@Random - In the same boat - short story | Vuurvogel Creative Writing

In the same boat

“I can’t take it anymore,” Jean sighs over the phone.

Her friend on the other end sighs with her. “I know, my family is crazy too. We’re in the same boat, babe,” Micky calls back loudly. She is on the train to Amsterdam and an opposing train passes by. A fellow passenger has just opened the window and Micky can barely be heard over the noise.

Jean is on her bike and has the same problem as cars whiz by. It’s raining heavily and every time a passing car slides through a puddle, the noise prevents her from catching Micky’s words. She has just returned from a party at her parents’ house, and her festive glitter dress looks a tad pathetic with water stains growing bigger and the balloon model blown out.

“Did you get the chance to talk to your dad?” asks Micky curiously.

“No, he was too drunk to have a normal conversation,” says Jean as she paces sternly. “I made notes of everything I wanted to talk to him about, but I threw them away. It’s no use.”

“He’s been drinking a lot lately, hasn’t he?”

“He always drinks a lot, there’s nothing new under the sun. A bottle of wine in the morning, beer for the rest of the day, and he’ll quit on the tenth. He sticks to his curious regime, I have to give him credit for being consistent,” says Jean with a hint of bitterness.

“And your mom?”

“Oh my God, my mother. She was on her best behavior all evening, sucking up to the guests and pretending that everything’s peaches and cream. When everybody left I helped her in the kitchen, but her mood changed. She threw a fork at me, can you believe?”

“That’s just bizarre. What did you do to upset her?”

“Nada, darling. I said something that should have made her happy. She told me that she was thinking of booking a week to Greece, all by herself to relax and blow off steam. I encouraged her to just do it, she has plenty of money, so why the doubt? That ticked her off for some reason, because I got cutlery thrown at my head.”

“Oh man, your folks are strange. Does your dad drink because he sees ghosts and hears voices, or is it the other way around?” Micky ponders.

“Chicken or egg. But I think he started drinking because he is actually a medium, but he never learned how to handle it properly. It drives my mom crazy, literally.”

“Was your brother there, too?”

“James had promised to come, but halfway through the evening I got a text saying he had a headache. A lame excuse, of course.”

“Your brother is as eccentric as your dad.” Mickey lowers her voice again instead of screaming; the opposing train is gone. “By the way, did I tell you that I got an e-mail from him the day before yesterday?”

“An e-mail from James?” says Jean in surprise. “Hang on Mick, I’m almost at the crossing. There’s a train coming, but I can make it if I pick up pace. I don’t want to get off and wait in the pouring rain. What did James have to say?”

“Well, he said that you told him that I was planning a bike tour to Amsterdam. He warned me because he had dreamed of me getting hit by a train. So I bought a Eurostar ticket.”

“Dang, that is obscure. But you know, James is just like my dad. His predictions are as accurate as the weather forecast,” Jean laughs.

Micky can hear Jean pedaling faster and just as she wants to warn Jean to be careful at the railroad crossing, her phone gets whipped out of her hand as she gets torpedoed out of her seat by the screaming braking of the train.