“I need you to tell me everything you did.” Mom sat there, her arms spread out, palms up. She was calmer than I’ve seen her in my life. “Everything,” she says. “Spit it all out. Right now.”
I held my breath, feeling light-headed, cornered, and trapped. There was no way out. I knew it was too late. I had been ducking and dodging this conversation for as long as I could. I never imagined everything would go belly-up so quickly. I barely had time to react. It was like my worst nightmare had finally stepped from the shadows and shown itself, but it was actually worse than I had imagined.
Way, way worse.
My mother’s long fingernails drummed on the table. Her lips, pursed tightly together, were the color of blood. I think in any other situation Mom would have already exploded by now. ‘How could you, J.J,’ she would say. ‘How could you do this awful thing to me? How do you think it makes me feel, huh? Your dad and I raised you way better than this and you know it!’ But this otherworldly lady sitting in front of me was silent.
My stomach felt like it was churning whatever food still hadn’t been digested from lunch. There seemed to be some sort of internal malfunction though, because every time I took a breath, my stomach would knot up more and more. A few inches higher, my heart was going crazy, ramming against my ribs like an unrelenting, raging bull.
Mom propped her elbows on the table. Her eyes searched mine until they seemed to connect with my soul. “Take you time,” she said. She leaned back very slowly and tucked her arms under her head. “We’ve got all day, J.J.”
Somehow that didn’t make me feel any better. How do you plan to get out of this now, stupid? I thought to myself. In the tightest of situations my conscience seemed to want to torment me more. It’s not like you can run away from her like you do everybody else. You live with the woman.
And then there was my anti-conscious. Just make something up, stupid, it told me. At least it gave me a suggestion. It didn’t show up at the last minute and mock me. But my anti-conscience was probably why I was in this situation in the first place. Sometimes you learn never to trust even yourself. You never know when you’re going to slip up big time. Like now.
I was in the living room at the dining room table. An ugly round clock was strung up on the wall. It was one of those old clocks with a brass pendulum swinging from side to side. You could spend hours listening to the tick, tick, tick but I wasn’t about to do it now. It was only a few hours past noon. My dad would be home any minute now. I repeated the words in my mind over and over again. My dad would be home any minute now.
I looked from the clock to mom and she cocked an eyebrow at me, smirking. I was completely trapped. You’re screwed, my conscience said. I swear it was laughing. I waited for my anti-conscience to say something but it didn’t. So much for the help. Mom probably planned it this way. She gave new meaning to the phrase ‘wait until your father gets home.’
“That’s not even fair,” I muttered under my breath.
“Life’s not fair,” Mom answered. “Now. Are you ready to come clean?”
Did I really have a choice?