Welcome to Brighton Bits, short short stories about the people, places and things in and around the fictional village of Brighton, New Hampshire.
This short short story is about a character from Christmas in Brighton, Love in Brighton Village, Book 2
The Book of Lists
Nine-year-old Meredith stood by her mother’s bed. Even though it was midday outside, the room was dark as night and smelled sour.
“Mama? You have to get up.” Merry gave her mother’s shoulder a gentle nudge. Nothing happened. She tried a stronger shove. Still nothing. Was she dead, too?
Merry went to the bathroom, got her mother’s compact mirror from her makeup bag and placed it under her nose. The mirror fogged up. Relief swam through Merry’s veins.
Merry perched on the side of the bed. “That lady said we had to leave.”
Worse, she’d also said that if Mama didn’t clean up, the lady would call social service. And with as many books as Merry read, she knew foster care was a place to avoid.
“Mama, please.” Merry hadn’t realized she was crying until tears splotched the sheet over her mother. “How can you do this to me?”
She hopped off the bed and stomped out the room. “Fine,” she said. “I’ll do it myself.”
In her mother’s office, her bravado melted away. She twirled around the middle of the room in a slow circle, looking for a place to start. Tears slid down her cheeks. “I have no idea what to do.”
Tears mixed with a growl. She was about to give up, to go find that lady and ask for help, risk the dreaded foster care.
That’s when she spotted the fat pink binder she’d seen her mother use to help other families move. Merry hefted it off the shelf and laid it on the desk. She flipped the cover open and there, laid out in black and white, a beautiful table of content that led her to every step she needed to take to get her and her mother back home.
After holding herself together for three days while Mama fell apart, Merry could finally breathe.
And that is why Meredith loves lists, agendas and schedules.