by Steven J. McDermott

Late, late, is when I call her, deep in the night, long after the bars have closed, morning, really.

A-dopt-ed? I say when she answers. That's your excuse, is it, Mom?

I put her on speaker and sprawl on the hardwood floor, pretend I'm making a snow angel as I listen to her pleading forgiveness. Removed from my ear, her echoing voice is a time-machine transporting me back to all those phone calls I overheard, her late night calls to friends. Mom needed time off from being mom, needed to get out there on that di-vor-cee party scene without having to worry about going home to take care of "the kid" who was "crimping her style." Not that she was telling any of her boyfriends that she had a kid. Sometimes, her voice heavy and slurred, I'd hear about "the sacrifices" she made and the life she'd have once "that little shit" was gone.

I do wonder about her life after I took off, what her style was like then. But I never ask that.

She's crying now and I take her off speaker, let her sobs stab into my ear until I can't deal with it anymore.

Sorry I called, I say, and pressing the phone's off button, I mean every word.

Steven J. McDermott's work has appeared in more than twenty online and print journals. He's the author of the story collection Winter of Different Directions and the editor and publisher of the online journal Storyglossia.