Sunday was a weird one even without the alcoholic fumes and Cuban tobacco slowly evaporating from my clothes. Mother kept quiet all day, we had both lunch and dinner under a tensed and total silence, with her glancing up at me from under her hair whenever she thought I wasn't paying attention. She's never been good at hiding her disappointment and I've learned not to ask what's wrong. I'm implicitly supposed to figure that out anyway. I knew she wanted me to say happy Mother's Day but I wasn't going to give her that undeserved pleasure, so the cold war continued.
Right before midnight, as I had watched her attentively reading Bonjour Tristesse on her pink baroque sofa for well over an hour, she finally got tired of waiting.
Haven't you forgotten something dear, she said in staccato with her eyes still nailed to the book.
Is it that time of year again, I asked rhetorically, striking a theatrical pose. The almost invisible smile on her face died instantly when I said happy birthday mom.
I guess it was cruel, but I just couldn't help myself.