He looks unsure, his eyes darting to the nursery door. She’ll be fine with Sam, I assure him. It’s not like I do anything anyway…
I glanced furtively around the little street with its hand-painted mailboxes and lush flowerbeds. Not a soul in sight. Most of the windows in the houses were already dark. I jogged on the spot for a few seconds then I grabbed the door to the box and yanked it open. Inside were three pieces of mail and on top of them—a small, brown box. I took all of it, tucking it into the giant pockets of my hoodie while I glanced around. The trainers were pinching my toes, and all I wanted to do was curl up on my couch with Bad Mommy’s mail and a cup of tea. Maybe I’d even have shortbread with my tea, the ones in the plaid tin with the little Scottie dog.The first thing I did when I walked inside my house was get naked. Pants were for losers. Also, they were biting into my waist, making my skin pool over the top—a very bad feeling. I carried Bad Mommy’s mail to the dinette, setting it down without looking at it. Patience, I told myself. All great things took patience. I made tea, being careful to pour the milk in at exactly the right time. Grabbing the tin of shortbread, I carried my cup over to the dinette—an old wooden thing I’d restored and painted myself—and slid into one of the yellow chairs. I placed each envelope face down, putting the package last. Deep breath, okay … I turned the first one over. Her name was Jolene Avery.
Jolene Avery, I said out loud. And then as to not be swooned by her pretty name, I said, Bad Mommy.I used my nail to slide open the envelope and pulled out the single sheet of white paper inside. A doctor’s bill, how boring. I scanned the words. She had blood work done two weeks ago. I looked through the medical jargon for more details but that’s all it said. Lab. For what? A pregnancy? A standard procedure? I was no stranger to medical issues. In the last year, I’d been hospitalized twice when my blood pressure spiked, and there were all the tests they’d had to do when they found spots on my brain. I’d blamed George and those bad things he did to me. I was perfectly healthy until I found out what a bastard he was.I set the bill aside and turned the next one over. This was addressed to her husband, Darius Avery. It was an insurance quote, junk mail. Darius and Jolene Avery. I bit into my cookie. The third letter was a birthday invitation. Red and yellow balloons floated all over the card. You’re Invited! it said in bubble letters.
Giana’s third birthday party!Where: Queen Anne Park
RSVP Tiana’s cell
I wondered what type of woman wrote sharp on her daughter’s birthday invitations. Someone with OCD is who. The type of woman who peeked out of her window at night to make sure the neighbors weren’t setting out their trash can too close to her lawn. Petty, pathetic people. Weren’t parents of small children known for always being late anyway? It was sort of demoralizing to remind them of their failures on a birthday invitation.Her eyes dart to the stairs where Caleb disappeared only moments before. She licks her lips, and I lean in to better hear what nugget of wisdom she is going to impart. My mother is a very resourceful woman. It comes from being married to a controlling manipulator. She had to learn how to get her way, without getting her way.
When Court was eighteen, she wanted to go to Europe with her friends. My father had refused. Well, in actuality, he’d never verbally refused. He slashed his hand through the air as soon as the words were out of her mouth. The SLASH. It was a common occurrence in our Greek home. Didn’t like dinner? SLASH. Had a bad day at work and don’t want anyone to talk to you? SLASH. Leah crashes her fifty thousand dollar car for the fifth time? SLASH. At the end of all the slashing, Court had gone to Europe.Remember when you were a poor boy? How much you wanted to travel? My mother.
She’s still a child. My father.It’s good that she goes while we can still control her. We pay for the trip, the hotels, and the safest travel … much better than her going when she’s in her twenties, sleeping her way through France. My mother.