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They Never Told Me
She sits across from me, eyebrows furrowed and hands crossed.
"But he loves me," she whispers, more to her lap than to me. The tears have already skydived from her eyes, falling down her youthful face. Her make-up did not smear because she didn’t wear any; she didn't need to.
"Norah, listen to me. Guys like Michael don't want what's best for you. Your dad and I want what's best, and we've decided you will stop seeing him."
"Oh, so what am I supposed to do, date a guy just like dad? One that can't spend more than ten minutes with his family without making unbelievable excuses to leave? In case you haven't noticed Mom, we're not exactly The Brady-freakin-Bunch."
"What your father does is not the issue here, Norah."
" Well, then. Let's talk about it!" Norah says haughtily, suddenly sitting upright and attentive.
"I'm not even going to begin that conversation. You're calling him tonight and telling him that your horrible mother told you to break up with him. Blame it on me, I don't care. Just do it."
I watch her slump back into the seat. Her eyes fall into her lap and new tears catch up to the older ones.
Kids will make your life feel complete, they tell you. They will make you a better person. That’s all very well, but they never warn you about everything that parenthood isn’t. Then again, that's just life. No one warns you marriage is filled with things other than "pure bliss" and "Oh! It’s wonderful to wake up to the same man every morning!" Right. It's wonderful waking up to an empty bed that held you and your husband before you drifted off to sleep the night before and then rolling over in the morning light to see the white sheets next to you, wrinkled and empty. His wallet and keys are always gone with him.
"You know what, Mom? Go screw up someone else’s life.”
I watch as she gets up from the dining table and grabs her bag and keys from the kitchen countertop. I don’t even stop her. We both need to calm down.
She opens the door and I look at her and let her know that she needs to be home in no more than two hours and if she even thinks of going to Michael’s she’ll have her keys taken away for a month. As always, my motherly advice is iced with her glare and the thunder of a slamming door.
I resume my day. I do the dishes, check my e-mail, and sit on the couch with the new Danielle Steel novel. Well, new to me because it was the last book I bought. And that was three months ago. Plenty of time for Ms. Steel to come out with another batch of books, but I’m not trying to keep up. I glance up at the clock as I turn pages, noting that she had seventy five minutes until she had to be home… one hour…forty-five minutes. I go to the linen closet and pull out the crochet blanket and settle back on the couch. The empty ticking house makes me feel cold.
I pick at the wild threads in the blanket and lose interest in the novel as thoughts stir in my mind, my eyes glazing over the newsprint pages.
Norah was a smart girl, very pretty and well-rounded. I don’t think I’ve failed her in anyway, yet I feel like I’ve let her down some.
I hear a car’s engine die down in the driveway and seconds later the door burst open, letting in warm air and laughter. Norah walks in, a Slushie in her left hand, and I see she is followed by three friends that swear I recognize but they all look the same so I don’t greet them by their names.
“Hi girls,” I call out from the couch. The giggling stops and I hear Norah’s voice, loud and satisfied “Don’t bother answering. Let’s go upstairs.”
They huddle upstairs and the only trace of them even being in the house is the booming of the radio behind Norah’s closed door and the giggles that occasionally erupt.
You’ve done it; you’ve made your husband and daughter despise you. Here you sit reading about the world that Danielle Steel created for sappy, empty people to read. A craving to fill in the longing space for a few minutes, but will inevitably returns to churn your insides for something more; something better.