A task from my writing course, to create a snapshot of a character that challenges the stereotype
Mum made the best shortbread. If a plate of it didn’t appear at some point during a family gathering there would be uproar. Mum was the sun around which our family orbited. Every Sunday afternoon we’d gather at her little three bed semi with our ever growing entourage of partners, children and pets for an afternoon of family based banter, endless cups of tea and the famous shortbread.
But Mum had a secret. A secret that would put an end to those long, lazy Sunday afternoons, basking in her light and warmth and shortbread.
For her 70th birthday two years ago, Mum had requested a computer. There had been a collaborative sigh as each of us wondered whether we would be the one tasked with showing her how to use it, but we obliged, clubbed together, and got her a nifty little state of the art laptop. We were surprised when she refused our tentative offers of help and informed us that she had found a group called Surfers of the Third Age, who gave free computer help to the over 60’s at her local library.
Nobody thought much more about it. Sunday gatherings continued. At first we would ask how she was getting on, hoping to get some laughs out of her attempts to conquer the virtual world but we were disappointed when none were forthcoming. She seemed to have taken to the world wide web like a teenager to Tinder, although she wouldn’t set up any social media accounts even though we begged her.
“Whats the point” she would say, ” I get to see your ugly mugs every week, why would I want to have access to your goings on 24-7?”
One Sunday, Mum wasn’t in when we arrived. We milled about on the drive as phone calls were made to various siblings who hadn’t turned up yet. Did they know where she was? Who had a key? Had anyone spoken to her recently? Darren, newest addition to the family (eldest sisters second husband and still at the stage of trying to impress us) was just about to shin up a drainpipe and into an open window, when Mum arrived in a taxi.
She scolded us as she struggled to open the front door with her handbag held under her arm and stuffed with a package that was too large for it. She really did not know what all the fuss was about. When we questioned her as to where she had been she got uncharacteristically defensive.
“Out, just out! I still have a life you know!”
she hurried upstairs with her bag still stuffed with the peculiar package.
That had been the beginning. If only one of us had been more astute, had challenged Mum about the package and Sunday morning taxi ride, perhaps the events that followed could have been prevented, but we were all too comfortable in our groove. Happy to keep circling in our orbits around her. No one wanted to be the asteroid that would send everyone spinning.
Mum managed to do that all on her own.