short story

Tea and Crackers Interrogation Method

E. R. Smith 2018

Tea and crackers my mother’s secret weapon to weaken our defenses.  We sipped Lipton,  and let loose a mouthful, fears, worried tears, confessions.  We sat in Big Chair in mom’s room.  Big Chair was mom’s ally; worn soft perfection.  Sit and spill.  As soon as she came in from school; mom called, ‘Lizzy you want tea?’  Mom knew something, but what?  She’d been careful to park her backpack in her bedroom chair, “as a habit so I don’t forget anything for school” , she told mom.  Oh…she wondered if her mom would check her backpack?  No, maybe not.  Hope Ms. Bee wasn’t over gossiping and confusing everyone’s business with her own.

Mom brought the tea and crackers straight into her room.  She didn’t ask if I wanted to follow her.  Everything is fine, follow, breathe, sit in Big.  “Did you hear that girl with the blond streaks is pregnant?  ‘Yep, Ms. Bee. ‘ “No, Ma I  didn’t know.”  ‘Wasn’t she your friend?’  “In elementary ma, that was years ago.”  Mom moves on.  How’d you do in school today?  I froze a bit.  “It was good.”  Did mom get a call from school?  The phone rings.  Joey picks it up, “Mom it’s for you.”  I sip tea, and press lips closed to swallow.  Snuggling in Big…  Practice keeping your own counsel, scolds my teen brain.  I can hear silly giggles; mom’s talking to Titi June.  Well, it won’t be long now. More probing after chats done.  I nibble a cracker and decide to fess up…

I tell you mom and her tea…nothing gets past them.

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