Holly watched her daughter Megan burst into the living room. She landed on the couch and produced a sound Holly knew well. Teenaged angst. It was followed by a long, weary sigh. The entire time Megan clicked away on her Blackberry.
“Problem?” asked Holly.
Megan slouched deeper into the couch. “My teacher hates me.”
“Isn’t that what they pay her for?”
“Mom, I’m serious.”
“I’m sorry, honey. Tell me why your teacher hates you.”
Megan sighed again. Her phone alerted her to a text. Immediately she read it and typed back a response.
“Well?” said Holly.
“What? It’s Becky. We’re commiserating in our grief.”
Holly rolled her eyes. “Pardon me.”
“Anyway, Ms. Scott, in history? She gave us an assignment in ancient forms of communication. I have to do a whole project on something called ‘post’. Becky got carrier pigeon. At least hers includes birds. Birds are cool,” said Megan. She shook her head in disgust.
“That doesn’t sound too hard,” said Holly.
“Ugh. I don’t even know what it is.”
“Come on. Are you serious?”
Megan bounced on the couch. “Mom, are you gonna help me, or not?”
“Fine. You know that the post still exists, right?”
“Where, like in South America or something?”
Holly stared at Megan. She wondered if her real daughter was somehow switched at birth and that somewhere, her brilliant progeny was curing cancer.
“Have you ever head the term ‘post office’?” Holly asked.
Megan’s eyes widened. “Oh. Is that what that is? I thought that was a blogging site or something.”
“Really? What about all the red mailboxes you see around town?”
“What red boxes?”
“What about the mailbox by our front door?”
“I thought that was, like, an old part of the house we don’t use any more. I mean, our house is so old,” said Megan.
“Really? Where’d you think the packages and mail we get come from?”
“I dunno, UPS or somethin’” Megan produced more sounds of teenaged angst. “This is so hard. How am I gonna do this? See? My teacher hates me.”
Holly adopted her wise mother tone. “Listen. Why don’t you write a letter to someone. We’ll mail it off and wait for a reply. I know, you can write grandma. I’m sure she’d love to get a letter from you.”
“That’ll take, like, days. Becky found a video on carrier pigeons. Can’t I do somethin’ like that?”
“An actual letter would be better,” said Holly.
Megan laid back and stared at the ceiling. “Okay. Lemme text grandma so she knows what we’re doin’.”
“Grandma knows how to text?”
“Sure. We text each other all the time,” said Megan. “You’re the only one I know who doesn’t know how to text. ‘Probably ‘cause you’re so busy sendin’ stuff by post.”
Holly pulled strands of hair in front of her face. She was sure a few more just turned grey.