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Family Trees

“What are you doing out here?”

Norma was sour. Larry could hear it in her voice.

“I’m planting a tree, Mom.”

Larry shielded his eyes from the sun to watch his mother stumble-stomp toward him. She wore a housecoat and slippers, same as every day in the four months since Lester died.

“We don’t need another tree,” she said, crunching her face into an even deeper frown.

Larry knew she resented him for moving home with his new wife, felt like he was trying to take over the farm. But he couldn’t leave her there alone, frail and forgetful as she was.

He smiled despite Norma’s mood, then turned back to digging.

“Well, you can never have too much fresh oxygen,” he said. “Besides, it’s time to give these two a companion.” He gestured to a pair of sycamores towering over the farmhouse.

“Whose idea was this?” Norma demanded.

Larry stopped again, leaned on his shovel. “Well, it was your idea, Mom.”

“My idea!” Norma shrieked. “You’re talking foolishness, boy! I just now walked out the door. How in tarnation could it have been my idea?”

Larry was smirking now. “Well, Mom, you were always telling Lance and me about how you planted these trees two years apart, one for each of us as soon as you found out we were coming.”

“That’s right. So?” She glared at him. He raised his eyebrows, shrugged a little. She inhaled sharply, and her face softened. “You don’t mean?”

Larry blushed, and his grin threatened to swallow his face. “I do mean, Mom. Laura is due in February.”

Norma turned an about-face and strode as steady as Larry had seen her move in years.

“Where are you going, Mom?” he called.

“Why, to get a shovel, of course!”

Published inFlash Fiction

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