A Time For Change

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When mom walked in, I realized how screwed I was. Her face was showing confusion, bewilderment, and most of all, she was shocked. I looked at her, letting no feelings show through my sea green, almond-shaped eyes.

“Where’s my daughter?” Mom asked, now in denial.

I rolled my eyes and stood up. “Right here, unfortunately.”

“You aren’t my daughter.”

I rolled my eyes, yet again, and walked over where her feet stood planted, as if they were legs of stone. I looked at her straight in the face and mimicked the “perfect daughter” smile I used to know so well. “It’s your only daughter.”

“Eileen , what have you done?” My mom asked, finally getting over the shock I wasn’t hers to dress up like a sick version of Barbie.

I sighed and turned around dramatically, heading for the stairs. “I knew you wouldn’t understand anyway.”

My mother gasped surprisingly, which I snickered at, “We’re not through talking.” She tried to put some authority in her voice, but I wasn’t afraid.

I was now going up the stairs, step by deliberate step, “Sally? Yeah. We are.”

Sally, Mom’s first name is plain, fitting her personality well. Her view of the world was a little twisted, but not surprising. Every teen was corrupted with evil, except her daughter, or used to be.

Anyway, when I called her Sally, which did it. No one under 18 called her by her first name, especially her daughter. With a new kind of strained-to-keep-calm authority, she said, just loud enough for me alone to hear “Get down here-now.”

I froze, turned around, mockingly marching down the carpeted steps.
“Yeah…?”

“What happened? Before I left for Michael’s family reunion, you said you would be fine. I trusted you. I would expect David to act like this, but not you! What did Rachel do to my baby?” pleaded Mom, reaching out to touch my, now cropped-short, auburn hair.

Okay, lemme explain this. Mom and Michael, my step-dad, went on this elaborate family reunion for Michael’s side of the family. David and I were left with some old nanny. When I realized that I had basically no parental supervision, I started to get away with more and more, changing every day into one of the “corrupted” teens. Alrighty, moving on!

I snapped back in disgust, my eyes narrowed and threatening, “Rachel didn’t do this. I am fine. I’m still living aren’t I?” I challenged.

Mom replaced her hand to her slender side, hurt and speechless for a second. Then, she regained her composure, snapping her eyes just past me. “I’m a good mother aren’t I? I do not think I deserve this. You‘re acting just like your brother. David never cares about anyone but himself…” her voice wandered off, as did her eyes, searching the room and its surroundings, but never looking directly at me. Suddenly, she started again. “My good mother instincts told me not to leave you! I should have listened. I’m sorry I wasn’t there. Is this your way of showing me you’re angry with me?” She paused from her rant, just long enough to flicker her eyes at my expression. I was obviously stunned, with my mouth gaping wide open. “What…? What’s wrong? ” She asked, naively confused.

I shook my head, as if shaking off my visible emotions to the cold, hardwood floor that Daddy put in just before the accident. “Good mother, huh? Yeah mom, you were great.” My voice was dripping with sarcasm. “A mother is someone who lets her children be what they want to be. I wanted to play sports, but no, it was not for her lady-like perfect daughter. She needed to play piano.” I exhaled, letting my frustration show, but just for a minute. I looked up, moving my hair out of my eyes. “You weren’t a mother. You were a jail keeper.” And with that, I walked out the door leaving my mother speechless, for once.






*

Rachel opened the door, apparently not surprised to see me. “Eileen! Hey! I saw your mom pull in the driveway about 10 minutes ago. I knew that it wasn’t gonna be pretty, and you would be coming over soon.”

“Yeah. It wasn’t all that great of a conversation,” I admitted. Sheepishly smiling, I added, “She didn’t like my hair.” I fingered my short auburn hair, which used to be long until I decided it was just one more thing that made me like my mother. So, Rachel cut it for me. I thought it looked pretty cute, Mom obviously didn’t.

Rachel laughed and hugged me tight, inviting me in. “Come on in, we’ll make omelets.” I laughed with her and stepped inside, happy for the new carefree environment.

After making omelets, which was our way of best-friend therapy, and talking until dark, I decided to make my way back to the house. I walked as slow as possible, knowing that nothing good awaited me. If Dad were still here, he would understand. Why did he have to die? Why did she have to get remarried so early? Didn’t she love him? I was absorbed in my own thoughts as I walked in the door, heading for the stairs out of habit. When I heard my name, I jumped and turned around, by instinct. My mom and my step-dad, Michael, were sitting on the loveseat in the dining room, clearly waiting for me to come in. I walked in and looked down at my parallel-placed feet.

