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Chapter no 21

The Teacher

EVE

SO FAR, my birthday has not been particularly wonderful.

My husband outright refused my advances this morning, one of my stockings got a rip in it, and Addie Severson just referred to me as “ma’am.” The only good part of the day was that text message from Jay. And the present he has assured me I will receive.

During my free period, I return a phone call from my parents. It’s been ages since we talked. If I had to guess, I’d say we haven’t had a phone call since Father’s Day. We have become the sort of family that contacts each other on major holidays, and that’s it. So I’d imagine the next time I talk to them after this will be on Christmas.

I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen them. Three years, I think.

“Eve,” Mom says when she picks up the phone. From the echo, it sounds like she is on speakerphone. “Dad and I are calling to wish you happy birthday.”

“Thank you,” I say stiffly.

“Hello, Evie,” my father speaks up. “Happy birthday, honey.” “Thank you.”

We are so awkward and polite around each other. I never would have thought we would be like this. I was always close to my family when I was younger.

“Are you doing anything special tonight?” my mother asks. “Nate is taking me out to dinner.”

“How is Nate doing?” When my mother asks the question, I imagine her crinkling her face in disgust.

“He’s fine.”

“Any…news?”

My mother wants to know if I’m pregnant. It’s not clear whether she wants me to be pregnant or not. She’d like to have grandchildren, but with the way our relationship has been, who knows if she would ever see them? And I’m sure that she doesn’t like the idea of me having children with Nate.

“No news,” I say.

“Oh.” She lets out a sigh. She’s relieved. “Well, I’m glad you’re doing well. Do you think you might come out to New Jersey for Christmas?”

“Maybe.” We have visited Nate’s family for the last two Christmases. Technically, it should be my parents’ turn, but I’m not excited to see them and have them judge me. “I’ll let you know.”

The silence hangs between us. There are so many things left unsaid between me and my parents. But the biggest one of all is the thing that I am most reluctant to say:

You were right. I should never have married him.

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