Waiting has never been Clara’s virtue, especially when she was in banks. According to Clara, bankers seemed to enjoy making people wait and to enjoy taking their jobs as slowly and irritably as possible. As she impatiently sighed and checked the amount of people waiting like her, she couldn’t help but notice how a banker was not receiving any costumers, and to Clara, he was the reason she has been waiting for more than 15 minutes.
She sighed adjusting her flower scarf and looked at her mother who was still looking for a pen in her big brown bag.
“I think I’ve got a pen,” Clara said happy for an opportunity to do something. She opened her bag, much smaller than her mother’s, and after a couple of seconds found the blue pen, she remembered putting in her bag early this morning. She handed it to her mother and continued to stare at the led rectangle monitor now, giving number 2051.
19 people to go Clara sighed looking around; she was almost certain there weren’t 19 people in the room. Suddenly the thought that some people, tired of waiting, had left cheered her up a little as she also noticed that most of the people had come after her.
“How about eating out today?” She asked her mother, who was writing in her personal note-book.
“I said,” the rectangle led screen blinked and beeped and now number 2053 was in bright red. No one stood, seconds passed, the led screen blinked and beeped again and it was now showing number 2054 at teller 4. A man holding a white enveloped hurried as he thanked a young woman for lending him a pen.
“I said,” Clara repeated, “why don’t we eat out today?”
“Where? There are not many good restaurants around here.” Clara’s mother mouth twisted. Clara, thought of the nearby restaurants. There was the Mexican restaurant that was good and with reasonable prices and the Syrian restaurant that had really good chicken shawerma sandwiches. There was also Clara’s favourite, Japanese restaurant with the best sushi Clara has ever tasted. But she knew her mother was not too fond of sushi and it would cost too much anyway. Her spirits suddenly down again, Clara sighed knowing they would probably eat at home.
“Maybe we could have breakfast tomorrow and eat at home today.” Clara said, half resigned half actually happy to be going home; her waiting in the bank seemed to have taken half her life. Clara’s mother nodded.
“Yes. It’s better. But I’ll wake you up early. Not like today.” Clara rolled her eyes; no matter how her mother put it, 10.30 was early for Clara and she couldn’t imagine what timing her mother was thinking of waking her up tomorrow.
“We’ll see then.” Then she added hastily before her mother could tell again how 10.30 was not considered early at all, “only a few left!” Clara’s mother turned to looked at the number on the led screen and as she did this, Clara glimpsed wrinkles on her mother’s neck half hidden by her yellow scarf. Suddenly she felt her heart sinking as she remember how only two days it was her mother’s birthday and how 48 didn’t seem like an old age for Clara. In fact, she was quiet certain her mother was pretty young compared to her friends mothers.
But the few wrinkles she glimpsed seemed to prove her wrong and the thought of her mother getting old distracted her from the blinking and beeping of the led screen. Soon her mother will be old and soon Clara will be left alone. Her mother was the only person who knew her well enough to endure all her moods. What will she do when she would be too old to listen to her?
She pushed these thoughts away as they were now trying to reach for her throat tightening its grip. It’s just the scarf…maybe it’s too tight around the neck. But her mind was too smart to accept such an excuse, feeling foolish she shook her head and lowered it, hiding her mouth in her scarf. As her thoughts seemed to be getting louder, and painful, she raised her head and looked at the led screen without reading the numbers.
“At what time tomorrow?” Clara asked without looking at her mother. She felt her voice shaking, and tried to hide it by clearing her throat.
“I don’t know…” her mother said fixing her hair behind her ear, “9.30 maybe?” Clara suppressed a sigh as 9.30 seemed like dawn to her. Suddenly she was glad her mind was now remembering how awfully tired she had been this morning when waking up at 10.30 and what a protest her whole mind and body would make tomorrow morning when waking one hour earlier. But Clara silently nodded.
“Ok…” she added “it’s on me, for your birthday.” Her mother turned to looked at her suspiciously.
“I didn’t really get you anything,” Clara added quickly. The led screen beeped and blinked and the young woman who had lent a pen to the men before stood and walked to the teller.
“I don’t need anything.” Clara’s mother said, “really, don’t spend your money.”
“It’s ok mum, I’ve got money, Don’t worry.” But her mother didn’t seem convinced and she was about to suggest how Clara should spend her money instead when the led screen blinked and beeped.
“It’s our turn!” Clara’s mother said standing quickly and walking to teller number three. Clara, slightly taken by surprise, followed. She forced a smile to the banker and started talking about what had happened when they tried to withdraw money from the ATM and nothing came out. She hesitated and lost trail of what she was saying and had to restart as she tried to push her mother’s thought out of her mind. Now another thought seemed to torment her, as the banker typed on his computer Clara’s account number; how time has passed quickly when she had talked to her mother. And how very little time they had before she would be gone. Maybe not, an optimistic side of her told her as the banker asked for her ID. For a second she seemed to have forgotten where it was, then found it where it had always been, in her wallet just after her credit card. She forced a smile again to the banker and gave him her ID as her mother checked from behind.
When they were done, and out of the bank Clara insisted on having lunch out today despite her mother’s protests. They decided to eat at the Mexican restaurant, her mother’s favourite and Clara’s thought seemed to have become more cheerful as they laughed at their cat’s, Pumpkin, habit of running around crazily whenever she saw a light reflecting from somewhere. As they drove back home, Clara promised her mother to wake up early tomorrow for breakfast and before her mother would start saying again how Clara shouldn’t spend so much money on her, Clara said they were her money, and she was free to spend them as she wanted to.
And how it didn’t seem to cost her anything when spending time together with her.
But she didn’t tell this to her mother, instead she smiled and set her phone alarm at 9.00 a.m.