Literary Yard

Search for meaning

By Dawn DeBraal 

 Kennedy Hyde sat across the table from her boyfriend, Sam Colbert. They’d been dating for eight months, and things were going well. 

“So next week is your birthday.” Sam brought up the subject. 

“Don’t remind me. I am turning thirty! How did I get so old?” Sam chuckled.

“You aren’t that old. I’m older.”

“True. I shouldn’t be dating such a grandpa!” She laughed, sipping her coffee. They met early most days before going to their respective jobs. He worked in accounting on the fifth floor, and she was part of the administrative pool on the third floor. Sometimes just to gather for morning coffee was all they needed.

“I wanted to take you out for a special birthday dinner, but my mom is coming to stay with me. She is looking for an apartment in town now that she’s sold her house.”

“Oh, that’s right. I am so glad you can give your mother a hand. It must be lonely now that your dad is gone.”

“It’s been five years. Mom doesn’t want to mow lawns or clean sink drains anymore. I get it. We’ve found a few nice apartments we will be looking at.”

“My father lives in Brownstone Villa.”

“I hadn’t thought about that place.”

“It’s a fifty-five-plus community, with a pool, sauna, pickleball courts, shuffleboard. You name it, and it’s all included in the rent.”

“I will have to look into that. None of the apartments I found were Senior Housing. It would be better for mom to meet people her age.” Kennedy hastily wrote her father’s condo complex address down on the back of her business card sliding it across the table. 

“Give them a call. They are subsidized if your mother is low-income.”

“Great, I’ll call them today. It’s getting late; we should go.” Sam pushed back his chair rising to leave. Kennedy stood on her tiptoes to kiss him goodbye. They wouldn’t walk into work together; no sense in starting a rumor mill. 

She waited a few minutes and then followed him out the door. There wasn’t a policy that said fellow employees couldn’t date, but some people got jealous, so they didn’t make their relationship public.

When she arrived home from work, Kennedy picked up a call from her father.

“Birthday girl! I would like to take you out for a nice dinner on Saturday at Standke’s, along with your boyfriend, it’s time we met.”

“I’d love to, Dad. But Sam won’t be able to go, his mom is coming to stay with him while she looks for an apartment, she just sold her house and is moving to Stockton.

“Bring her with. Might as well meet the family.”

“I’ll ask Sam. Thank you, Dad, that’s very generous.” Kennedy called Sam and invited him to her birthday celebration, extending the invitation to his mother. This was a big step, birthday, and their families meeting one another. 

“That’s a wonderful idea. My mom doesn’t know anyone other than me in town; it would be a nice way to introduce her to Stockton.”

On Saturday, Kennedy met her father at the restaurant. He had made reservations at the nicest table. They chatted until she saw her father rise with a huge smile on his face.

Kennedy turned around to see Sam and Clara making their way to the table. Clara hugged Kennedy, wishing her a happy birthday before Sam did. 

“Dad, this is Sam, his mother, Clara.” Chet shook hands with Sam and then took Clara’s hand gently. He pulled her chair from the table, allowing her to sit next to him. Clara blushed.

“It’s so nice for us to meet,” Chet said pleasantly. Kennedy was shocked. Her father was charming and wonderful to Sam’s mother. Chet turned his attention to Sam, asking questions about what he did. Kennedy politely asked Sam’s mother if she had seen some apartments. 

“Yes, I’d like to thank you for telling Sam about Brownstone Villa. What a lovely place. It has a lot of activities. If I moved into an apartment, they wouldn’t offer opportunities to meet other people. I haven’t signed a lease agreement but am leaning that way.”

“I live in Brownstone Villa,” Chet piped up. Kennedy wasn’t sure, but she thought he seemed to beam. 

The evening meal went well. Kennedy was pleased that their parents got along famously. Chet offered to show his apartment to Clara and promised Sam he’d have Clara home in an hour or so. Kennedy rolled her eyes, watching their parents walk out together.

“So much for my birthday cake,” she pouted.

“Don’t worry; I ordered you a piece of carrot cake on my way to the washroom.” Just as he said this, the wait staff came out singing Happy Birthday with a single piece of cake bearing a candle. Kennedy shared it with Sam.

“This was a wonderful birthday,” Kennedy said as Sam escorted her to her car. He kissed her good night and made a joke about having to go home and wait up for his mother.

“If it weren’t for our parents, I would have given you a special treat tonight.” Sam winked. Kennedy laughed and drove off, leaving Sam in the parking lot. 

He was a special man and he checked all the boxes. Kennedy was glad they had gotten through the awkward first dates relatively smoothly. And now, she felt a strong pull toward him. Maybe in a few months or a year, they will be engaged. She shook that thought off and drove home. At eleven-thirty, Sam called her. 

“What is the apartment number where your dad lives?”

“Why?”

“My mother isn’t home yet, and I’m going over there to make sure she’s okay.”

