The rumble of distant thunder matched Maggie Sherwood’s dark mood. Clouds the color of bruises blew in fast, blotting out the late afternoon sun. Desperate to unwind from her miserable work day before starting dinner, she had poured herself a glass of Merlot to enjoy on the covered deck. The sweet, pungent zing of ozone from the brewing storm perfumed the air. One of her favorite smells. Maggie breathed in deeply and settled into a lounge chair, kicking off her shoes. As the wind ruffled her cropped auburn hair, she sat her glass down and rubbed at the kinks in her toes.
As she heard the patio door slide open behind her, she stifled a groan. Gritting her teeth at the interruption, she looked up to see her son shuffling toward her. Downcast eyes fixed on his grass-stained Nikes. If she had learned anything in eighteen years of mothering, it was that when they wouldn’t look you in the eye, you were in for trouble. The dull ache in her jaw made her wish she could wear her bite guard during the day.
Fortifying herself with a quick gulp of Merlot, she looked up into her son’s wary blue eyes. Eyes that mirrored her own, both in color and emotion. “Hi, sweetheart. How’s it going?”
Clearing his throat, he stuck his hand into the pocket of his jeans and pulled out a small, wrinkled slip of yellow paper. Handing it to her, he mumbled, “Not so great. Sorry.”