Original Short Story: "Cassendra Paints"
Cassy Called Her Mother
Cassendra stood by the windmill. Observing shadows. She called her mother yesterday. Wanting to bridge the gap. Cassendra waited by the windmill. Looking at birds and stuff. Home is so far when you do not want to go there.
Cassendra wanted so many things. She called her mother. Told her mother she would be home by midnight. Cassendra's mother brought the pie out of the oven. She allowed that Cassy, her baby, would like pie with her milk. No, Cassy likes cookies with her milk.
Cassendra's mother then baked four dozen cookies. Bought two gallons of milk. Cassendra arrived at midnight. Just as she had said so. Her mother, Cuba, said, "good to see you, girl. Been hoping you'd come back."
A Green-Haired Mother
Cassendra stood staring at Cuba. Cassendra could not believe that her mother has dyed her hair green. "Mother, why have you dyed your hair green?" asked Cassendra. Cuba looked agape, and goes, "I did no such thing!"
But Cassendra retorted: "Then why is your hair green? Why? Why?" Cassendra stood open arms like she should be hugging this little strange green-haired mother. But could not! She could not give a loving gesture to this little creature with green hair.
"Oh, that! Goddamn it. It's not green. It's a little greenish blue, but not green. And it happens that the meds I'm taking causes it." Meds cause the phenomenon of blue-haired ladies. Okay.
"Oh, I see, are you ok, Mom?" asks Cassy.
"I'm fine. Forget me. I want to know about you. Haven't seen you in years! What have you been doing?" asks Cuba.
"Here's what I have been doing," says Cassendra. "I paint pictures. I stand by things and stare at them until I think I can reproduce them on a canvass. Then I go home and start painting them."
"Say what?" goes Cuba.
"Shut the fuck up and just listen. You asked me and now I'm going to tell you!" Cassendra shoots back (aka "goes").
"I take in all the details I can, I struggle with each line and curve. I agonize over every shade of light. I argue with myself about each hue of color that might be called blue, azure, cerulean, teal, and amethyst. I kick myself in the ass, in the brain, in the gut trying to get it right."
"Are you ok, Cassy? Why don't you sit down? I've made cookies and I have milk. Let me go get them for you. Come! Come! Sit on the sofa, and we'll have some cookies and milk, and you can finish your story," goes Cuba, running to kitchen to retrieve the cookies.
The Blur of Cassendra
Cuba felt that old feeling she always felt when she had to listen to Cassendra for more than a second. Cuba takes a few deep breaths and wonders: "Oh, for Christ's sake. What is she talking about? Why did I have to ask that question?"
Then finally Cuba recoups, grabs the cookies and milk, rushes back to Cassendra, who has now seated herself on the couch with her suitcase and big bag of something beside her.
"OK. Here we are. Cookies and milk," goes Cuba, placing the treats on the coffee table before her daughter, who had a skeptical look on her face, like she's wondering if those things are really edible.
"Here," goes Cuba, "try one. I baked a pie this morning but then remembered that you always like my cookies better than my pies. So I baked these, and went and got some milk to go with them. Hope you like them."
Cassendra munched on a cookie, sipped on the milk. Mother and daughter munched on cookies and milk, making small talk: "I do like these, Mom." "Oh, I'm so glad." "Is the milk cold enough?" "Yes, it's good." "Wonderful, so glad."
Oh, To Be Van Gogh!
After a long pregnant pause, Cassendra took up where she has left off. "I want so many things, Mom. But what I want most is to be a famous artist, a painter, a Van Gogh, a Rembrandt, a Monet, whatever. I want to create art that people will want to look at for years, decades, centuries."
"Oh, well, I would ask why, but then I'm afraid you would try to tell me and it would take all day," popped off Cuba.
"The goddnam why isn't important, Mother. It's just what I want," responds Cassy.
"So you kick yourself in the ass, brain, and gut, so you can paint pictures that people will want to look at way after you have left this planet?" goes Cuba.
"Well, I guess that's your translation of my goals," goes Cassy.
"All I ever wanted in life was to get through it without too much pain and heartache," goes Cuba.
"So how's that working out for ya, Ma?" Cassy snottily queries.
"Most of the time, pretty well. I am pretty healthy, I actually worked and saved enough money to live on in my old age, and I don't owe anyone anything," goes Cuba.
You Called Me!
"Then why did you call me and beg me to visit you this weekend?" goes Cassendra.
"What are you talking about? You called me!" goes Cuba.
"Well, sure, but you have called me lots of times before. You are usually the one who calls and begs and whines for me visit," goes Cass.
"Don't you want to visit me? If you think my invitations are just begs and whines, why do you bother?" goes Cuba.
We Cannot Communicate
"We can't communicate. We should not bother trying to communicate. I'll be going now. I need to get back to my work. You will never understand me. I am not the daughter you wish you had. This is too hard. Too impossible," goes Cassy, standing up, grabbing her stuff and bolting toward to door.
"Well, if that's how you feel, you should do it," goes Cuba. "If you ever finish that painting, why don't you send me a copy. I'd love to put a painting by you over my mantle. Right over there. It would look good."
"I don't even know how to respond to that sarcasm, Mother," goes Cassendra.
"I'm not being sarcastic, I mean every word. I'd love to display your paintings in my home," goes Cuba.
"I can't believe this!" goes Cassendra.
"I know, Cassy! You've never believed in anything. Why should you start now?" goes Cuba, as Cassendra stalks out the door, never to return.
Questions & Answers
© 2018 Linda Sue Grimes