A Slice of Teddy
Teddy married a Korean woman because his mother talked so much. His mother-in-law Helen had a big heart, but she could not get the grandchildren to sleep and she did not speak English. A small price to pay for quiet.
Teddy’s mother knew everyone. As a child Teddy did not even like to go to the store for milk, he knew that it would take an hour. Teddy didn’t care about the checker’s boyfriend and how he was a beautiful musician, he didn’t care how the butcher’s hands went raw from endless chopping and carving. Teddy wanted his milk so he could have cold cereal in the morning before going off to school where it was blissfully quiet.
If you say “Bless her heart” before speaking, you can say anything you want about a person, but Teddy only felt that way about Helen. Helen always brought fruit over to the house as a special treat for the grandkids (sometimes Teddy neglected the shopping), and Helen loved KFC! Everyone came to know that “Family Night” was fried chicken, coleslaw and mashed potatoes, and everyone went to sleep that night full and smiling, especially Helen.
So really it was only “Bless her heart, she doesn’t speak English” and that was all Teddy could say in any less than 100% positive light. If he had tried the same thing with his mother he wouldn’t know where to start and he definitely would not know where to stop.
No one knew where Teddy’s wife was. Helen didn’t even know. She had gotten a collect call once from an off-strip apartment hotel in Las Vegas but did not know beyond that how to find a person, and was really okay with her daughter not being found. Teddy thought so too.
Teddy’s mother did her share of grandmother duties. She was a perfectly coifed, perfectly dressed woman who would take off her very expensive shoes to climb up on the top bunk and cuddle Danielle, the oldest of her grandkids. The younger one was still in a crib so she cuddled him in a chair before putting him to bed. Really that was the only time Teddy’s mother was quiet, when she was putting the grandkids to bed. Teddy used to wish she would only come over after 8 at night when she would quietly do nurturing things before taking Helen home.
They were a beautiful and very cosmopolitan family with a striking resemblance to each other although no one looked alike. Perhaps they were tied together by Teddy’s lost wife but no one talked about it. Teddy wondered sometimes about finding another wife, but he knew that in his case he would need another mother for his children as well. Usually second wives step back, they know they are not the mother so they hesitate to do the hard things. Teddy needed help with it all, and he also wanted a woman he loved for his own.
He wanted a woman who would climb in the top bunk and cuddle Danielle, then climb in his bed and make fierce, loving love with him. Each night, when it was finally quiet, his voice echoed a small wish for this miracle to come true.
About the writer:
Tobi Alfier (Cogswell) is a multiple Pushcart nominee and a multiple Best of the Net nominee. Her current chapbooks include Down Anstruther Way (Scotland poems) from FutureCycle Press, and her full-length collection Somewhere, Anywhere, Doesn’t Matter Where is forthcoming from Kelsay Books. She is co-editor of San Pedro River Review.