by Dallas Woodburn
“That sounds like a blueprint for disaster!” the TV mom says. She is gazing down at her daughter with a stern expression, but the audience knows she is only doing this because she loves the daughter so much.
“But Mom — ”
“No buts about it, young lady.”
“No buts about it, young lady,” Marnella says, imitating the TV mom's tone of voice and shaking her finger at the TV screen. She loves this show. Growing Pains. There is a mom and a dad and a brother and a sister. They have fights, but by the end of the show they make up.
“Mom, you're ruining my life!” the TV daughter shouts.
After Growing Pains comes Full House. Then Family Matters. And then Marnella's mom will be home.
A pebble jettisons against the living room window. Marnella looks out. No one is there. Still, uneasiness gnaws inside her. She dials the seven digits her mother wrote down on the Winnie-the-Pooh notepad on the fridge. It has a magnet on the back, that's why it sticks.
Marnella counts nine hollow rings before she gives up and returns the phone to its cradle. She turns up the volume on the TV.
The TV mom leans in to hug the TV daughter. The daughter is mostly turned away from the mom, but she still hugs back a little.
“I love you,” the TV mom says.
“I love you, too, Mom.”
“I love you, too, Mom,” Marnella whispers. Her voice sounds small, like the husk of something falling away. Outside, the streetlamps blink on.