Love Mercy

Love Mercy by Earlene Fowler Page B

Book: Love Mercy by Earlene Fowler Read Free Book Online
Authors: Earlene Fowler
Weren’t their styles ageless?
    Standing in the checkout line, she gazed down at her purchases. They would be the first gifts she’d given to her granddaughter in fourteen years: a box of tampons, a hot water bottle and a sweatshirt. What did they signify? She was always looking at how things connected, what they looked like on the surface as compared to what they really meant. A photo and column about gifts and what they symbolized started forming in her head. She loved the idea of using the offbeat sign describing the tampons as a great stocking stuffer. But she could never use these particular details. Imagine the embarrassment of a teenage girl’s grandmother writing about tampons. Love would write a column about presents, but it could not include the things that actually inspired the essay.
    It struck her with a pang how meager these gifts were. Would Rett stay long enough to celebrate Christmas? Maybe Love could do better if she stayed through the holidays. Christmas was only a few weeks away, but surely she would discover some hint as to what her granddaughter would like. Something to do with her banjo? The thought of shopping for someone she was related to by blood, her granddaughter , filled her with an inexplicable joy and an equal feeling of panic.
    On the drive back, she turned on the radio. The local oldies station was playing “Moon River,” one of Cy’s favorite songs, one of the songs that Magnolia performed at his funeral. Love hummed the melody, and when the song came to the words “my huckleberry friend,” her eyes didn’t tear up like they would have yesterday. Instead, she sang them softly out loud, her heart more hopeful than it had been in a long time.

    I have to talk fast,” Rett said to Lissa, her best friend and the only person in Knoxville who knew where she was. “I only have seventeen minutes left on my cell phone.”
    Lissa had given Rett the cell phone as a good-bye gift. It was one of those kind you can buy at Wal-Mart where you can add minutes, if you had the money. Rett had started out with sixty minutes.
    “What’s the deal with California?” Lissa asked.
    “It’s foggy. The Pacific Ocean is really cool.”
    “What about your grandmother?”
    Rett paused, choosing her words carefully. “She’s okay. Kinda nervous. She totally knows everyone in town. It’s like some kind of back-in-the-day TV show. She seems okay, but you never can tell.”
    “For sure.” Her friend’s voice was knowing. “Sometimes the ones who act the nicest are the ones you have to watch out for.” Lissa’s mother and father had been married seven times between them. She was experienced getting to know new people. Right now, she lived with her dad. “So, do you think you’ll stay?”
    “I don’t know, but at least I have a place to stay for tonight. I may go to L.A. in a few days.”
    “Sweet,” Lissa said. “Maybe I’ll hit my dad up for some bucks and fly out to see you.”
    Rett glanced nervously at the clock next to the bed. “My time is running out. Has my mom called again?”
    “Like only fifty times. It’s so funny. She’s even called my dad to tell him to tell me to tell her where you are. Like I’d even listen to what he says.”
    “Thanks. I just don’t want to talk to her right now. Don’t give her this phone number. Or Dale either. Promise.”
    “Okay, okay, I hear you.”
    Rett sat down on the bed, leaned over and ran her hand down Ace’s silky head. “She has an awesome dog. His name is Ace. He’s a corgi.”
    “If you get stuck and need money, just call me. I can squeeze some out of my dad if I have to. He’s dating a girl only five years older than me and feels all guilty. Ha, I’m like, who cares? Buy me a Wii and I’ll feel better.”
    “What’s her name?”
    “Ashley Clarabelle. Can you believe it? I call her Ghastly Clarasmell. She was a runner-up for Miss Apple Fritter or Miss Catfish Queen or something stupid. She weighs, like, thirty

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