When we need reasons
And life does not give any
We make our own, smash up walls
Because breathing is believing
“Darling, when did you get home? Come sit down.”
I stared blankly at my mother even after she spoke and held out her hands to me. Times like these were when she was happiest—because she got to flaunt her new toy in front of her old one, and my father had to take it with a smile.
Officially, my parents were not separated. My father found divorce unpleasant to the eye and damaging to his reputation, and mother wanted to keep the wealth and security of a married woman.
It had been easy for them to come to a compromise. After all, everything was always business with dad, and only pleasure with mother. How they managed to hook up in the first place baffled me. ‘Opposites attract’ is what they used to tell their socialite friends when they were still together. I didn’t believe it.
“Is father back?” I asked quietly, keeping my head down as I walked to her. She sounded sweet now but I had been around long enough to know that she could quickly get into one of her moods. Father was not home and I had left the house, she must be feeling like we were trying to test her authority. Nobody was left unpunished when that happened.
“No, not yet.” she answered simply, taking my bandaged hands into her slender ones. I winced when she dug her nails into my wrists. “Where were you?”
I didn’t answer, despite the pain and how her grip tightened ever so slightly with each second that I wasted. I had to think carefully, before I said something that got all the the beggars in the neighborhood evicted.
“Didn’t you want your father to be upset with me for losing you?” she asked again in that over-the-top motherly tone, all an act for the man watching us.
“No,” I mumbled as her nails dug in deeper.
“What are the rules, honey?” she asked with a loving smile that made me feel like throwing up.
“No leaving the house when you’re gone,” I answered how she had thought me to, automatically.
“Then why—” I saw burning anger rise up in her eyes, but before she could continue a knock echoed through the apartment.
I took a step back in relief as my mother let go of me, wiping off the traces of blood on her finger tips with a paper towel she snatched from the counter.
Finally, he was here. I could leave.
She sent me a derisive glare. “Go to your room, Olive. I’ll deal with you later.”
I obeyed and ran to my room. Sick to my stomach, I made a detour to the bathroom down the hallway. Bent over the toilet bowl, I could only dry-heave. There was nothing in me to throw up. I was empty.
I collapsed to the floor, exhausted. The cold tiles warmed me somehow. I didn’t feel like getting up. With nothing to distract me, my thoughts slowly drifted back to him. I thought about the burger—the one thing I didn’t regret.
See Kayden, I told him in my mind, hot tears burning my eyes, your kindness would have been for nothing.