice to chat frankly about her husband Don. “I told you before that he’s kind of been at loose ends since the pandemic.”
“Yeah, I hear you,” Mandy commiserated. “Who would have thought something like this would ever happen? It’s been a real challenge for us out here. We’ve finally been able to open up at fifty percent capacity, so we’re starting to get some money coming in. The kids can go back to playing soccer but have to wear their masks.” She paused. “We’re getting by. So, what about Dad?”
“Well, remember he took early retirement from the police force? That was six months ago, just before Covid hit. He did some projects around the house. Dug up a new bed in the garden. He started to read all those classic books he always said he wanted to like Moby Dick, which he barely got through.” Kay chuckled, “To be honest, between retirement and Covid, he’s had a lot of free time.”
“Get in your way, a little bit?” Mandy laughed. It was their euphemism for her father getting on her mother’s nerves.
“No. Not, too much.” Mandy heard her
mom sigh and smiled, thinking, Right, Mom, but didn’t say anything. Kay
continued, “But, he has a new hobby now.”
That got Mandy’s attention, “Really. What?”
“Well he was reading some science magazine and it said that silicon was used in making glass. You know your fathers always had a soft spot when it came to science.” Mandy furrowed her brow; she’d had no idea. Her Mom continued, “The article showed some photos of Chihuly glass, you know that fancy glassblower?”
“I know Chihuly really well, Mom. He’s got a showcase display here in Seattle. He calls it a garden. It’s a garden made of glass, and it’s stunning.”
“I saw the pictures. His work is amazing. Well, one thing led to another and to make a long story short, you father started taking classes on glass blowing. Fourteen lessons so far. He’s kind of obsessed.”
“Dad? Making glass?” Mandy chuckled, “He’s not the most creative guy.”
“No kidding. I remember when you were young, he was stumped by playdough. Couldn’t make a thing.
“I remember. Drawing for him was arduous.”
“Right, he had a tough time making stick figures.”
Mandy laughed, “Absolutely. They were pretty bad. So, where’s he taking classes?”
“At the Artist’s Coop in northeast Minneapolis.
It’s just him and the instructor and their masks. He’s over there now.”
“Has he made anything?”
“Not yet. But I guess today’s the big day It’s going to be his first project.”
“Let me know how it goes, okay?”
“I will, honey.”
“Look, I’ve got to go. The soccer practice is over.”
“See you sweetheart.”
A few days later Mandy called. “Hey, Mom. I wanted to know about Dad’s glass blowing project. He sent me a photo. I told him I thought it was nice, but honestly, I have no idea what it is. The deep red was kind of pretty, but the shape was awful. It looked like a bloody heart; you know, like something you’d get at a butcher’s shop.”
Kay laughed. “You’re being too kind.
I think it looks like a cross between road kill and something the cat upchucked.”
“Not really. I’m going to tell you one thing, though, I’m not going to show the kids. They’d have nightmares for the rest of their lives.”
“I hear you. I think your father got the message. He told me his instructor’s been called away on a family emergency and doesn’t know how long he’ll be gone.”
“Probably for the best.”
“So, now what’s up?”
“Well, you know your father, he likes to stay busy.”
“Got another project planned?”
“Yep. He wants to learn how to bake.”
“Bake?” Mandy laughed. “The man who couldn’t boil water?”
Kay grinned, “The one and only. I tried to talk him out of it, but he’s determined. He pictures himself as Chef Don.”
Mandy laughed. “Chef Don. I like that. You could get him a monogramed apron.”
Kay chuckled, “Not a bad idea.”
“Well, at least baking is harmless enough, sort of a no brainer.”
“I agree. I’ve got him started on cholate chip cookies.”
“Thanks. It should…” She was going to say, “It
should be pretty easy,” but, instead, said, “Opps. Gotta’ go.”
“Why? What’s up?”
“I smell something burning.”
Good old Dad, Mandy thought, and said, “Better hurry, Talk to you later, Mom.”
“For sure. Bye for now, sweetheart.”
Mandy hung up and sat for a minute looking at the photo of her father’s bleeding-heart glass project. The more she studied the odd shaped piece, the better she liked it. It was different. She liked the deep red color. He’d never be Chihuly but you had to start somewhere. Maybe there was some talent there after all. There was only one way to find out and was for him to keep taking lessons.
She about ready to call her mother, but then hesitated. Better wait a few minutes, she thought to herself. There was that issue with the burning cookies to deal. Best to wait until the smoke’s had time to clear.
Maybe until tomorrow.
About the author
Jim lives in a small town twenty miles west of Minneapolis, Minnesota. His stories and poems have appeared in over two-hundred online and print publications. All of his stories can be found on his blog: www.theviewfromlonglake.wordpress.com.