Our meal is silent. Clinks of silver against porcelain and honks of flying geese are our only disturbances.
“What happened, sweetheart?” she finally asks. A glass is set down on te table, and I know only a few droplets of zinfandel remain.
“What do you mean? Nothing happened.” I'm not as good of a liar as I used to be. The words catch and burn on my tongue instead of gliding.
“Isaiah, don't you dare lie to me.”
“I don't want to talk about it, Ma.” That one's only half of a lie. I need the thoughts out of me, but I don't want to talk it out with my mother. Somehow, that's worse than letting them simmer and gnaw.
I can feel her stare, know she's contemplating whether the subject is worth pursuing.
Please don't please don't.
She sighs. “Okay, baby. Just let me know if you change your mind.”
“I will, Ma.”
“Because you know you can talk to me about anything.”
“Right. I'll stop meddling, promise.” she says, and she sounds miserable.
I can't not alienate anyone, can I?
I'm sure she's running a finger around the rim of her wine glass, concentrating too much, trying to get ahold of herself.
She clears her throat, and her chair scrapes the floor as she pushes away from the table. “You done, sweetheart?” A peace offering. A change in subject.
“Yeah. Thanks, Mom.” I try to smile, and I hope it's not completely pitiful.
Ruffling my hair, she tells me goodnight, and the loneliness begins to seep in.