|Behind me her breathing intensifies and a twitch splits my pursed lips. What does she want now? Will she call me back to peel away my protective layer with a simple gaze? A look that brings on such guilt I have no choice but to reveal the tiniest sliver of my story. It may be as innocent as saying “I’m just going out to a movie”, but she’s not so ignorant, she knows. Somehow, and I don’t know how, but she can see through every lie I’ve ever told. Lies, that aren’t my fault. If there weren’t so many questions, if I could just leave my house pressure free I swear to God I would be more truthful than the Pope on Sunday. Only the Pope can leave whenever he wants, and the Pope doesn’t get attacked on what makes him him.
She clears her throat; I think she’s getting ready. Soon her mouth will open and words will tumble out that she’d have been smart not to say. I clear my throat in return, but remain standing in the doorway looking out at the sidewalk before me, and freedom. I cough and it sounds disgusting. My cigarette scarred throat feels like it’s full of ricocheting pebbles, solid pointed pebbles.
The voice, tinged with reprimand, rings out violently tearing down my wall of composure. Calmness and order come crashing down in my subconscious and I don’t give a shit. My mind is opening up to a regurgitation of past, tainted memories, fights that last for days, hypocrisy. What I want to do now is scream, yell at her for the frustrations she has brought, the needless guilt she’s made me feel. But I can’t. Not just because she’s my mom it’s because she’s part of a team. To pinpoint her would be letting the other off the hook, and I can’t do that.
“What?” is my bitter response, sounding empty after so much thought. And it’s in her answer that I realize the tinge in her voice was that of timidity, not anger; “Be safe.”