Make Waves: an excerpt

I haven’t put out snippets or anything for Make Waves, and I thought, “That’s not fair…” So, today’s the day I fix that. Here’s a scene with the Scott brothers and their mom. The narrator for this is Max.

The next night, Will, Jon and I are at Mom’s for dinner. She didn’t cook; Will brought something that smells amazing from Shea’s test kitchen. It doesn’t really matter what it is–I know it will be locally sourced, healthy and delicious.

Mom has more color in her face than I’ve seen in a while, and more energy, too. Even though I offer to set the table, she insists that I allow her to be useful while she can be.

While Will follows his wife’s specific instructions for reheating the dishes, Jon and I sit in the living room and catch up. “How’s home life?” I ask him. “All the girls?”

He nods. “We’re all good. Liv says hi. The girls miss you and Callen. You guys need to come over.”

“After the trip to Washington,” I tell him. “We’ll take them out to dinner or something.”

“Oh, they’d love that.”

“Any talk of… more kids?”

He laughs. “Livvy and Shea are plotting. They have a grand plan to raise one at the same time.” He rolls his eyes.

“You don’t want to have another one?”

“Oh, I’d like to… maybe try for a boy. I’d be fine with either. But Shea and Will aren’t ready yet. Sorry. Will isn’t ready yet. He’s going to go work with NASA and the Fermi team next year, and that may put him out of the country for a few months. He doesn’t want to leave Shea on her own.”

“Yeah, I forgot about that.”

“But our brother’s going to work with NASA,” he says, nodding with a prideful grin. I smile, too. “Are you looking forward to your trip? When do you leave?”

“Sunday morning, and fuck yeah. I cannot wait.”

“How’s your arm feel?”

I flex my fingers and wrist. “It’ll be fine,” I tell him with a cocky expression. “Holding a paddle’s easy. The motion only bothers it a little.”

“Good.”

“Why don’t you guys get off your asses and eat before I take it all?” Will says loudly from the kitchen.

“Will, stop,” Mom admonishes him, even though he was joking and neither of us took him seriously. Of course, we are going to the dining room table to get our fair share.

Jon offers Mom the chair between him and me, smirking at Will and me because we didn’t think of it first. It wasn’t that he was simply the first. Will and I were sitting down. We literally didn’t think of it.

“Thank you, Jonny,” she says.

“You’re welcome, Mom.”

“You look really nice today, Mom,” I tell her.

“I already told her that,” Will says, just to be troublesome.

“Me, too,” Jon pipes up.

“So? Can’t I tell her, too? I was gonna say so earlier, Mom, but Will wouldn’t shut his fat, fucking mouth.”

“Whoooooa!” Jon and Will both shout. Will shakes his head in mock disapproval.

She laughs at us.

“Sorry, Mom,” I say, smiling sheepishly and giving her a peck on the cheek.

“It wouldn’t be a family dinner without the cursing,” she says, patting my leg. “I gave up long ago. Can I say grace, though? To balance it out?”

She prays while the rest of us listen; she knows we all have our own beliefs or disbeliefs, and at this point in her life, she’s accepted all of us as we are. After switching churches about five years ago, her outward views changed, and love and tolerance became her new core values.

“Amen,” she says. Jon and I say it with her; Will nods.

All three of us make sure Mom has food on her plate before we take any, so at least we’re all in sync there. Once we all start eating, my mother glances at each of us and smiles.

“I got my results back yesterday.”

Jon sets down his fork. “Mom, I was going to go with you. You were supposed to call me.”

“I wanted to go alone, Jonny. It’s okay.”

She swallows and closes her eyes for a second; her lashes become wet with tears.

“What is it, Mom?” Will asks.

“There is good news,” she starts. “The TACE did what it was supposed to do. It shrank the tumors in my liver.”

“That’s great,” I say, holding her hand. It’s very cold.

She crinkles her nose and one of the tears drips down her cheek. “But the prognosis isn’t any better. In fact, my liver function is worse… he says one to three years.”

I bite my lip to keep from crying. My brothers maintain stoic looks.

“What can we do?” Jon asks. “What’s left?”

“He said we could go through another round of TACE in a few months and see if that can shrink it further–”

“Then we’ll do that.”

“But the damage is done.” She shakes her head, releasing my hand and taking her napkin to wipe her nose. “At the most, it could add six months. It’s a waste of money–”

“Money shouldn’t be a consideration here, Mom,” Will says. “Any of us can help you now. You just have to look past your pride.”

