My mom is in the bathroom, balancing herself precariously on a three-step ladder. She is actually wiping the ceiling from corner to corner. I am relieved when I see her concentrating so deeply on her task she does not notice me and am grateful she is not going to ask me a hundred and one questions. Although I have had many boyfriends, she has never seen me in such near passionate circumstances before.
I let sleeping dogs lie and I walk past the bathroom door softly. I close my bedroom door quietly and then I drop down onto my bed. I try to remember the story Kieran told me. There was a girl and there were two brothers. Did he tell me about shadows, I cannot remember. I do not think so.
Against my will, my mind drifts to Jayden.
I wake up and everything is pitch black dark. I hear voices coming from downstairs. My hand finds its way naturally toward the switch for my bedside lamp and I click it on.
Slowly I get up from my bed. I must have fallen asleep and my hungry, disgruntled stomach insisted I wake up.
I walk down the stairs quietly. Each step hesitates before I put it down onto the ground in case it causes a creak. Halfway down the stairs, I realize the voices I am hearing are actually coming from the TV, and I smile at my own silliness.
My mom is curled up on the couch again. Is this going to become a familiar picture?
I look down at her peaceful sleeping face for a moment. There is a dirty streak across her cheek and her hair is still tied up in a tangled mess on top of her head.
Turning away from her sadly, I walk up the steps to the immersion closet. I pull a thick comforter from the top shelve and then when I am standing next to her again, I drape it over her gently. She murmurs softly as she snuggles into the blanket. I turn to the television and I switch it off.
Quietly I make myself a toasted cheese sandwich. I carry the plate with my sandwich and a glass of Cranberry Juice up to my bedroom. Fluffing up my pillows, I lean them against the wall behind my bed, and then when I sit down on my bed, I lean my back against my pillows and bring my knees up. I take a bite of my sandwich as I select Shannon’s name on my phone.
She answers after the second ring; her voice sounds groggy.
I ask, “Did I wake you”
“Uh, duh.” I hear her fumble with something. “Gawd, Heather. It is like two in the morning.” Sleepily she asks, “What’s wrong then?”
Apologetically I say, “Sorry. I just needed to speak to someone.”
She groans as she stretches. “Bout what?”
“Kieran.” I actually hear her sit up straight on her bed.
“I kissed him.”
She laughs softly. “Heather! You are such a slag! I swear you only met him yesterday.”
Insulted, I defend myself, “Not yesterday. Friday.”
“Well, then it is okay then. You met him two days ago.”
“What’s wrong with kissing him, miss high and mighty? Besides, he looks at me in this funny kind of way. I can’t really describe it, but it is as if he knows me since forever.”
“Did he say he loves you?”
“No! Why would he? Really, Shannon, you are being daft.”
She laughs. “Did you then say you love him?”
“Please, Shannon! I do not have to love someone to kiss them, or do I? When did I fall into this alternate universe, where you think you have to love someone to kiss them? Besides, you know how I feel about love, more so now that my dad upped and left.”
“Yeah, yeah.” She says mockingly, “I will know when I love someone, and only then will I ever say it to anyone.”
“Don’t use my own words against me!”
She giggles. “Is he a nice kisser?”
I smile. “Yeah, kind of.”
Seriously, she asks, “Were you there when your dad fetched his things?”
“No. I left early to meet up with Kieran.” I add sadly, “I couldn’t bring myself to stay.”
“It’s sad. I would rather have my mom and dad at each other’s throats all day than have them get divorced.”
“I feel sorry for my mom, though. She is not as tough as she makes herself out to be.”
“What’s she doing?”
“Today, she cleaned the whole house, from ceiling to skirting boards. Tonight is the second night she has fallen asleep in front of the TV.”
Shannon gives a long sigh. “I hope it never happens to us. Do you think Dermot loves me?”
“Do you want him to love you?”
“I actually do think he loves you. So he hasn’t said it yet?”
“No.” She moans sulkily.
“He will, just give him time.” I do not want to sound like my mother, but I have to say it. “You know, of course, you shouldn’t go all the way, even if he does say it?”
I know her so well and I know she is rolling her eyes as she says, “I know. No sex until I’m married.”
I laugh. “Actually, it should be no sex, ever. These days people get married, sleep together, make babies and then they break up anyway. I cannot get my head around it. I swear it is so ridiculous.”
“Last year, Carol’s mom and dad got divorced, and you never said then that love is lost.”
“Yeah, but now it has happened right here in my own house and I see it more clearly now. They loved each other enough to want to spend the rest of their days with each other, so why don’t they love each other anymore?”
“I don’t know, Heather. People don’t take love serious anymore.”
I sigh, just as she yawns. “I better go. I’ll see you tomorrow at school.”
“Not tomorrow. You will see me in a few hours.”
“I am sorry I woke you.”
“No worries.” I hear her smile. “You’re okay and everything will work out fine, you’ll see.”
“Night, night Heather.”
She ends the call and I sit staring vacantly at the wall across from me, eating my sandwich. Dark shadows loom in the corners of my eyes, pressing down on me.