This is the rewrite. I read any comments people had given me and now this is the result.
As my mind actually began to notice what I was looking at, I had to smile in spite of myself. It wasn't a photo album at all, it was a scrapbook! I didn't notice before because there was nothing on the cover. Now, why didn't she show me this? I've always loved scrap booking and I could never get her to sit still enough to make one of her own. Inside were embellished pictures of Christa and I as she was growing up, ticket stubs from parks and movies we had seen, ad pages of dried and pressed flowers from my very own garden! I was actually quite impressed at the obvious amount of time and work it took to make such a beautiful piece of artwork.
I was sure then that she knew I was going to visit for her birthday, she had left this here for me to find. So why wasn't she here?
I glanced at the clock again as it crept slowly toward one am.
I pushed the scrapbook away and started to drum the table again, realized what I was doing, and started pacing the living room/dining room combination of her small apartment. Outside I heard the downstairs door open and close. I glanced out the front window and saw her neighbors in the parking lot pointing straight at me through the window.
Well, I was going to hear about my "noise" again when Christa finally decided to come home.
I glanced at the clock again and was convinced that it wasn't working properly, so I started to wash the dishes she had left to make the time go a little faster.
I started to fill the sink with hot water and reached for the dish detergent and grinned as I realized that she used the same brand as I did. I glanced around as the sink filled and noticed that a lot of me had rubbed off on her. Everything was put away neatly and properly dusted. The kitchen table and counter tops were all wiped down and the floor was swept and mopped. She even left the dishcloth on the dish rack to dry the same way I did.
A few moments later, I was finished with the dishes and sitting at the table drumming my fingers again as the clock showed it was almost one-thirty in the morning.
To my relief, I heard the front door being unlocked as my daughter finally came home. I stood silently and watched the beautiful young lady she had become as she flipped on all the lights and put her things down. She had apparently decided to dye her hair auburn this year and she had cut it shorter than I liked, but with her slim figure it looked nice. I did NOT, however, like her choice of clothes!
A young lady should never wear a tank-top for any reason and her small leather jacket really didn't do much at all to cover what her shirt was showing, let alone keep her warm. Her blue jeans looked like she had actually taken a razor blade to them! I really wanted to let her know what I thought about her wardrobe choices until I noticed the look on her face as she crossed the threshold of the kitchen.
She walked over to the sink, turned on the overhead light, and looked at the dishes like she was surprised to see them. She grabbed the towel and held it in her hands like she was trying to divine some cryptic meaning from its damp fibers
I was about to apologized for "butting in" again, but changed my mind. It was her birthday! She should have known I would be here!
It was then that I noticed she had recently been crying. Her eyes were red and her mascara had left tracks down her cheeks. I tried to reach out and hug her, but she turned away from me and sat at the table. A fresh tear clung to the corner of her eye as she caressed the last photo I had been looking at, the photo of us smiling over her eighteenth birthday cake. That was the last time I saw her happy, I mean really happy. What had happened to make us drift apart like this?
"I'm sorry mom." Christa said, "I didn't think you would come if I wasn't here. I wanted to celebrate my birthday this year, not dread it. Look, I can't deal with this right now, I had a bad night, OK? I need to be alone for a while. Please? Just for a while."
That was new. I wasn't ready to be dismissed like that. An argument would've been better than that! I was about to tell her exactly what I thought when I realized that her mind was about a thousand miles away. Something was bothering her and she was just venting it out on me.
As I sat in the chair next to her, I knew that whatever had happened involved alcohol because I could smell it on her breath. I was going to say something about not needing spirits to have a good time, when her face screwed up and she let the tears take over her again. Seeing her like this made me want to console her, put my arms around her and cry with her, but I knew that would only make things worse. She was too much like me. She didn't want sympathy, she only needed to get it out of her system, just like every other woman in our family.
After a time her sobbing was more like hiccups and she was drying her face with her hands, making her makeup even worse, and mumbling to herself. The only thing I could understand through her gasping was, "Why is my life so different?"
My heart sank into my stomach. I had no answer for her. All I could do was reach out and touch her hand. She started slightly, having apparently forgotten I was even there.
