Marilinn came home from work at her usual time. Perion had waited up for her as she usually did during her summer breaks from school. “You look tired, Momma,” she said.
“I am, Lord only knows I am. But I don’t need to tell you, huh?” Perion laughed in agreement as Marilinn sat down on the sofa. “I see you’ve done all the things I asked you to do for tonight. You’re such a good girl.”
Perion watched as Marilinn leaned back and closed her eyes. Come on, don’t be a baby, she mentally chastised herself. If I don’t say anything now, she’ll go to sleep and I can forget it all. “Momma,” she said softly.
For a moment, Perion didn’t think she’d heard, but Marilinn opened her eyes before she could call out again. “Did you say something, hon?”
Perion jerked as if she’d been electrocuted. “Huh?”
“Did you say something?”
“I just called for you, that’s all,” she said, and then fell into an awkward silence.
“Well, what did you call me for?”
Perion sighed. “Today, I met this guy named Blaine Marion. He wants to help our band get gigs. He thinks we’re really good, and he’s not much older than me.” Marilinn said nothing. She simply sat and listened. “He also wants to date me, too,” she plunged ahead, adding the dating part for good measure.
Marilinn’s face had turned a light shade of pink just before the pissed off flames of red appeared. “Perion, I told you I didn’t want you dating until you’re a little older. I don’t think you’re ready to perform in front of an audience either.”
“Mother,” Perion began indignantly, “he wants to meet you and everything. And I think our band is ready. In fact, I know we’re ready.”
Marilinn had never heard such passion in her daughter’s voice before. The only time she had ever been more passionate was when she’d decided to sing. Yet, Marilinn didn’t want Perion to date at her age. She had heard the name Marion before. It was a well-known name in town, in a lot of towns in the county, for that matter. The Marion’s were an old-time rich family. They could have bought and sold the Thorns ten times over and still have had plenty of money left to party. Perion with Blaine Marion would be too similar to her courtship and marriage to Anthony: a poor girl marries a rich guy and they make a pretty baby together. But they hadn’t lived happily ever after. The rich boy had died and left the poor girl even poorer, and not just materially speaking. Anthony’s death had left Marilinn more than devastated.
Anthony had also been her one and only lover, the only man in her life. She felt that if she had explored, she would not have been so destroyed. It had to be that Perion would be just like her in spirit and feeling. The child had Anthony’s looks, but her disposition. Perion would devote herself to one boy unfailingly, just as she had with Anthony.
Marilinn came out of her trance. “Perion, I think you’re too young to date, but I suppose I have to say yes. If I don’t, you’ll do it anyway, won’t you?”
“No, Momma, I wouldn’t, but I’d like to date him. He’s nice.”
“Only, you have to bring him here to talk to me, and you have to promise me something.”
Perion smiled. “Anything, Momma, anything.”
“You have to promise you’ll date other boys as well as Blaine. Do we have a deal?”
She nodded. “Yes, Momma, we do. Thank you so much, Mommy,” she nearly sang, all the indignation out of her voice. Perion hugged her mother hard and happily.
Marilinn hoped Perion would keep her word, although she feared she would not.