"Babe, get the phone."
Jenna rolled over with a groan. The bedside alarm clock read 7:23.
"Hello? Yes, this is Jenna. Carol? Oh yes! Carol! I am so glad you called, there was a mix-up... Sorry? Oh, sure it worked out fine. The staff was really um..." Jenna rubbed some sleep out of her eye, "...welcoming.... What? You want to transfer me? Palliative? I don't know, I don't have much experience with... You're sure I am qualified for that as a new grad? Well, all right then. Thank you so much. Thanks for calling, Carol."
Jenna hung up the phone with a sigh.
"Was that your boss?"
"They offered me an actual position. On a palliative ward. I start on Sunday night."
"What's a palliative ward?"
"It's like a hospice. It's where people go when they're dying."
Shaun rolled over so that his back was to her. "Bummer."
"Honey, don't you have to leave for work soon?"
Jenna frowned, propping herself up on her elbow. "No, it's Friday."
"Oh. Well, I'll just go in a bit late. They never care."
"Shaun, go to work. You're going to get yourself fired."
Shaun laughed and began to sit up. "Who cares if I get fired? You'll soon be making more money than me anyway."
Jenna was awake now. "Is that what's been bothering you lately? You want to be the main breadwinner? What? You find it emasculating that I am about to be financially independent?"
Shaun put his hands in the air. "I was just making a joke. No need to use four-syllable words before I've had my morning coffee."
Jenna smiled, running her hand through her messy morning hair. She thumped her chest and in a deep mock-caveman voice, she joked, "Big strong man need coffee. Go to work. Make much money."
Shaun responded by grabbing her waist and tickling her until she squealed. "Big strong man love small strong woman," he replied. He kissed her soundly on the mouth. "And money," he added and proceeded to get dressed.
"Honey, are you sure about this? It sounds so... sad."
"It'll be fine, Mom. I can take care of myself. It's not forever, and being in a position means I have benefits."
"You would have benefits from Shaun's job if you two were properly married."
"Jenna, I'm your mother. I just want what's best for you. I know you are set on living with a man before marriage, but you would tell me if he wasn't treating you well, wouldn't you?"
"And you are being careful, right? If you bring a child into this world out of wedlock, Jenna-"
"Mom, please. I don't need to hear this right now."
"God's plan is for people to be married before they have children."
"Right, because that worked out so well for you and dad."
There was silence on the other end of the line. Jenna mentally kicked herself for bringing him up. Her mother was overbearing, but she hadn't deserved that.
"I'm sorry, mom. I-"
"No, it's okay. You just caught me off guard. I have to go, but I'll call you later, okay? Congratulations on your new position, and... say 'hi' to Shaun for me."
Jenna hung up the phone and closed her eyes with a sigh. Her mother had been through a lot. Why couldn't she just be the obedient and loving daughter her mother needed?