"God Damn it, mother!" she cried, "Haven't you done enough? Just GO AWAY!"
I couldn't believe my own daughter would say something like that to me. I just sat there completely at a loss for words as she stormed out of the kitchen and into her bedroom, slamming the door in the process. I could hear her in there, weeping into her pillow like she always did. Even when she was a child she would bury her face and cry away her frustrations.
While her crying slowly crept into sobbing and finally into drunken snoring, I thought about what she had said to me. What had I "done enough" of? I wasn't sure, but I was sure that I was probably the cause of some argument between her and her boyfriend. That was the only thing I could think of that would explain her behavior tonight. Maybe I should actually stick around the next time he came around?
Usually when he showed up I would just go away, or hide out in her room until he left. I don't like being around people I didn't know, especially the boys she dated, they always acted like I wasn't there even when I was. Talk about rude!
Well, I thought to myself, I guess I could at least try to be nice to this one. He doesn't seem to be going anywhere soon, she's been dating him for almost a year now.
I was so deep into my own thoughts that I hadn't realized it was morning already, so I got up and started putting the dishes away for her.
Christa woke up the next morning with a horrible taste in her mouth and her makeup all over her face and pillowcase. She vaguely remembered arguing with her boyfriend last night over her mother, and yelling at her!
"Oh God." She mumbled as she sat up, and fought off a bout of nausea for her trouble, and hoped her mother hadn't listened to a word she had said. She heard last night's dishes being put away and relaxed a little. She knew she would have some explaining to do later, not only to her mother, but to Jeff as well.
What the hell did they argue about again? Oh yea, Jeff had said something about her mother being "too shy". Why that had ticked her off she wasn't sure about, but boy did she let him know about it. That was the first time they had ever been kicked out of a club and Christa was determined to never let that happen again.
She stumbled out of bed and across the hallway to use the bathroom and take a shower. Her head was pounding and her stomach was doing back-flips the whole time, but she still felt better after she stepped out of the tub and dried off. She stood staring at her horribly bloodshot eyes in the mirror and wondered what on God's Green Earth would possess her to drink that many margaritas?
Just then, there was a pounding on the door, which didn't help the pounding in her head any. It had to be Jeff. He was the only one that could be so irritating when knocking on a door. He was also the only one who knew where she lived.
"Damn!" she said to no one in particular as she threw on a robe and went to open the door.
"What the Hell, Christa?" Jeff said as he walked past her into the living room.
"Oh God, what did I do?" Christa asked as she collapsed onto the couch and tried to bury her head into the cushion.
"Well," Jeff began, sitting on the chair next to her, "I'm not really sure what all you did last night, but I do know you started doing shots with my sister around ten, Big Mistake number one. Then the two of you started to sing Margaritaville, Big Mistake number two. I lost track of you for a while and when I finally found you, you and my sister were giggling like school girls outside in the parking lot. After that you started trying to castrate me and jumped in a cab, with my wallet in your purse."
"Oh God." Christa moaned, "I am SO sorry about th...wait. Didn't you say something about mother?"
"Ummm, what?" Jeff wanted to be in a different universe right about now.
"Yea, that's why I left. I remember now."
"Oh, that you remember?" Jeff said, now on the defensive, "Look, all I said was that you are always talking about her and she's..."
"Don't!" Christa interrupted, "We don't discuss mother's condition. It makes her angry."
"Fine!" Jeff said, "But we have been dating for almost a year and I have seen nothing! Nada! Don't you think that's a little odd?"
"I need a cup of coffee." Christa stated and fought off the nausea as she rose and went into the kitchen. She was surprised to see that her mother had made a pot of coffee while they were in the living room, that was a good sign.
"Look, Christa," Jeff started as he followed her to the kitchen, "I really don't want to argue anymore about this... Wait, when did you make coffee?"
Christa smiled at Jeff's expression as a freshly made cup of coffee slowly slid across the table in his direction. He quickly grabbed the cup, burning his fingers in the process, and began to frantically search for strings, magnets, anything that could explain what just happened.
"Did you...?" He looked around hoping to see a camera or at least some people laughing in the window, "How...?"
"Jeff," Christa said, "meet mother. Mother, this is Jeff."