Girl's Night

By
A my name is Alice my husbands name is Al we life in Alabama and we like apples. The chanting seemed to fill the room, not floating through an open window, but forcing its way through every crack in the mint green walls. Every square inch of plaster had been coated in pale pastels that reminded the daughter of ice cream. French Vanilla dinning room, strawberry den. For the first month she thought the runs to baskin robins were cravings. She stared at the floor after that, a cooked cabbage green pocked with ground in juicy fruit and wads of dried dip. She knew the nausea was not morning sickness. What's wrong with some nice bright primary colors? her mother would ask her during their weekly phone call. "A bold pallet will liven up the place the place, add some flavor". The daughter smiled. Flavor? 49, right in this walk up, try the hall, cotton candy, very low calorie. Her mother didn't smile. She could hear behind the wry tone a small voice with a pleading edge, a voice that did not belong to her daughter yet escaped her lips so many times in the past five years. Bright walls are too stimulating for the baby. The baby. The daughter knew better than to verbalize that reason now, but when she had her eyes had lit with such ecstasy the mother was sure she would find this baby in the next room, gratefully gazing at the non-stimulating walls. She didn't know how to handle it. While woman in her office battled by the water cooler, pink blazer sure life begins at three months, grey pant suit insisting the moment of conception, her daughter had decided it began the moment she conceived the idea. Every time she started to remind the daughter there was no baby, she stopped short, feeling the weight of forceps in her hand, and not able to destroy the life growing in her daughters mind.
She'd invited her daughter over for a girl's night. She had never been the kind of woman who would organize such an evening, favoring a shot of vodka over any fizzy cocktail, and her nails were perpetually slicked in 99 cent polish, blood red to mask what her young secretary called her terribly neglected cuticles. But she had read a Dear Abby column saying it was a good way to get a woman's mind off something, and she had always felt an inexplicable confidence in Abby. Something about the reassuring smile that never wavered, no matter how grim the headline. How could you help trusting a woman undaunted by 30 point font declaring, My boyfriend beats me, how can I improve my roast? So the mother had drawn up a shopping list. She found boxes of drink mix decorated with pictures of beautiful women, lips suggestively resting on the sugared rim of their martini glass. Women who wouldn't dream of doing anything to jeopardize their ability to fit into their little black dresses. She picked up tiny jewels and an even tinier bottle of glue, but with each step towards the register she felt a pang of guilt at treating her daughter like a magpie, attempting to distract her with glimmers of light.
The daughter hid behind the tower of whole grain cereal, watching her mother's commanding strides as she wove between the foot scrubs and bikini wax. The warm pride as she watched her dignified scrutiny of the banana scented hair masks felt at odds with the tight strain in her thighs and arms as she flattened herself against the wholesome boxes. The tenseness reminded her of her high school years, always frozen in the shadow's of the schools archway, cigarettes thrust behind her back burning holes into her jeans that made her girlfriends think she was tough. Her mother sewed tiny daises over the burns, and never told her how the neon green strips across her sneakers gave her away every time.
The mother called out to the daughter, sparing her the embarrassment of discovery by showcasing her purchases with the enthusiasm of someone on the home shopping network. She steered her towards the register, consciously avoiding a glance at her daughters carriage, not for fear she might spot this months 6th home test, but that she would see the hazy halagramed child her daughter projected perched on the seat.
The light was on above the express lane, and the mother knew not even her devotion to her daughter could have made her toss more than a dozen shimmering pink items into her basket. The daughter abandoned her carriage by the magazine rack, tucking a small box in the crock of her elbow and grabbing a snickers across from the aisle.
The cashier turned to the pair with a weary smile. Her delicate arms rested a moment on her belly, round and tight beneath the grey smock, before grabbing the first mixer box and sliding it across the scanner. "You girls throwing a party?" she asked as she bagged a couple bottles of vixen red 89. "No, just a quiet girl's night in", the mother replied in a voice she hoped would express an unsateble desire to exfoliate. She handed the girl a few bills, her face tight at the thought of paying $20 dollars for something like colored sand, and turned expectantly towards her daughter.
The daughter's gaze was fixed on the cashiers stomach. Without moving her gaze she put the candy bar on the belt, then the box. The cashier smiled sympathetically as she rang it up. "Guess you won't might not be able to help your Ma finish those cosmos hunh?. Haven't had a drink in 6 months, and I'm starting to wonder if its worth it!" Her laughter followed the daughter as she followed her mother daizly to the car.
The mother looked at her daughters eyes in the rear-view mirror. She had never seen such defeat in them. Her thoughts drifted to her holy mission, the jars clinking in the back filled with drink and cream to calm and heal. She looked again at her daughter. "Have you thought of names for a girl?"





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