“How was the breakout?”
Except for his husband who went early for work, Sandra and his two children sat in front of the dining table, sharing a long breakfast together. She did most of the listening between their harmless bickering about love and relationships.
“We had fun,” Leyla displayed her elation while heartily eating her pancake. “Joey is the best.”
Eric was somewhat disappointed that her sister’s untried idea was a success; his plan to pair him with Liza’s younger brother seemed doomed as it stood at the moment.
“I am sure he was too kind to break your heart, especially right in their own house.”
“Aren’t you on my side?” she asked, her hurt look needed comfort rather than teasing. “My God, you’re supposed to be happy for me.”
“Should I be?” he wondered loudly, his motive biased for his sake. “You looked cheap with your stunt.”
Sandra eyed her oldest child with a silent rebuke. His comment was uncalled for.
“For your information, Eric,” she pronounced the name with a stronger stress, “you and your sister won’t be born if I waited for your father to court me.”
Both her children were in shock to hear the revelation. It was the first time she intimated details of those days past.
“You’re kidding, right?” Eric waited for the punch line to reverse the claim at some point.
“Now, I know why,” Leyla was more supportive. Her mother’s genes were passed on to her.
“Your father used to joke around, circling around me, keeping me in his sight but never going for the kill. He was like a strong and mighty predator but timid when it was time to attack.”
Sandra laughed, recalling an incident she would not relate to her children, but which should be told now to clear the air between them.
“When I saw your father the first time, I knew right there and then, he would be my long time partner. I think he felt the same. We were like Earth and the moon, I am Earth. Still is.”
Eric and Leyla stopped eating, turned their complete attention to their mother who seemed lost in a beautiful and rosy world.
“You see, your father needed the push,” she continued, her smile painted satisfaction. “One time, we joined this group celebrating a party for someone’s birthday. As always, your father flitted around, glancing toward me at any given time I wasn’t looking. Perhaps, I had a little too much to drink that night,” she erupted in a giggling fit.
“Come on!” Eric could not take the suspense. In secret, he wished to know his father’s move. In reality, he was in a similar situation that no one in the family knew.
“Ma, I have no idea,” Leyla pretended not to hear the drinking part.
“I shouted ‘coward’ out loud,” she revealed.
Leyla covered her mouth with a hand: Eric stared at his mother with disbelief.
“Well, everyone stopped whatever they were doing. Coincidentally, it was perfectly timed at the pause in between songs so the word was too clear not to be mistaken for another.”
She paused, drank water and continued.
“Your father’s face turned red: he looked like a bull, angered to gore anyone on its path. He marched straight to me.”
“Then, what? What?” Eric begged, his mother enjoying every minute of it..
Leyla sat contented, savoring the moment with a special grin. She planned in her head a similar attack when the time came.
“I said, I mean Howard,” she laughed again. “No one believed me.”
“Ma, I’ll walk out of here if you do not finish the story right now,” Eric warned.
“You father gave me big smack on the mouth.”
“He punched you?”
“Yes,” Sandra laughed longer. “With his lips.”
(to be continued)