“Your father and I always put you first when you were growing up. We put you first then, and now that you’ve come home again, we’re putting your first again. You think this is easy for us? You think you’re not affecting our lives with the decision you make? I shouldn’t have to deal with this, not at my age. I’ve paid my dues, put in my time…”
The young man had heard this speech, or some variant, all through his life. His mother’s rant faded into a distant drone, and he sat with glazed eyes while she went through the ritual.
And then suddenly he’d had enough. Decades of pent up emotion finally burst through the shell he had created for it, and bubbled to the surface.
“Are you done?” he quietly intoned.
The monologue halted abruptly. His mother was not used to being interrupted while she was pontificating.
“What did you say?” she asked.
“I asked if you were done.” he answered.
A bead of drool slipped from her stilled lips. He smiled, knowing she didn’t understand how to deal with this situation.
“The point is,” he stated flatly, “you’ve told us our whole lives how you and dad did everything for us, how we never went without. How you scrimped and saved for us. And that’s really admirable. Or it would be, if you didn’t keep telling us what a god-damned hard obligation it was. Trust me, we appreciate the effort you and dad put in for us. We know how hard it was for you because you’ve constantly told us how hard it was. How hard it still is. We appreciate the sacrifice. We really do.”
He could see the color rising in her cheeks, but plunged on anyway. In for a penny, in for a pound.
“Maybe you could have done stuff for us just because you loved us. Why did it always have to be an obligation?”
He didn’t wait for her response. The leather sofa he was sitting on creaked as he stood. As he walked from the room he threw one final question over his shoulder.
“ Couldn’t it just be for love?”