A short story about a family argument that started because one person’s perception of the other was wrong.

The argument started simply enough.

“Now don’t be mad at me,” she said.

You know that whenever someone leads with that line, you’re not going to like what they have to say next. It’s kind of like when they start off by saying “with all due respect.” You can put money on it, they’ll be insulting you in the next sentence or two.

My sister stared at me, lids drooping a little over her almond shaped blue eyes. This wasn’t going to be good, I could tell. Whatever she’s done, she knows I won’t like it and she’s going to fight me on it.

I raised my eyebrows and leaned forward. “About what?”

She crossed her arms. “I took Bill to get his driver’s license.”

Bill is my seventeen-year old son.

“You took Bill where?”

“To the DMV. He told me he was ready, and you were too busy to take him. So, I did.”

I blinked, then sucked in as much air as I could. I was going to need it. Clever of her to tell me in a café. She knew I wouldn’t throw anything at her in public.

When I was able to speak, I asked her, “How could you do that?”

“We got in the car, and he drove…”

“Ha. Very funny.” I narrowed my eyes and glared at her.

“I know you wanted to take him yourself, next month. But he was feeling really bad, all his friends were driving, and…”

She trailed off. I guess she could see the rage smoldering in my eyes, my face turning red, my fingers clenched around my spoon.

“You should have called me first.” I bit my lip to keep from shrieking at her.

“I don’t see what you’re getting so upset about. Bill was feeling like you didn’t care if he ever passed the test or not. I know with Joe being gone it’s been tough on you.” She shook her head, letting her bleached blond hair swing around her face. “I was just trying to help out. Seems to me you’re being unreasonable.” She gathered up her purse and coat. “Selfish, really. Things always have to go your way, according to your plan. Think about someone else for a change.”

She shoved her chair back. “I’ve got to. And you’re welcome.” She stalked off, leaving me staring at my empty coffee cup, dish of half-melted ice cream and crumpled, soiled napkin.

Just like my plans.  The plans my well-meaning, buttinski sister had ruined.

My husband, overseas for a year, was due back in two weeks. We hadn’t told our son the exact date, wanting it to be a big surprise. And Joe, after missing a year of Bill’s life, of tennis matches and fishing trips, would at least be part of this teenage rite of passage and be the one to take our son for his driver’s license.





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