fore he could walk up to the phone and answer it, Eleanor seemingly teleported to it.

”Hello? ” Eleanor speaks on the telephone, asking the caller from the other side about their identity. It takes seconds to register before Herbert realizes the call was meant for him. The unprecedented horror in his eyes cannot be hidden from the confused Eleanor as she looks at him quizzically.

”Who is this woman? ”

The callers shrill voice can be heard from the telephone, almost like a siren stabbing the soft eardrum of a newborn baby. The phone was instinctively dropped as Herbert scrambled his lazy ass to run toward the dropped telephone.

”I was going to ask you where your funds are going, but you are playing around with a girl! ”

The mature voice of the woman floats around the room, making Eleanor scratch her nape uncontrollably. She sighs and walks away to her room before shutting the door.

He sighs audibly. He needs to keep his ventures a secret lest his mother grows disappointed in him.

”The money deducted from the account is for… office supplies! ”

His chest tightens as he knows this feeling all too well: lacking.

”Guess what. Your youngest brother got a medal at school today. Unlike you, you never brought home any medals from your college. ”

As much as Herbert wants to refute his mother, he can hear the genuine happiness in her voice, making him give up on that idea. Her joy is essential to him, which is why he worked so hard in the first place. He has no right to talk too hard to his mother.

”Yes, mommy, I get it. At least I graduated now, and Im working now. Ill be sure to work hard to repay your retirement. ”

He waits a moment for her reply.

”Its good that you still remember how to address your mom. Also, are you free on the weekends? ”

Herbert gets his bag and shuffles around his files, flipping them one by one until he comes across his calendar. He looks at the calendar. Tracing his fingers across the small boxes with the date numbers, it lands on the weekends. He sees that he has two appointments on that day.

”Uhh, sure, mommy, Im free at the weekends… ” he says tentatively.

”Ok! See me in France; oh, and by the way, bring the little girl with you! ” the telephone is abruptly hung up.

Herbert sighs. He puts the telephone back on its socket. He walks back to the couch, slumping into the rigid foam and reaching for the TV remote before opening it up. The news channel is reduced to mindless white noise as he contemplates his life up to this point.

Herbert looks to the hall as a door swings open. Eleanor walks out in her elephant-themed pajamas and a bag of crisps in her hand. She plops down beside him on the couch and opens up the bag. Almost like clockwork, Herbert grabs a bowl from under the coffee table in front of the sofa.

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