"You're Fine By Rebecca L Monroe

Patty settled on the bench, watching her seven-year-old daughter, Melissa, race to join the others at the swing set. There were four in all. Tommy, Cathy, Melissa and Joe.

It was a warm, sunny Oregon afternoon. The Beaverton park was quiet because most people were starting dinner or on their way home from work. Patty liked to have a later dinner so they could enjoy the park without the crowd.

“I didn’t think you were coming,” Sandy, Tommy and Cathy’s mother, said dropping beside her.

Sandy was fat, there was no better word, with fuzzy blonde hair and light blue eyes. Poor plump little Cathy was the mirror of her mother without the damaged hair. Tommy had to have taken after his father because he didn’t resemble Sandy at all. He was thin, and had a swarthy complexion.

“I know. Traffic.” Patty leaned back against the bench, closing her eyes. She was a middle person, she thought. Middle weight, brown hair, generic clothes. She even had a middle job as mid-management. She was the mother of Melissa the Comet. Melissa had more energy in her small body than most of humankind.

“Are you ever going to teach her she’s a girl?” Sandy asked the same thing every week.

Patty felt herself smile. “I keep telling you, I’ll happily trade for a while if you think you can do better.”

“Joe is here by himself, as always,”

Opening her eyes slightly Patty saw Joe, ten, standing by Melissa, explaining something with wild gestures. He lacked the thick, black-rimmed glasses the rest of him said he should have. His brown hair clung to his skull; he had an overbite and no chin. His jeans were so short his ankles were visible and he wore a pinstriped, button-up shirt. He looked like he should have a laptop under an arm.

“Somebody ought to call somebody,” added Sandy.

Patty closed her eyes once more. Sandy was too ill to work. Or do much of anything as far as Patty could discern. Restless leg syndrome, insomnia, fibromyalgia, stress disorder, the list went on, the focus changing based on things Patty didn’t know and didn’t want to. Their kids played together. It was the only reason she associated with Sandy. Sandy’s constant criticism, opinions and discussions of her illnesses was tiresome and boring. And, Sandy always knew exactly what someone else should do.

“There they go,” Sandy’s voice was suddenly tense.

Patty bolted upright, wide-awake. She leaned over and pulled on the sandals she’d kicked off. “Enough is enough,”

“You asked Melissa?”

“Of course I did. And got nothing.”

“You’re her mother. You sound like she calls the shots.”