Deepest Scars(7)

By: Tricia Copeland


I force myself to sit in the sun to eat and then go inside to read the paper and drink coffee. My video chat app dings, and I see Mom is calling.

“Why don’t you have a shirt on?” Mom asks as I greet her.

“Because I live alone, and it’s before ten in the morning on Sunday.”

“Well, go get a shirt and call me back.”

Rolling my eyes, I end the call and retrieve a shirt. I shouldn’t say that I hate talking to Mom, but she mostly complains about other people. I clean as I talk so I’m not wasting time. This is sort of our Sunday thing. Half an hour in, I’ve done the bathroom and kitchen. She finally asks about me as I strip my sheets and throw them in the washer. I tell her about my weekend, the game, and my schedule for the upcoming week.

“Well, don’t work too hard, and make sure you put some social time in there. Did you make it to service Friday?”

“No, sorry. But don’t worry about me, Mom.”

“So driven. You’ll never meet a woman if you’re always working.”

I know this point of the conversation and avoid it like the plague. Now is where she starts in on me about getting married. “Hey, Mom, I have to vacuum and then get to the gym for a volleyball game.”

“Oh, okay, call me tomorrow.”

“Course, I love you.”

I tell her I’ll call, but I never do. I don’t have to. She calls me nearly every day.

Later, I meet up with Jeff and a couple of other volleyball folks and then work out with Stu. Stu and I usually end up working the same days, so our training schedule matches up. As I make my way to the parking lot, I get a text from Jeff.

BUNCH OF US GOING TO LOCAL PUB FOR DINNER. WANT TO COME?

SOUNDS LIKE A PLAN. TEXT ME ADDRESS.

When I receive the information, I open the map app in my phone. Since I’d planned on stopping by the grocery store, I’d at least worn something decent and don’t have to double back to my apartment. Wondering if Josie and Sam will be at the restaurant, I pull into the parking lot. Perhaps I should have asked who had planned the meetup. But it’s too late now. I jog across the lot and duck into the cool, dark space. When my eyes adjust, I catch sight of Jeff waving from the back. They are huddling around a pool table, and I make my way to them.

“You’re still walking. That’s a good thing.” Jeff slaps me on the back. “Glad you could make it.”

“Yeah, thanks for texting me. My workout was good, but I’m starving now.”

“Grab a beer.” He points to the bar.

I approach the bar and order a draft. When I return, Jeff ushers me over to the group gathered beyond the pool table. “You remember Cody and Beth Anne?”

“Yep.” I nod and shake each of their hands.

“And Celeste.” Jeff points to the tall brunette beside Isabelle.

“Of course.” She holds her bottle out, and I clink mine to it. “Good to see you.”

“You too.” She shoots me a wide smile.

I hug Isabelle. “Hi, Isabelle, how are you?”

“I’m good.” She pats my back. “Glad you could make it.”

“Me too.” I take a long draw of my beer and face the pool table.

“So, you guys played volleyball today?” Celeste asks.

“Yeah.” I bob my head as I finish a swallow. “How was your weekend? What did you do?”

“Work projects mostly. My job is crazy.”

I rebuke myself for not remembering what she does. “Remind me what you do again?”

“Marketing, and because I’m new, I’m the low guy on the totem pole.”

“Know how that is.” I take a swig of my beer.

Jeff and Cody finish their game, and Celeste and I team up against Isabelle and Beth Anne. Celeste isn’t bad, and her shots improve over the course of our game. We win easily, and the group moves to a table to order food.

“I actually play better pool buzzed than sober,” Celeste admits. “Without alcohol, I overthink the shots.”

“Alcohol can be beneficial sometimes.” I take a seat between her and Cody.

Cody and Beth Anne are from Wyoming. He told me his dad named him after the city. It’s a good way to remember his name. They hike with us, and Cody keeps talking about planning a Grand Canyon trip, which I want to be in on.