“I don’t want it!” she says loudly.

“I don’t care!” he argues. “I’ll find a way to give it to you. That’s not going to be the reaso–”

“The treatment, Will.” Her voice is soft. Her shoulders slump. “I don’t care about the money. I’m tired of feeling sick, and those treatments make me feel like I’ve poisoned myself. I feel better without them, regardless of what they do. They’re not helping like we want them to.”

“But you could have more time with us.” I stare at her, not understanding.

“What do you think that last six months is going to be like, honey? Do you expect quality time with me?”

“But you’ll have six more better months before that,” I argue, unable to stop the tears.

“Maybe,” she says. “Maybe. But then I have to endure months of the procedure again, and the illness and recovery from that again. Do you see how this works?

“Max, I don’t want to be a burden.”

“You wouldn’t be,” I tell her. Jon and Will seem to know something else.

“I’ll be a burden you love; a burden you won’t mind bearing, but a burden nonetheless. This is my fate, but, boys,” she says, now looking at all of us, “I wanted you all to know that I am grateful of how my life has turned out. I owe it all to you.” Jon hands her another tissue. “I was a burden you all hated before.”

“That’s not true,” Jon says. I shake my head. Will looks down at the table; we all know their relationship was much more strained than ours.

She huffs and smiles, waiting for Will to look up. When he finally does, she continues. “I love you.”

“I love you, too, Mom.” His eyes water as he starts tugging on his hair.

“I love all of you.”

“We love you,” Jon and I both tell her, hugging her from both sides.

“But I could have a good three years left in me, right? If tonight is any indication, I would say that’s definitely happening.” She picks up her fork and takes a bite. “I feel better than I have in a very long time.”

“That’s really good,” my oldest brother says, sighing. My brothers and I look at one another before we start eating again. I’m not as hungry as I was earlier, but I pick at the good food, forcing myself to eat it because I don’t want it to go to waste.

“There’s one last thing,” Mom says when we finish. “Jon, can you make some coffee? Decaf?”

“Uh… now?”

“Yes, please. I have some homemade zucchini bread in the oven, too, if you want to heat that up.”

The dining room table is still in the kitchen, so Jon isn’t too far while Mom continues talking.

“I want you two to reach out to your father.” She takes a sip of her water while Will and I stare at her, mouths agape. “Sometime. It doesn’t have to be now, but I will rest easy knowing that things are settled between you three.”

“As far as I’m concerned, Mom, things are settled,” Will says, standing and picking up his and Jon’s plates.

“Sit down,” she tells him. “Jonny can clear the table. You cooked.”

I look up to see Jon leaning against the counter, his arms crossed, his eyes on us. He’s not in any hurry to do chores. Even though he doesn’t share the same father Will and I do, he knows the pain The Asshole has caused us, and he will stand united in any decision we make.

He disowned me, Mom. Remember?” I ask. “Because I’m queer.”

“No, because he’s ignorant,” she argues. “I want you to be the bigger person.” When neither of us says anything, she continues. “I have his number. He lives in a trailer home in Divide, Colorado.”

“We know,” Will and I say.

“How do you know?”

“Doesn’t matter.” He shifts in his chair, leaning back. “All I can say is it’s Max’s call. It will always be Max’s decision, and I don’t have any say in the matter.”

“Hard pass.” I shake my head. “I’m dead to him; he’s dead to me.”

“But he’s not dead, and I’m afraid you’ll regret that decision when he is,” she says.

“Will he? If died, would he care?”

“Don’t even say that… but it doesn’t matter what he has to live with for eternity. I care about you.”

“Mom…” Everyone can hear the minor annoyance in my voice.

“It will put my mind at ease,” she says. “Even if you don’t believe in it, I still do.”

It’s not that I don’t believe in it; it’s that I have plenty of time to figure out what I believe, that’s all. I’m just not committing to anything yet.

I give it about two seconds’ thought. “I can’t, Mom.”

She looks at Will. “No.” He shakes his head.

Glancing up at my oldest brother, she pleads with him. “Jon, please do something?”

“Mom, there’s nothing I can say.” He goes back to making her coffee, and Will and I clear the table, trying not to let the awkwardness ruin our night.

Make Waves ©2019 Lori L. Otto 

Are you ready to read? Get Love Like We Do (side a), Love Like We Do (side b), (It Happened) One Friday and In the Wake of Wanting… or check out ALL of my books!

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