The phone rang. Caller ID said Maryland, the phone number began with 301. “I don’t talk to States,” Fiona said, and let it ring until it stopped. She continued chopping celery, chopping it into tiny little pieces, because Chloe doesn’t like celery. She also wasn’t using Ragu. She bought “fancy” sauce, on sale, though it looks better than it tastes and Robert always notices. She adds ingredients, veggies, ricotta, and sometimes meat. She won’t tell him that this is different. He’ll notice, and he’ll complain, and she’ll tell him that he’s crazy because he liked it the last time.
The phone rang again. It was her mother’s number. “Don’t answer it,” she said, but Lily answered it.
“Hi grandma!” she said.
While Lily talked to grandma Fiona got anxious anticipating when it would be her turn. “Lily, does grandma want to talk to me?”
“Hold on, Mom wants to talk to you,” she said and handed her the phone. Fiona gave her oldest a glare as she took the phone. “What?” Lily said.
“Hi dear, what do you want?”
“You called me.”
Fiona looked at her counter top, an unorganized assembly of ingredients.
“Lily said you wanted to talk to me.”
The water was boiling. The frying pan had oil and chopped onions in it, but the flame wasn’t on yet.
“No, I don’t. I’m making supper.”
“Well, excuse me.”
She turned on the burner and threw the chopped celery in the pan while holding the phone between her head and right shoulder.
“I’m just saying, you called me.”
She grabbed a box of pasta, opened it and poured it into the boiling water. She grabbed the phone with her left hand, and the spatula with her right and started stirring the veggies around.
“Hello?” her mom said.
“Why don’t you just tell me what you called for?”
“You seem exasperated.”
“No, mom, just everyday stuff.” She held the phone away from her and said, “Chloe, have you done your homework?”
“Yes,” said Chloe.
“Then take a bath!”
“That’s ok, I just wanted to know when the contribution was due for Lily’s band trip.”
“Last week, but you can just send it to me, I’m sure they’ll take it.”
“Is $25 enough?”
“Whatever you want to give, Mom.”
“That’s not very helpful. And what does Robert want for his birthday?”
“ROBERT!” she screamed into the phone, “Oops, sorry,” she held the phone away from her. “ROBERT!”
She stirred the veggies, then with the same spatula stirred the pasta noodles which had begun to stick to the bottom of the pot. “ROBERT!”
“WHAT!” he screamed back.
“Well, you didn’t answer me.”
“Yes I did.”
“Well, I didn’t hear you.”
“Grandma wants to talk to you.”
“Here Mom, you can talk to Robert directly, love you.” Fiona’s Mom grunted.
“Bye,” her mom said. Fiona hung up the phone, looked down and saw Robert standing there.
“Oh shit,” she said.
“You said the S-word,” he said.
Fiona laughed. She handed Robert the phone. “If Grandma calls back,” she said, “answer it.”