I’m not staying home alone, I’m not in my bed all day, dreaming about dreams and praying for pain, but I’m not. Instead, Jessica decided getting a cold sore qualifies as a sickness, so she drags me out of bed, and tortures me throughout the day. At first, she tried to use my make up, and then tried to steal my clothes, so all I got dressed in sweats and a blue v-neck tee. After our breakfast, we sit on the couch and watch Cartoon Network, a lot of reruns of Scooby Doo, Ed, Edd and Eddy, Tom and Jerry, and others. I paint her nails and feet, and my own, because I’m ambidextrous like that and she’s a prima donna.
Bringing her knees up to her chin, wrapping her small, little arms around her legs, she started to question. “So, what have you been up to for the past eight months?” She asks her big brown eyes bright and beautiful in the creepy, Chucky way. Even though I love Chucky… Explains a lot.
“Nothing,” I say, turning so I face the TV. “It was boring,” I tell her as I change the channel to MTV real quick.
“Aw, come on, Luce, you were in the city –“
“Detroit ain’t that great.”
“Living life, being on your own! That must have been fun,” I was a prostitute, kid, there’s nothing fun about that. God damn it, I look back into her eyes, scared more than ever now.
“Not really, I was keeping up with bills, I couldn’t really shop that much, it was groceries and bills, a lot of responsibility,” I tell her, hoping she won’t move out until she’s forty.
“Ugh, that’s not all, silly,” and she smiles wider, hoping for goods.
“It was… scary,” I tell her. “Things must have been more interesting here,” I add quickly.
“Not really, just sad,” she says, and I can see she’s looking to jump in with another question, so I invade before she can.
“What? How?” I ask, as if I don’t know.
“Well, mom missed you a lot,” she admits, looking down at her lap and then looking up at me, her eyes sad. “She would barely get out of bed, dad had to drag her out one day, she left nail marks on the walls, and sc-screamed a lot,” her voice starts to hiccup now. “Connor wasn’t home a lot, and when he was, there were a lot of fights, between him and dad.”
“I’m sorry,” I apologized, but I still couldn’t look her in the eyes.
“You’re here now,” and I could hear how her voice raised with energy and perkiness, so I looked over, her eyes a little less sad. “That’s all that matters, right?”
I’m not so sure, but is that what I tell to her? If I stayed, I could be on track with school, applying to colleges, having sleepovers with J.J. and Chloe still, probably single or dating someone who is really boring, who doesn’t know anything about weed or heroin or speed. If I stayed, Connor wouldn’t have grown up so fast, and Chloe wouldn’t be trying to, maybe Mom and Dad would be on better terms.
“It’s okay, though,” she adds, trying to talk over the silence. “I mean – I’m okay, I was mostly with gran most of the time.”
Shit, hadn’t thought of that hippie bitch.
We make ham and cheese sandwiches for lunch, and we eat up in my bedroom, listening to the Buffy soundtrack. Her favorite song is I’ll Never Tell, and that tells you a lot about a person. After finishing our strawberry milk, we go downstairs with our plates to get some more food, hungry as hell. When we step into the kitchen, we see mom, in her dark blue suit and her blond hair looking like it has silver streaks in the blue lighting of our kitchen. She turns around to see us, and naturally, she has a cup of coffee in her hands.
“Hello, sweeties,” she says, sweetly enough, like she’s some professional mom. She’s not. For a second, we both just stand there, not sure what to do and how to react to this – especially me, this seems surreal. Mom, playing hookie? It’s not right, not natural.
Not in this world.
“Hey, mom,” I sound out slowly, it feels too… normal, but at the same time, forced.
“Mom,” Jessie says with a smile on her lips and in her eyes, and rushes into a hug, and yeah, mom hugs back, because she’s nice that way, but not fun, never fun. She grew up with a hippie dippy mother, so she’s never hippie dippy herself.
“Hi, Jessie,” Mom smiles, as if to herself because it’s so wide, and kisses Jessie’s head. Jessie steps back a step, but keeps her hold on mom, though not as tightly.
“So, are you done with work for the day?” Jessie acts, eager for the attention, for the past.
“Yeah, I am, I thought we could get lunch, maybe Cracker Barrel, or something,” she offers, looking over at me, and then Jessie follows suit. I feel like I’m being weighed down with guilt, and stares, which, I am.
“Sure,” I tell them, though I’m not sure of it myself, but Jessie brightens up, her face lighting like a candle being lit for the first time.
“Yes, this will be so much fun,” she squeals, hugging mom with one arm real quick and then turning her head to me. “We can get candles!”