This day is officially going to suck.
Not only did my parents' divorce become official last month, but now I get to have a talk with my mom about how she has won sole custody of me. The only thing I know is that now I can't see my dad unless she gives him permission, and since I know that mom and dad don't exactly see eye to eye, I'm guessing that I won't be seeing him any time soon.
I stir my hot chocolate with the wooden stirrers that Starbucks supplies, while mom drones on and on about how we are now independent and free to make our own lives. From scratch. I roll my eyes at this. I never saw anything wrong with the marriage before. Yeah mom and dad fought, but all parents fight. It would be weird if they didn't, right?
"...So that's why I think we should move there," mom finishes and gives me a hopeful stare. Her sky-blue eyes are practically begging me to agree with whatever she has been saying for the last ten minutes.
I yawn. "What?"
Mom sighs and moves her empty grande cup to the side. She's always had the strange habit of downing her teas when she is nervous. Secretly, I feel happy to make her squirm. She'd ruined my life back when she gave dad the divorce papers, the least she can do is beg for my approval. "What do you think?"
"About what?" I sip my hot chocolate nonchalantly. As the hot, sweet liquid runs down my throat I can hear my best friend, Sophie, asking me why I can't be a normal city girl and just drink a frap in the summer.
"Kristina," mom says in a low voice, more to herself than to me. She's been doing that a lot since her divorce. My name is like a mantra to her, god knows why. "Did you not hear a word of what I've been saying to you?"
I shrug. "I have a lot on my mind."
Mom grabs my hands over the table, making me drop the dirtied stirrer on the floor. I have half a mind to pull my hands away, but her grip touches something inside of me that is yelling at me to pay attention. The outside noises of down-town Toronto are nearly inaudible to me as she says her next words carefully: "We're moving."
My hands are immediately out of her grasp, her words burning every inch of my body. I look at this woman who has become a stranger to me over the last month. My eyes take in her blond hair, straight and layered, her flawless skin, and her full red lips. Has this always been the face that my mother wore? After her divorce, her whole appearance changed. It is like looking in the mirror one day and knowing that there's some semblance of who you once were, but also knowing that you're not the exact same person as before.
This woman is not my mother. My mom never wore lipstick or the new Lacoste perfume. She never worried about how she dressed and she never made me sit with her through awkward conversations. My mom was always there at home, waiting for me to return from whatever adventure I'd had in Chinatown or down-town or the mall with Sophie and the other girls. My mom loved my dad, always bestowed him with kisses and hugs that made me look away in embarrassment. My mom, the woman who ruined our lives and left my dad, would never say "let's pack our crap up and leave this place".
Of course, my mom didn't say we should move in so many words, but I know that that is exactly what she means by suddenly suggesting that we move.
"No," I say, my voice trembling. "No."
"I've already called my friend Maria Fuentes, do you remember her? She used to live by where I grew up in the suburbs."
"No." My brain is struggling. It's trying to get my mouth to say more than just one word of resistance, but the shock is so great that there's been an overload in the system.
"She says she has more than enough room and that it would be great to have some company in such a big place," Mom is still talking, ignoring my shaking hands and head. "You know she left Canada a few years before you were born because her husband works down in California, so it would be nice to see her on a frequent basis again."
"No, you... you can't do this to me," I finally stutter. But my voice is still too low to make any impact on my mom.
"You remember Gabrielle? I think he's your age now. You'd go to school with him and we'd be able to have a nice change of scenery. I've had enough of the city and I just want a fresh start," Mom smiles as she speaks, clearly blind to my growing rage. "So what do you think? California should be a nice change."
"No!" I finally yell, earning some weird looks from the baristas as a few conversations around us pause, before awkwardly starting again. "You can't do this to me."
"No, mom," I shake my head defiantly, tears welling up in my eyes. "You can't just decide to do this to us after everything that's happened. First the divorce, then the custody, now this?"
Mom's eyes widen, their lightness sparkles faintly with unshed tears. "Kris, this isn't easy for me either."
"I'm sure it isn't, what with the divorce settlement and your new lease on life, right?" I throw my words at her like daggers, looking for the bullseye, praying that she finally sees how horrible she's being. "Dad is gone now, thanks to you. We have no family and now you want to take us god knows where?! Just because you want to ruin your life mom, doesn't mean that you can ruin mine!"
"ENOUGH," mom's voice thunders over the other customers in the restaurant and the whole place is silent for a heartbeat. That's a feat in a popular Starbucks in Toronto. "I am your mother and you will do as I say. I'm sorry this has been hard on you, Kris, but you don't know the whole story, so please, just do as I say."
"But you can't--"
"Yes," she nods emphatically, "I can, and I will. End of discussion."
"We're finished. I've already bought the tickets and ordered the movers to come and help us start packing tomorrow."
"I can't believe you," I sit back in the chair, defeated. The silence in the store is palpable. "You already bought the tickets without even consulting with me."
Mom sighs and picks up her purse from the chair beside her. "My asking you was only a formality, just so you weren't surprised by the sudden choice."
"A lot that did for you."
Mom gets up and looks around at the curious faces. "Sorry everyone, just a familial dispute. Kristina, let's go."
I noisily push my chair back and grab my purse from the same chair that mom had used. Just when I thought life was already going to the dogs, my mom's new life plan just had to go and make things so much better.