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Calling her mother was seldom a joyful occasion. In fact Gabrielle considered texting her the news of their upcoming trip to Philadelphia rather than calling but she knew that would only delay the inevitable. “If I text Mom she’ll just call for details about our trip,” she said more to herself than her husband.

Mariam Brewer had started singing her woeful tale nearly twenty five years earlier when she’d lost her son to war. Billy’s death had soon led to her husband deserting her and her bitterness only became deeper and closer to the surface when Adriel, the man she’d hoped would protect and care for her only remaining close family member, was instead transformed into a huge albatross around her daughter’s neck.

Gabrielle inhaled and turned her back on her husband as her mother answered the phone with, “Gabrielle? What’s wrong?”

“Wrong? Nothing’s wrong. Why do you ask?”

“Because you called me. You never call me anymore.”

“Oh, Mom you know that’s not true. Besides, I text or email you almost every day.”

“I didn’t say text. Texting is not talking. You only call me when something’s wrong. Oh, God! Is it Adriel?!”

Gabrielle frequently used the speaker function on her phone but had learned long ago that this was not a good idea if there was anyone else in hearing range when speaking to her mother. “Jesus, Mom. No. I said we’re fine. I was just calling to let you know that we’re going to head out of town on Friday. A little jaunt up to Philadelphia. I thought you should know, that’s all.”

“Wait. ‘We?’ You and Adriel? I thought he was, well, you know, on his last legs.”

“He’s not. We do go out. I told you we met Duvan at the bus stop then went to Bar Louie after my last eye exam.”

“Duvan? Oh, yeah. That Mexican busboy.”

“Nicaraguan. And he was very nice.”

“So who said he wasn’t? When are you leaving to go Philadelphia?”

“Friday.”

“Friday? As in this Friday? Whose lame brain idea was this all of a sudden?”

“Wow, you’re on a roll today. Mine, by the way. I want to go to Philadelphia. I’ve never been.”

“We’ve driven through Philadelphia.”

“So. Anyway. Adriel and I will be gone Friday but should be home Saturday. Just wanted to let you know.”

“Fine. Thanks. Have a nice trip.”

Gabrielle disconnected.

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