“Sit down,” Michael said, almost invitingly.

I looked at him strangely, my look questioning his authority. He knew I didn’t like him. He knew that I thought he was trying to replace my dad, one step at a time. I watched my feet move mechanically to the nearest couch, and sat down, my hands between my knees. I could feel their stares boring into me, trying to understand me. I was like an experiment to them. An experiment gone wrong. “You can’t act like this-” Michael began.

“Why not?” I interrupted.

“Well - because. It’s. Um. Hurting your mother. That’s why”

“Okay. Well, it’s not like she never hurt me in my past and she never stopped.”

My mom buried her head in Michael‘s shoulder pathetically. “Everyone makes mistakes.”

“Yeah. I guess that’s true.”

Michael paused, trying to think of what to say next. “So aren’t you going to apologize to Sal - I mean, your mom?”

“Why? I didn’t do anything.” I sighed and moved to explain myself. “The only reason Mom is upset is ‘cause I’m not her. I finally realized I can’t go through life being my mom and who she wants me to be. That’s not me.” I motioned to my outfit, my hair, my makeup, “This - is me. And I don’t need anyone’s approval of who I want to be.”

Michael was, of course, totally speechless. He kinda sucked at the whole father thing. That’s why his son, Tyler, was kind of a brat. He entered sixth grade this year, and is annoying as a mosquito bite on a hot day. Right on queue, he ran in, knowing this is a conversation that he shouldn’t be apart of.
“Daddy, daddy, daddy! Guess what happened today?” He stopped right at the couch, continuing to yell in all of our ears.

“You know, Tyler, it really. . .it really isn’t the ti-”

“Why not? You said there was always time for me. Just because Eileen got in trouble, doesn‘t mean that I can‘t have time with my daddy” He made exaggerated motions with his entire body, moving his arms about, the works, when the moment called for it of course. This kid definitely knew what he was doing, and knew it would break his dad.

Michael smiled, a totally fake one might I add, and asked, “What happened today, Tyler?”

Tyler beamed and took a deep breath; apparently, it was a pretty long and fatiguing story if he had to take a huge breath. “Well, it all began in homeroom. Tony told me that Alice said that Mary said that Marissa said that Justin said that Lily said that she liked me. It’s soooooo gross!”

Michael blinked with a blank expression on his face. “That’s…awesome Tyler.”

Tyler, pleased to have told his story, bounced out of the room singing some song involving girls having cooties. I rolled my eyes, but chuckled at Michael’s failure to understand even the simplest circumstances of Tyler’s middle school life. Michael blinked again blankly, watching Tyler frolic off, then focused his attention on me again. “Eileen, you should know better then to act this immaturely.”

That was total bull, and he knew it. He had no idea what he was doing. I was not going to follow someone’s orders who had no idea why he was assigning them. “Michael, I mean. . .um. Dad. . . “I grimaced, I only had one dad, and he wasn’t Dad. “It’s pretty clear you have no idea what you’re doing. So it would be great to stay and chat, but I have things to do, places to visit, people to see? All you need to know is that I’m not Mom, and I’m not her perfect daughter. Leaving for two weeks was exactly what I needed. I learned that I don’t need Mom to decide what I should wear in the morning, or how I style my hair, or who I can and can not hang out with. Those are my decisions, not hers. I want to live my life as I want to live it.” I stood up to leave, but Mom looked up with red, bloodshot, hurt eyes that made the merciful part of me to sit down again. She was hurt, no matter what she had done to me, and no one deserved to be hurt by someone they loved, right?

“Mom. . .ugh. This isn’t fair! No one cares how I feel! Everyone is bending over backwards to help Mom and her problem child but no one bothered to help me when Dad got taken away from me! Mom? Don’t you remember? Or is Michael all you remember? Do you remember how he died, Mom? Do you? I do. It was like yesterday. We were waiting for him to come home, and he never came home. He said he was driving home, five minutes away. Five minutes! And then. And then some wasted guy decided that he wanted to kill Dad! Just like that! Was anyone there for me when he never came home? No! I was perfectly fine, I was the one who was keeping everyone else from going completely insane! No one checked to see if I was okay. My friends understand me. My friends always know how I‘m feeling. They care how I feel. And you. . .” I paused to breathe and swallow my tears. “You. You got married six months later! It was like you didn’t care anymore. You did what you wanted to do. And yeah, sure, that’s fine! Don’t bother to see what perfect Eileen has to say. I thought I was being selfish, for wanting at least five seconds of your attention. Maybe I am, but it doesn’t change that I still wanted those five seconds.” The tears, now falling freely down my face showed my frustration, anger, and most of all, my hurt I had been hiding for so long. I ran upstairs, humiliated, into my brothers room.

