Prince Charming

Prince Charming

by Kynan Patram

NICOLE COULD HEAR the phone ringing through the locked door. She rifled through her purse to find her key, before jamming it into the lock and busting into her apartment. After maneuvering her suitcase into the corner and scrambling to the phone in the kitchen, she lifted the receiver and placed it to an ear.

“Hello?” she panted.

“Where – have – you – been?” cried a shrill voice. “I’ve been calling several times – every day for a week now!”

Nicole let out a frustrated sigh. “Mom, I told you. I went on a trip, remember?”

“A trip? Oh, you had me worried to death, dear,” said her mother, breathing heavily. “I thought maybe you’d been kidnapped or murdered or something. I even called the police, and they filed a missing person’s report.”

“You did what?” shrieked Nicole, throwing her purse down on the table with a little too much force. “Mother!”

“Well, I didn’t know what happened to you. What was I supposed to do?”

“Great. Just great,” Nicole sighed, slumping her shoulders and turning to gaze out the window. “Now I guess I’ll have to go down to the station and get that straightened out.”

“At least you’re safe, dear.”

“But Mom, I told you about a dozen times before I left that I was going to Hawaii with Peter. Don’t you remember?”

“With Peter?” her mother croaked. “Oh, I don’t like him, dear.”

“What’s not to like?” Nicole said, walking into the living room. “He’s handsome, rich and charming.”

“That’s just it, dear. You can’t trust a man like that. There’s no telling what he’ll do behind your back.”

“Are we really going to have this conversation, Mom?” Nicole groaned.

“Well, don’t you ever worry that maybe he’s seeing other women on the side?”

“No, I don’t!” snapped Nicole, kicking off her boots and throwing herself onto the sofa. “He’s a loyal man.”

“But he’s not the type of man you can settle down with, is he?” her mother protested. “A businessman like that is always busy. When will he make time for you? You better not marry him, unless you want to spend your evenings sitting at home by yourself.”

“Mom, he doesn’t work long hours. That’s what his CEO is for.”

“Well, I don’t like it,” her mother stammered. “Why don’t you find yourself a regular guy, with a regular job?”

“Oh, quit it, Mom!” Nicole hissed, shifting the phone from one ear to the other and propping herself up on an armrest. “I don’t want to have this conversation with you.”

“You don’t think your mother knows what she’s talking about, is that it? Well, I’ve been around much longer than you have. And I’m telling you he’s no good for you!”

Nicole rolled her eyes. “Mom, I have to go. I just got in the door and I’m exhausted.”

“When are you coming to visit me?”

“Soon – maybe tomorrow,” Nicole said, rising to her feet and heading for the kitchen again.

“Oh, another thing,” her mother went on, “he’s too old for you, dear. Do you really want to end up being widowed at a young age?”

“Mom, he’s only ten years older than me,” Nicole said as she threw herself into a chair at the kitchen table. “Dad was five years older than you. That’s not much of a difference.”

Nicole’s mother coughed. “Still, you should think ahead, dear. You don’t want to make the wrong decision.”

“Mom, stop it, will you!”

“What?” her mother protested defensively. “I only want what’s best for you.”

Nicole pursed her lips. “Is that right?” Nicole said in a strong voice, straightening up in her chair. “You want to know what I think, Mom? I think you’re just jealous. You married a man who was a disappointment to you, and it pains you now to see me getting what you missed out on in life.”

The line suddenly went silent.

“Mom?” Nicole said after a few seconds.

A few sniffles followed. “I did the best I could with what I had,” her mother finally sobbed. “I didn’t have it easy like you did, Nicole. My parents were poor, but your father and I did everything to see to it that you had the greatest opportunities possible.”

“That doesn’t change the fact that Dad was a disappointment to you, wasn’t he?”

“I loved your father,” her mother spluttered.

“But he didn’t meet up to your expectations, really, did he?”

Silence fell on the line again.

“You settled for the first man that showed interest in you,” Nicole continued, “and you didn’t bother to figure things out first, did you Mom?”

“Your father was a good man,” her mother sobbed.

“You still haven’t answered my question!”

“Fine!” her mother snapped, rage swelling in her voice. “You’re right! You’re absolutely right!” she wailed. “I wasn’t satisfied with your father. He didn’t thrill me. He didn’t make me swoon.” She choked out several heavy sobs. “Okay? There! Are you happy?”

Then a dial tone buzzed on the line.

Nicole shrugged and hung up the receiver. But just as she rose from her seat, the phone rang again. She reached down and snatched it up immediately.

“Mom, I’m sorry,” she cried, her eyes welling up.

“Is this Nicole Nobles?” came a woman’s cutting voice.

Nicole cleared her throat, dabbing at the sparse tears running down her cheeks. “Yes. Who is this?”

“This is Peter’s wife, you lousy little b-tch!”

 

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