Until It Fades(2)

By: K.A. Tucker

I’m not sure what made her more angry—that she caught me sneaking out to meet up with my English teacher, or that I tried to sell the “he’s helping me with my assignment over spring break” excuse to her, standing on a sidewalk at one in the morning.

“Besides, it’s too late. The police are investigating.” She takes a deep, calming breath. “I have an obligation, Cath. This is what good parents are supposed to do when they find out that a thirty-year-old man has taken advantage of their teenage daughter.”

I squash the urge to roll my eyes. That’ll only infuriate her. “Nothing happened. And, besides, age of consent is sixteen. Stop making it sound like he’s some dirty old man.” Scott is fun and handsome and could pass for early twenties. He wears ripped jeans and Vans, rides a motorcycle, and listens to The Hives and Kings of Leon. I’m far from the only girl in school to fall for him. I’ve been infatuated with him from the very first day I sat down in his class.

“He’s your teacher! And what kind of idiot do you take me for? I know exactly what’s going on, so stop lying to me.” She reaches for her door handle.

And I know I’m not going to get anywhere with her by continuing to deny this.

“But Mom . . .” I seize her forearm, feeling the muscles tense beneath my grip. I’m fighting to keep my bottom lip from quivering. “Please. I love him. And he loves me.” He’s told me so. Quiet whispers in between stolen kisses after school lets out and he’s helping me with my portfolio for college applications. Loud shouts in between our tangled breaths the two nights I’ve managed to sneak away and ride my bike to see him.

There’s the faintest flicker of pity in her eyes before they harden. “You’re barely seventeen, Cath. It’s a crush, that’s all. It won’t last. It’s not real.”

“No, this is different.”

“Whatever he’s told you, whatever promises he has made, they’re all lies. You’re a pretty, young girl and he will tell you whatever you want to hear if it means he gets sex.”

“You’re wrong.”

“Even if I am, it doesn’t matter because you cannot be with him, Catherine!”

“You are just . . . impossible!” I smack the dashboard with my hands, tears of frustration burning my cheeks. She’s not listening. She doesn’t care how I feel. She doesn’t care how happy he makes me.

Her eyes are now focused on the windshield, on the thin blanket of snowflakes settling against the glass. The car didn’t even have enough time to warm up in the five-minute drive over. “One day you’ll see that I’m right. Until then, you need to stop being so selfish.”

Selfish! “But we aren’t hurting anyone!”

“Really? What do you think this mess is going to do to our family? We all have to live here! And your brother and sister have to go to the same high school. The rumors and the gossip and . . .” She heaves a sigh. “I’m sure people are already wondering about our parenting abilities. We will be the topic of conversation at every dinner table from Belmont to Sterling after this.”

“Yeah, because you reported us!” For someone who’s so worried about her image, I’m surprised she’s not just as eager to keep this quiet as Scott and I are.

“God dammit, Catherine!” My mother explodes. “You are so desperate to be treated like an adult. Show me you deserve it and start acting like one. Take responsibility for your own actions.”

“Fine! I’ll end it with him!” Even as I shout the words, I know it’s an empty promise. I’m not ending anything with Scott.

“Oh, it’s ending, all right. And one day, when you’re a parent, hopefully a long time from now, you’ll understand why I’m doing this.”

One day, when you’re a parent . . . Next to “because I said so,” that’s her party line. But wasn’t she ever seventeen and in love? “You can’t do this. You’re going to ruin his life. What if they put him in jail?”

“That’s where he belongs, if he’s preying on his students.”

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