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Five times Elaine got off the phone and one time she wished it was in her hands

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Elaine hung up her phone, set it down on the kitchen counter, calmly walked into the living room, picked up a random throw pillow, held it to her mouth, and screamed. What the hell was going on with her son?

First, it was punching an Oilers fan. Yes, Edmonton’s fans can be vicious little shits, but punching one? Her son should have known better.

Then, it was driving drunk and crashing his car. Thank god or whomever that no one was hurt. Her son really should have known better.

Now, he’s stuck in Calgary for part of the summer, doing community service by helping coach a Hockey Canada camp for elite young players in western Canada, and she’s wondering who thought this was a good idea. Yes, her son is really good at hockey, but he’s done things that make him not a role model, even though he should have known better.

 

***

 

Two weeks later she puts her phone down after another interesting conversation with Bryce. The camp is going well, but there’s this one guy who’s apparently “got a lot of potential but is an obnoxious, mean, pain in the butt” (one boy, really, he’s only 17- Elaine looked the kid, Matheson, up after the 10th time her son complained last week). But today’s call was different. Instead of complaining he didn’t mention Matheson at all until the very end, when not only did he say they’d hung out over the weekend, but he slipped up and referred to him as Jared- a first name he’d never said before in all the complaints. It wasn’t until after her son had hung up that Elaine connected the dots between “pain in the butt” Matheson and Jared, the first name she only knew from looking him up.

She’d prefer that he was making friends rather than enemies, but going from complaining about the kid to hanging out with him left her wondering- what the hell was going on with her son.

 

***

 

Elaine set her phone down in her lap, leaned back on the couch, and sighed. Well, that explained a lot. Or, it didn’t explain, but it gave her new information that she could make some logical guesses with. So Bryce has a boyfriend. Jared Matheson, who weeks earlier drove him nuts. Looking back, if she had known her son was interested in guys she might have guessed after the second call full of complaints that it was a crush and not actual dislike. But she’ll never know because he never once indicated that he was maybe into boys in addition to (instead of?) girls.

Now she could only guess that his idiocracy in the spring were related to this- was he freaking out and making bad choices as part of an identity crisis when he realized he liked guys? Did someone find out and he freaked out? (She doubts that one, if he freaked out over someone finding out, she didn’t think he’d get a boyfriend a few months later, even if her son isn’t the brightest bulb in the box.) Was he trying too hard to keep people from figuring it out?

This also could explain how absurdly awkward the sex talk she’d had with her 19-year-old son had been, as well as the rumors that prompted it (Elaine Marcus’ son was not going to be known as an inconsiderate lay, thank you very much).  If he hadn’t been interested in those girls, no amount of skill or attention could make up for a lack of genuine enthusiasm.

The conversation they’d just had was the start to an answer, but it still left Elaine struggling- what the hell is going on with her son?

 

***

 

Elaine sets her phone in front of her on the table, crosses her arms, sets them down on the table, and lays her head in them, thinking. She’s happy for Bryce and Jared, she really is- Jared seems like a nice kid with a good head on his shoulders who, honestly, is far more mature than Bryce in many ways, but why on earth did her 21 year old son, who’s very much in the closet, ask his (barely) 18 year old boyfriend to move in with him? Love is fine and dandy, and she knows that Jared’s parents’ aren’t too happy about the relationship, but moving in together, when their teams and friends don’t even know that they know each other? When their agents don’t even know about the relationship?

What on earth is going through her son’s head?

 

***

 

Phone in still in her hand, she leans against the counter, a huge grin on her face and a few tears in her eyes. Her son is getting married! Yes, they’re young (and Jared is so, so, so young), and things will get tricky (Bryce’s 10 minutes of ranting about how Jared said yes then the next day tried to ask if Bryce has really thought it through shows that at least one of them is aware of that)… but her baby is getting married!!! To a wonderful young man who he loves, who loves him in return, and who Elaine is also fond of (though apparently, they’re waiting until after the playoffs to tell Jared’s family because Don is still not a fan of Bryce).

Elaine pockets her phone, pushes off the counter and twirls on an imaginary dance floor with the ghost of a partner, remembering her own wedding day. This was the first call in years when she actually had a clear idea of what Bryce was thinking- love, love, love and together for as long as our lives last.

 

*****

 

Elaine’s phone is in her clutch, on a table at the other end of the yard. She hears a laugh and looks over, to where her son, and son-in-law, are sitting around a fire with some friends. She wishes it was in her hands, and that they were allowed to take photos, so that she could capture the looks they were giving each other. Love, love, love and together for as long as our lives last.