When I slammed the door shut and slid down to the floor on the other side, David immediately put down his book he was reading on his un-made bed and sat down beside me, putting his arm around my shoulder. I cried there for a while until I could tell him what happened. When I finally calmed down and wiped away my tears, he was ready to speak up.

“You’re totally right, you are your own person, but, I think you’re going to the extreme,” David said hesitantly. “I mean, do you really need to change everything about you?”

I blinked, surprised. I repeated the question to myself over again, debating seriously if I really did need to change everything. I fingered my short hair, remembering how fiercely I wanted to be different. Was it really necessary? “I guess not,” I finally said, halfway to myself.


David patted my knee and stood up, heading back to his bed to read, “I think you know what you should do, and I don’t want to ruin anything so I’ll just stop where I am and let you figure out the rest.” He laughed quietly to himself, and he picked his book back up, immediately entranced with another world.
David was always quiet and introverted. He didn’t mean to be or anything, but that’s just the way he is, I guess. He’s actually really sweet and understands me completely. Mom thinks he’s selfish. I think that’s because he’s always to himself, and he doesn’t get that he needs to talk to Mom for a half-hour for her to be content. He’s always there for me, though. I guess I’m pretty lucky to get such an awesome brother.

Slowly swimming back to reality, I sat there for a few minutes, still half-way absorbed in my own thoughts. I knew that David was right, but that meant going to Mom and apologizing. I realized in the end that I had to apologize for exploding at Mom, and it needed to happen first before I do anything else. I took a deep breath, stood up, and walked out of David’s room.

I walked down the stairs, antsy and nervous. I wasn’t exactly sure what was going to happen, but I wasn’t going to turn away now. The seemingly endless stairs finally came to a close, and I stepped into the dining room.
Michael and Mom were still in their original positions, the same when I walked in earlier. I took another deep breath, and exhaled slowly. Okay, I can do this.

“Mom?”

Mom looked up, again her red eyes cutting though my soul harshly, but I kept strong. “Yes?” Her voice was broken and cracked, cutting my soul again into another shriveled piece of nothingness.

“You’re right. I shouldn’t be treat you this way. I’m really sorry for yelling at you and being an awful daughter.” I bowed my head in shame, tears forming to my eyes again.

Mom said nothing for a while; I guess she was regaining her composure. Then she said quietly, so quiet I wasn’t even sure she said anything at first, “You’re right too.”

I looked up, surprised that my own mom, the mom I had known since I was born (naturally), was admitting she was wrong? “Really?”

Mom sat up straight, without any help from Michael. “I was thinking. I was thinking about what you said. I never realized that you really felt that way. I realized that I never gave you the time to actually open up. I assumed how you felt, which wasn’t the best way to be a mother. I’m sorry, Eileen.”

All of my fears, burdens, everything, just washed away. I felt lighter then I had in months. “It’s okay, Mom.” I watched a smile grow on her face and added with my own smile. “We all make mistakes right?”

Mom laughed, relieved and held out her arms, welcoming me in a warm, much-needed embrace. It seemed as if everything would work out.

As the days went on, everything seemed to go by really fast. I was able to talk to Rachel about what had happened. At first she thought I was going back to my ways of being my mom, so she got mad at me. Eventually, she realized that I was just trying to find my own person. It ended up working out okay.

After everything seemed to cool down, I recalled my past memories. it seemed a lot longer then just a few days that all this happened. A whole lifetime passed in one day it seems. Now? Each day I find something knew about myself. I still don’t know who I am exactly, but maybe that’s what you’re supposed to figure out in high school.





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Rachel B. said...
Jun. 3, 2009 at 4:15 am
bad ending, IMO. these sort of stories ALWAYS end with the main character apologizing. in a strong character, you have to mix things up a bit and keep the character strong, not just turn her into a noodle from a few alligator tears. i never apologize in arguments with my mom, but thats just because shes being evil like always.
 
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