“Hello?” she said.
“Melinda, it’s Susan,” the voice on the other end replied. Melinda grimaced and lightly banged her head against the wall. “What was that noise?” Susan asked.
“Nothing,” Melinda told her.
“Whatever. Look, I don’t have much time. I’m absolutely swamped. I’m due in court tomorrow for this huge case I’ve been working on and the firm has taken on three new important clients, so I am just tearing my hair out. If my damn assistant wasn’t so incompetent, maybe I could actually get something accomplished, but the stupid girl forget to take my dry cleaning in and now I don’t have a single decent suit to wear, so I’m out shopping for a new one,” Susan said, her voice brisk.
“If you’re so busy, why are you calling to tell me this?” Melinda asked her.
“I didn’t call you for my own amusement, Melinda,” Susan snapped. The way she said Melinda’s name grated like fingernails on a chalkboard. How Melinda hated that tone. It was one that Susan had perfected over the years. Even when their mother had been truly furious with her, she had never been able to say Melinda’s name in as grating a tone as Susan’s.
“Right. You just called me to remind me of how important you are,” Melinda retorted. She smacked her forehead as the words left her mouth. Her sister had the uncanny ability of effortlessly bringing out the worst in Melinda.
“I don’t have time for you and your childish games.” Susan was now using her frostiest voice, and Melinda could feel the hairs on the back of her neck standing on end. “I called to remind you that Mother’s birthday is on Sunday. We’re supposed to take her out for dinner. You were supposed to call me last night so that we could decide on a time. I waited all night, you know.”
Melinda banged her head on the wall again. “Right, sorry, I forgot. So sue me. Oh wait, I shouldn’t tempt you,” she said.
She could hear her sister take in a deep breath on the other side of the line. Melinda could just picture her at Nordstrom’s, her cell phone pressed into her ear with such force that it would probably leave an indent. She knew that her sister’s nostrils were probably flared in anger, and her mouth pressed into a thin line of disapproval. This was the normal expression on Susan’s face whenever she spoke with her sister.
“I’m going to ignore that,” Susan said. Melinda could hear the sound of metal hangers scraping and banging against one another as her sister thumbed furiously through the racks. “Where are we going and what time? Let’s get this over with so I can buy a suit and get home to review my case.”
Defeated, Melinda slumped her back against the wall and allowed herself to slide down onto the floor. “Look, Suze, I really don’t care. Whatever Mom wants. But can we please make it reasonable this time? Not all of us make six-figure salaries, you know.”
“Fine. We’ll take her to Luciano’s. That should be within your budget. We’ll meet at Mom and Dad’s at six. And don’t call me Suze!” With that, the line went dead.
Melinda had the sudden urge to take the phone and bang it against the floor, but it was really Susan’s head and not the phone that Melinda wanted to beat against the floor. Honest to God, her sister was just about the biggest bitch to ever walk the planet. She appeared to have no warm, sisterly feelings of any kind. In fact, she didn’t seem to have any warm feelings at all. Susan was the consummate ice queen. She was pure, unadulterated evil.