Drop #28: Dedication

I’d helped organize a church family picnic at Timmons Lake outside town. When my original ride fell through Ned and Beatrice offered to give me a lift back. I hardly knew them and though they’d come off kind off stiff at the picnic, I thought it really nice of them. They had a lovely family too, with two daughters: Jessica, 14, and Rebecca, 11. We were also two sisters, about the same age difference growing up, so the dynamic felt familiar.

For the drive’s first five minutes Beatrice and I chatted politely about the weather and the picnic’s success, then settled into a comfortable silence. The radio was on and they were obviously interested in the program, which played dedications that had been called or sent in. The DJ read out the messages attached to them.

‘This one is from Hank to Cecile. Love you always, darling,’ as Sweet Home Alabama started up. Beth dedicated Light my Fire to her husband, Carlo, and Muriel, Bohemian Rhapsody to her daughter, Amanda. ‘You are so special. Thanks for all your support over the years.’ It was quite touching, actually.

Then came the following dedication: Hallelujah, by Jeff Buckley (I’ve always like the Leonard Cohen original better), ‘to Mom and dad, from Jessica and Rebecca. You guys are the best. Love you lots.’

‘Oh how nice,’ said Beatrice, looking back at the girls, who smiled in turn, but didn’t say anything.

‘And our favorite song too!’ said their father. ‘Thanks, you two!’

They must have used a cell phone from the lake, I thought.

The song played out, everyone listening quietly as if to a sermon, and when it was over, Ned changed the station to something classical and dreary and no one spoke again.

We stopped for gas on the outskirts of town. Ned pumped while Beatrice went to use the ladies. I stayed put in the back with the girls, who looked tired.

‘That was real nice of you,’ I said. I’d been looking to break the silence.

‘What’s that?’ Jessica asked.

‘Dedicating a song to your parents on the radio.’

‘Oh.’

‘It was so sweet. If I had daughters, I’d want them to be just like you.’

‘We do it every week,’ Rebecca said flatly. ‘Without fail,’

‘Wow. That’s amazing.’ I smiled at one, then the other.

‘Don’t kid yourself, OK,’ said Jessica. ‘There’s a reason.’

‘Stop it, Jess’ said Rebecca, looking harshly at her sister.

‘Why? It’s so stupid and you know it,’ Jessica answered, just as severely.

‘What are you girls talking about?’ I asked.

‘They make us do it, alright,’ said Jessica. ‘They make us call in to that stupid show every week and dedicate a song to them, then absorb it as if it wasn’t fake. I don’t even think they realize its coercion.’

‘What?’

‘They even tell us what to say, like perfect puppet masters. It’s such a crock.’ Jessica shook her head.

‘Wow,’ I said, shaking mine too.

‘Why did you tell her?’

‘I can’t wait to get out of that house,’ said Jessica, ignoring her little sister. ‘It’s such a fucking farce.’

‘You shouldn’t have told her, Jessica!’

‘Oh, stop nagging, Becca,’ she said, but turned to me anyway. ‘Listen: don’t tell them we told you OK? They’ll deny it and get all crazy. Ned will blame it on Beatrice when we get home and she’ll take a handful of pills with her three glasses of Chardonnay and be out of it for like, the next two days.’

‘Jesus,’ I said.

‘Just don’t say anything, OK?’

‘Of course not.’

Ned finished pumping and got behind the wheel. ‘Now where’s that mother of yours?’ he asked, turning towards his daughters with a troubling smile.

Beatrice came a minute later, smiling too as she got in. ‘You have enough space back there?’ She hiked the seat forward an inch, even though we’d been fine for the whole drive till then. ‘Wasn’t it nice of the children to do that?’

‘The song?’ I asked.

‘Yes.’

‘Yes. It was very nice of them.’

‘I’m so proud of my girls,’ she said as Ned started the engine. ‘If there’s one thing we’ve gotten right in life, it’s raising these two.’

 By E.M. Vireo

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About EM Vireo
flooding the world with fiction

3 Responses to Drop #28: Dedication

  1. MC L says:

    Love this one

  2. Ooh, that’s disturbing! I love it!

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