Lynette hadn’t heard from Christine in six months and three days. There’d been something of an argument, nothing abnormal. Her daughter was unpleasant on the phone, and Lynette questioned her about her life and whether she ever planned to take it seriously. She figured stubbornness had kept her daughter from calling her back; or else the phone buzzed in a purse on a hook in the morgue, and Lynette really was a horrible mother. It would be her fault somehow.
She almost called in a Missing Person. But Olivia, her other daughter, showed her how to check someone’s voice messages if she could break the password. For her passwords, Christine always used the street address from their derelict little split-level on the south side of Ann Arbor, the one where Lynette had spent many good hours teaching Christine in preparation for kindergarten.
Olivia brought Lynette a vodka and cranberry and one for herself. They sat on Olivia’s pink floral sofa, listening to Christine’s messages on speaker phone while Olivia’s boy Henry ran plastic farm animals violently into each other. Wet explosions punctuated Christine’s messages, which included the latest hysteria from Lynette, “Hello? Hello? Are you alive, this is your MOTHER,” an inquiry about a puppy Christine had apparently found and postered for in her neighborhood, and a litany from a man comparing Christine’s body parts to various food and drink: her mouth was orange soda. Her calf was a smooth, curved eggplant.
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