“Sam, let me call my Dad; I’ll get right back to you.” She punched in her father’s number, surprised when he answered so quickly.

“Hello?”

“Dad, it’s me. Where is Clara?”

“She’s right here. We’re having a blast. Did you know we went to the same college?”

“Dad, It’s nearly midnight! Sam is worried about her.” Clara took the phone from Chet.

“Kennedy, I’m sorry we lost track of time. I will call Sam and straighten this out. Don’t you worry.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Colbert.”

“Please, dear, call me Clara.”

“Alright, Clara. Good night.” She wondered how Clara would handle her son. After all, she moved across the state to live in the same town as him. Kennedy was glad it was Saturday. She snuggled back into her bed, ready to go back to sleep, when the phone rang fifteen minutes later.

“Hello?”

“It’s me. My mother is spending the night with your father. They are too tipsy to drive, she told me.”

“He does have two bedrooms. Sam, my father, is a gentleman. He’s sixty-eight years old. Don’t worry. He’ll have her home in the morning.” 

“Can I come over?” 

“It’s almost midnight!”

“Well, if my mom’s not coming home, I can stay out late.”

“You sound like a ten-year-old.” Kennedy laughed. “Sure, come over.” Sam coming over was the icing on her birthday cake. 

They were wrapped in each other’s arms when Sam’s cell phone rang, and he grabbed it off the nightstand early the next morning.

“Hello? Mom? What? I stopped for coffee; I’ll be home in fifteen minutes. Sorry.”

“Cripes!” He jumped out of bed, ramming his legs into his pants.

“What?”

“Mom’s waiting outside my apartment. It’s six-thirty in the morning.”

“They’re old people. They get up early.” Kennedy said. Sam put his shirt on and hopped around, trying to get his shoes on.

“There’s a coffee shop next door. I’ll call an order in.”

“What?”

“You can’t come home without coffee; you told your mom you were getting coffee.”

“Oh, yeah. Thanks.” He reached across the bed and kissed her. “Happy Birthday.” 

Sam raced down the steps, picked up the coffee order next door, and drove home. Clara was waiting with Chet at his door.

“I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to lock you out.”

He handed one of the cups of coffee to Clara; sighing, he passed the other to Chet, unlocking his door.

“Hmm, good coffee,” Chet said. “This shop is next to Kennedy’s apartment.” Dead silence. Sam didn’t know Kennedy’s father would be here waiting for him. But then Chet was a gentleman; he wouldn’t have left Clara out in the cold. 

“We have some talking to do,” Clara said once inside. Chet kissed her and closed the door, saying goodbye and thanking Sam for the coffee.

“What was that?” Sam asked incredulously.

“Oh Sam, don’t be naïve. Chet and I spent the night together just like you did with his daughter.”

“Mom!” Sam put his hands over his ears, not wanting to think about what his mother had just told him.

“For heaven’s sake, you are thirty-four years old; grow up.”

“But you just met the guy.”

“Should I have waited for the third date? Sam, I am sixty-three years old. Chet and I don’t have a lot of time to waste. We discussed it last night. He has two bedrooms and two bathrooms; we will split the rent. He is a wonderful man, and I like Kennedy, too.”

“It’s just weird, Mom.”

“I know, dear, but you know me. I go for what I want, and this is what I want.” Sam couldn’t add anything. His mother knew her mind, and Kennedy’s dad seemed to be a nice man. He wondered what his girlfriend would say to this news. 

The phone rang.

“Hello?”

“Sam, it’s me. My father just left. Do you know they are planning on living together?” 

“That’s what I heard.”

“They’ve only just met. This is ridiculous.”

“Mom says she has no time to waste; your dad seems like a great guy.”

“He is. But it’s so fast.”

“I know, but they seem to want to be together.”

“I know.” Kennedy lamented. “Does that make us brother and sister?” Sam laughed.

“No. Stepbrother and sister only if they married. No blood. We can still get married.” Then he formed an “O” with his mouth. Had that come out?

“Do you mean if we married before them, we wouldn’t be brother and sister?” Kennedy joked. She could feel Sam’s discomfort and was enjoying it.

“Let’s talk about it tomorrow, okay?”

“Over coffee?”

“Yes.”

“See you in the morning.” Kennedy hung up the phone, giggling at Sam’s discomfort. She would let him off the hook tomorrow, but it felt good that he discussed a future that included her. 

Sam sat on his bed next to the nightstand and pulled open the drawer after hanging up the phone. A velvet box opened to a solitary diamond in a beautiful setting. Until his mother came, he was going to propose to Kennedy on her birthday, but Clara’s visit stopped that from happening.

He decided he would ask the woman of his dreams tomorrow over coffee before Kennedy’s father decided Sam’s mother was the woman of his dreams. He snapped the box shut, returning it to the drawer, humming, “Here Comes the Bride,” then he went to tell his mother the good news.

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