Blessing in Disguise

Scene 5

"So, it's been more than a week now, how are things going?"

Ama's familiar voice in her ear made Molly smile, but didn't fill her with the same level of desperate longing that it did just a few days ago. That might have something to do with making chocolate chip cookies in the stainless steel stand mixer. Why did she not always have a stand mixer? "Well..."

"Not a terribly informative answer, but not carpet-bombing like you have Tourette's, either." Ama laughed.

"Ya," Molly nodded, dropping a cup of chopped nuts into the mixing bowl. "I'm conflicted, really."

"So, let's break this down. Start with the smallest. How's Laz doing?"

"That dog is in the best shape of his life! He's discovered he loves swimming, and since I'm not working, he gets like three or four walks a day. Plus, this is a two story house, so he's added stairs to his racing around like a crazy man routine." Molly laughed at the thought.

"And Gracey?"

"Oh! Part of the public schools out here offers a daycare program in the mornings. Most of the kids in this neighborhood are in private schools, you know. So this is the tax-funded program for the maids' and gardeners' kids. So, girlfriend is learning Spanish. Multi-lingual at the age of three." Molly dumped in half a bag of chocolate chips, thought about it, and added the rest of the bag.

"And Kenny? How's he holding out?"

"His school is like geek paradise." Molly sighed, thinking of her son’s smiling face. He'd been so attached to Bill, and so confused by his death. "He's already been on one field trip to a science museum. And I've gotten permission slips for two more next month: an art museum, and a planetarium. Plus, he's been invited to two different sleepover parties."

"So, he's good?"

"Great, are you kidding! Kids sure are resilient." She turned off the mixer and dragged a finger thru the dough, heading straight to her mouth. Quality control.

"Both the kids are good. The dog is good," Ama paused.

"Yeah, I know. I'm the problem." Molly rolled her eyes, and went for a second finger-full.

"What's the problem? Something wrong with the house?"

"Nothing. At all. It's too perfect. Better than I could ever afford. But anything given can be taken away." Molly's hand dropped before it made it to her mouth, dripping dough on the floor. "I didn't earn this."

Ama's eyes rolled so hard they rattled through the phone line. She gave a loud, derisive snort. "You have an iron-clad lease. Next? And, with a little less melodrama, please."

"You know, for the woman who is my best friend, you're kind of mean sometimes." Molly looked down to see Laz lapping up the cookie-dough. She grabbed a towel off the counter and bent to clean it up. "You can't have chocolate," she whispered.

"I am honest, not mean. And I can have all the damn chocolate I want." Ama laughed. "So, you're not going to be suddenly forced to leave. And, even if you were, you have somewhere to go. You always have somewhere to go. That worry's resolved."

"Is it wrong that I kind of feel jealous of my kids?" Molly whispered, dropping the towel in the sink and shooing away a disappointed doggie. "They have stuff to do. People to hang out with. I'm suddenly just the chauffeur and the chef." She snorted a rough laugh. "I am not cut out for the whole stay-at-home mom-thing. Even if I did have the budget to keep it up."

"So, what you need is a job." Ama's voice was flat. "But I haven't had any calls for references."

"No kidding, a job and maybe even a few people my own age to talk with. But I've been so involved getting the kids set up, I'm lucky I remembered to shower."

"And that"s over now, right? Everyone's all set and happy, and you can go get a job, make some friends. Have a life?"

"In theory, sure, a couple of weeks should do the trick." Molly felt hesitant. Logic warred with instinct, but she couldn't identify the battlefield. She tucked the phone between her ear and shoulder, and began spooning up globs of batter onto a cookie sheet. Laz watched faithfully from nearby.

"So, what I'm hearing is that you think you might stay? That it might work out?" Ama prodded, a dog with a bone.

"I don't know, I mean, sure, in theory, it sounds doable." Hesitance. She just couldn't say anything definite because... "It's just that something about this house doesn't seem real."

"Like plastic, not real? Or like pinch me, I'm dreaming, not real?"

Molly pursed her lips, sliding the tray into one side of the double-oven. "More like buying a diamond mine for a dime. There's a cost for this little blessing, but I don't know what it is yet."

Silence played for a moment on the line. Finally, Ama took over with her best school-marm voice. "Molly, my friend, you do best when you have a goal and a deadline. So, here's what you're going to do. In the next two weeks, you are going to get a job, and find one friend. Coffee-level friend is find, you already have your BFF."

They laughed, and it only sounded a little tinny. "Okay, I'll bite. What's my prize, Mrs. Jacobsen?"

"Two weeks will put us about the middle of December. If you have completed this call, John and I will come out for Christmas." Her voice held a contained squeal of excitement. "It was his idea."

"Oh, my God, Ama. That would be so great! The kids will be ecstatic. But last minute tickets like that will be so expensive! Are you sure?"

"Eh, John's a disabled vet. As he likes to say, that chair will get him on any military flight he wants. And, I think the tough old bastard won't admit it, but he misses the kids, and wants us to be together for the holidays."

Molly felt her eyes fill with tears. And a little fear in her heart. Fabulous things like this, they didn't happen without a cost. She was building one heck of a tab, here.

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