Rm w/a Vu(6)

By: A. D. Ryan

Mom shakes her head with a sly smirk, her dark hair flowing freely around her face. “Dinner. Your father came home for dinner. He’s working the graveyard tonight.”

“And you decided that dessert should come first.” The minute the sentence leaves my mouth, a queasy feeling rolls through my stomach, and I bring the pillow back up to my face, pressing harder than before.

Before I can successfully suffocate myself, the pillow is torn from my grasp, and my mother stares deep into my eyes. “What’s going on?”

It’s hard not to spill my guts to her because she’s just so damn easy to talk to. So I sit up, cross my legs like a pretzel in front of me, and begin to tell her what happened with Ben. She pushes my long brown hair behind my shoulders as I speak, and I’m shocked when she doesn’t seem too surprised. I really thought she’d liked him when I had introduced them. Apparently, I was wrong.

“He’s an idiot. I always knew you could do better.” This is just one of the many things she tells me. Oddly, it comforts me.

“Honestly, I haven’t even cried. Is that weird? I mean, I thought when someone you loved did something like that, you cried…”

Mom laughs heartily, placing her hand on my knee. “Oh, honey. I’d be willing to bet you never really loved that boy. Trust me, when you fall in love, you’ll know it.” I’m confused, so all I do is stare as she gets this wistful look in her blue eyes. “He will be your entire world. Just being away from him will feel like the end of your world, and when you’re reunited, you’ll feel a sense of total completion.”

“Sounds a little Jerry Maguire to me,” I mumble.

With a one-shouldered shrug, she stands from the bed. “Maybe. But you’ll understand one of these days.”

I am quick to disagree as she pulls me to my feet and from my room for dinner. “Nope. I’m giving up on relationships. I’m going to focus on school and my career. I don’t need a man.”

“Oh, sweetie.” She wraps her arm around me securely as we descend the stairs. “You can’t control these things from happening. You’ll see.”

I find it hard to believe that I’ll ever be able to trust any man again, but I force a smile to my face to placate her. She’s always been a bit of a romantic soul, and I hate to take that away from her just because it decided to skip a generation.

So, instead of arguing, I smile and rest my head against her shoulder. We enter the kitchen to find my father at the table, his red face buried in the paper—as it should be. “Whatever you say, Mom.”

Chapter 3

Hearing my mother giggle across the hall as my father does…whatever the hell he does, is starting to drive me crazy. I’ve been here almost two weeks. Not only is the drive to school more than I want to deal with, hearing them night after night after night…well, it’s not something one should ever have to go through. Is this some sort of mid-life crisis? It’s not like they’re even that old…

Neither of them seemed put-out with me staying here; in fact, they both seemed to enjoy catching up with me. However, when Mom told Dad why I was staying, well, it took a lot for us to convince him that the jail time wouldn’t be worth it. His face turned an even deeper shade of red as his rage suppressed his earlier embarrassment from having been caught on the couch with my mother. He even tried telling us that, as a cop, he was certain he’d be able to hide his involvement. While I admit the offer was morbidly considerate, it was wrong, so Mom and I talked him off the ledge.

When he finally calmed down, he assured me that I was welcome to stay as long as I needed. He even told me that the house just hadn’t been the same since I’d gone. I had to bite my tongue so as not to point out the more obvious changes, not really feeling the need to embarrass him further—or remember the sounds and brief glimpse I caught myself.

“Cam, stop it!” my mother squeals, and then I hear the deep tenor of my father saying something in return. His voice is muffled, which can only mean one of a few things I really don’t want to wrap my head around for fear of needing industrial-strength brain bleach. Honestly, I’m glad I can’t make out what he’s saying, because I know I’ll run to my desk and drive sharp pencils into my ears. I might even attempt to lobotomize myself; I’m sure there’s a Google or Wiki article about “Do-It-Yourself Lobotomies” out there somewhere. Though I can’t imagine they’re entirely safe.