Me: The supermarket! I’ve got to run back before they close. Please, can you call her for me?
Mother: You must be out of your mind to be thinking I’d call her.
Mother: She’s fine, she’s out, she’s having dinner, leave her alone. She’s going to think you’re suffocating her. Don’t do it. Look at you, you’ve gone mad!
Me: (calmly) I am not nuts. We have been writing every day since early November. Every day… you understand? She doesn’t just drop out. She’d tell me if she so much as had to go to the bathroom. No emails from her all day today. It’s past 8 p.m. now in Berlin. OK, if she was out, she’d have her mobile, but I also texted her, no reply, nothing, so something’s wrong now. Please… just call, will you? This is her land line.
Mother: I’ve never seen you like this, your eyes are bloodshot. Call her when you come back.
Me: I’ll do that anyway, just help me get it off my mind for now.
Mother: Look at you. How can you be like this, you don’t even know her. Meet her first. Then go crazy.
Mother: No. Besides, what would I tell her? What if I get a man at the other end?
Me: You’re a woman on the phone. Just find out if she’s OK, that’s all.
Mother: And if it’s her, what am I supposed to say?
Me: Like that’s a problem for you. Tell her how much you loved her recipe last night. You raved about it to Ilse. So, rave again.
Mother: (beat) Take back that wok, it’s too big. Get me a large frying pan instead. My old one’s finished.
Me: Done. Tell me when I get back.