Susan awoke from that crazy dream and rushed to the bathroom sink, where she splashed water all over her face.“Mama,” he’d called out to her. She wondered what it all meant, as she quickly glanced at her watch and reminded herself not to be late for Starbucks with Eileen.
That crazy dream–she thought, as she pulled on her Levi’s and plain T– irritated the heck out of her. It was always the same: “Mama,” the little boy would call to her. He had tussled blonde curls—just like Evan’s— pudgy cheeks, big solemn eyes. It was the eyes that always got to her. Dark brown, like her Grandpa Abe, he should rest in peace.
“Evan’s said, ‘no more.” Susan sits at the small round bistro table, and inhales the smell of fresh coffee, as she holds her steaming Grande latte.
Eileen rests her elbows close to Susan’s. “You already have two.”
“But what about the dream?”
“Don’t go Madonna-Kabbalah on me, Sue. It’s just a dream. Unfulfilled expectations. A dumb dream.”
“But he reaches for me. He calls me Mama. He loves me.”
Eileen throws her head back and laughs. “You’re a physician for God’s sake. You of all people should know it means nothing.” Eileen sips her Vinte black, no sugar, as Susan stares out the window.
Susan sighs. “I could give this baby so much. Love, direction, education—he could be the next Chagall, or Chabon—or Einstein.”
Eileen gulps down her coffee. “How will you raise an Einstein if you can’t afford him, Sue.”
“It would be tight, but I think we could squeeze him in…”
“Not if you’re trying to save for the kids’ college funds.”
Susan sips her coffee, watches the steam dissipate into the air. “Evan wants a vasectomy.”
Eileen wipes her hands from her pastry. “Sounds final.”
Susan shrugs. “It is final. It’s just the dream…”
“Get a load out of that,” Eileen points not-too-discreetly at an overweight Hassidic woman, wearing a small pillbox hat over a dull-looking wig. Dressed in a non-descript black sweater and long skirt, she looks tired, worn-out. She stands in front of the bathroom door, with six children dressed in identical outfits behind her. She motions to her kids to wait their turns in line for the bathroom.
Eileen rolls her eyes. “Her husband definitely needs a vasectomy.”
Susan stares at the woman. “If they’re happy, what’s it your problem?”
“No problem,” Eileen says, as she glances at her watch. “Just it’s not like they’re producing Einsteins.” Eileen kisses Susan on the cheek. “Call me?”
“You bet,” Susan says, and stands up to go. She grabs her Fendi bag and turns to throw her cup in the trash when she hears a voice.
Susan rubs her eyes. She scans the room—and sees him.
“Mama?” the boy calls again and this time Susan knows it is him. Only his curls aren’t blonde, tussled like Evan’s. His head is shaven, long side locks grace his cheeks, and he sports a big black yarmulke on top of his head. The tired Hasidic woman lifts him up, then sets him down matter-of-factly in the line beside his siblings.
“Mama?” he calls again, but the woman ignores him, and focuses instead, on another child in the bathroom.
Susan stands by her table, unsure if the table or her legs are holding her up. She watches the harried mother with her children—but that one—the blond one—she’s seen before. Same pudgy cheeks, big solemn eyes. It was the eyes that always got to her. Dark brown, like her Grandpa Abe’s, he should rest in peace.