Parting: Are You My Mother?

Act I: Racine, Scene 21: Parting

Exterior, bright, bitter cold (-5F), 7:45 am, Thursday, February 12, 1981. Hotel vestibule in downtown Racine, Wisconsin. Glen, age 16, and his mother Rita stand in the vestibule in heavy parkas, waiting in awkward silence.

Rita:       Can you give me Lori’s phone number? I may want to talk to her some times… we have a common interest, you know.

Glen gives the number without looking at her. A taxi pulls up.

Rita:    Here’s my ride. Well… good bye, Glen.where is my mother

As he stares at the cab, suddenly across his mind flashes a jumble of illustrations from two children’s books. In one, a lost mouse tries to find his way across a city street with the tires of a taxi bearing down on him. This is confused with images from “Are You My Mother?”, in which a lost hatchling wanders from one wrong animal to the next and is scooped up by a huge steam shovel. Glen’s whole body shudders. Without looking at her, he holds his mother in an embrace that is both stiff and desperate. She sniffles and exits into the bone-breaking cold.

Interior, hotel room. Glen is packing up his suitcase. Knock at the door. He admits Lori, blond, cute, 17 or 18. She removes her white down jacket and he takes her hand. They speak little. The phone rings.

Glen (answering):        Yes?

Gerry:  The car is here, let’s go.

Glen:   I’ll be right down, Lori just walked in, we’re just saying goodbye.

Gerry:  Oh… well, be quick.

Glen:   Okay. [hangs up] I’ve got to go.

What did they say to each other? Your author does not remember. He remembers how it felt: dreadful, terrifying, and beautiful. He had parted from friends before. It was always miserable. This was different. He adored her.

He takes her in his arms and they gently kiss. The phone rings.

Gerry:  Get down here already! I will not start out by missing this flight!

Glen:   Okay, okay! [hangs up] Let’s go.

Exterior, sidewalk, hotel side entrance, bitter cold. Glen throws his suitcase into the trunk of a large car, rented for a one-way trip to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. He slams the trunk, opens the passenger-side door, turns to his girlfriend with the golden hair cascading over the white down jacket, plants a quick kiss on her bluing lips, hugs her around the neck with one arm, buries his nose in her hair.

Glen (whispers):          I love you, Lori.

Lori (whispers):           I love you, Glen.

They part, she presses a letter into his hand, and as she turns away he catches a glimpse of a brave smile. She heads downhill towards her car. He gets into the rental,  pulls the door shut, and immediately his father pulls the car away from the curb. His sister Kim, 18, good-looking, dark-haired, is in the back seat.

PartingKim (mutters):             ‘Bout time.

Gerry (voice tight and a little high, trying to do something with his tension):  So where did you meet her?

Glen (with forced brightness, a small part of his brain wondering how his dad can ask such a thing when he knows perfectly well, but glad for something to say): At my New Year’s Eve party! [turns to the window and presses his forehead against the bitter cold glass to hide his tears from his father]


7 thoughts on “Parting: Are You My Mother?

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