This is part 16. For part 1, click here
Thorson was watching The Price of Milk. It was one of his favourite cheesy movies, but this time, the watching of it was rather bitter-sweet.
It had been three days ago that he had logged on to his twitter account to see a direct message from Bertha. It said, “Please call me. you can call collect. I’m Mrs. VonEngle”. Then it listed a phone number.
Thorson had been understandably nervous. Why did Bertha’s mom want to talk to him? He immediately assumed the worst…Mrs. VonEngle was upset about the time that Bertha was spending on twittering, emailing, and skyping with him, and she didn’t want them to communicate any more…that would explain why Bertha had missed their skype date, and why he had heard nothing of her since… He briefly considered ignoring the message, but then realized that that probably would make things worse. So, with lead in the pit of his stomach, he picked up the phone and dialed…
At the end of the phone call, he was glad that he had not ignored the message…yet at the same time, the lead in his gut had, if anything, intensified. Then he went to tell his parents about the phone call. He had wanted to keep his friendship with Bertha a secret from his mom, but he knew that would be impossible now…so he took a deep breath and walked into the living room. His mom was reading a Michael Chrichton novel, and his dad was hunched over the morning paper, circling every third letter to see if there were any secret messages hidden therein.
They both looked up from what they were doing as Thorson first told his mom about his friend, Bertha. Then he told them both, as he tried to keep his emotions in check…and knowing that he would fail in the attempt…that Bertha had been in an accident.
He told his parents how Bertha’s mom had explained to him that the car that Bertha had been riding in had been broad-sided by a drunk driver. The driver of the car that Bertha had been in escaped with only minor injuries, but their car had been hit on the passenger side. Bertha had received some substantial injuries…in fact, she had been unconscious in the hospital for the last few days, and doctors figured it might be a few months before Bertha would be able to walk on her own. As her mom had sat by Bertha’s bedside, Bertha had occasionally spoken in her unconscious state, but the one word she uttered had made no sense to Mrs. VonEngle. “Thord” was all that she ever said. Bertha woken up that morning, and the first thing that she did once she was able to make herself understood was to get her mom to send Thorson the direct message that had led to the phone call.
The one up-side of the call was that Mrs. VonEngle thought that Bertha might be cheered up quite a bit if she were able to meet Thorson in person, so she offered to pay for air-fare for Thorson to fly from Regina to Seattle, and if his parents were worried about it, she would pay for one of his parents to accompany him if they wished…she couldn’t afford to pay for both parents though.
Fortunately, they already had passports, and Thorson’s parents decided that they could afford the one ticket that would be needed for all three of them to fly to Seattle.
So yes, it was bitter-sweet to be sitting here and watching the movie…sweet, because he was holding hands with the most beautiful girl in the world!…bitter, because he would rather have to communicate with Bertha via Skype and twitter than have her injured in a hospital room.
In two more days, Thorson knew that he would have to fly home again, but for now, Thorson and Bertha sat in silence as they held hands and watched The Price of Milk.
~~to be continued~~ (part 17 is here)