My Mother's Daughter

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Once upon a time, there was a perfect happy family, a mom, a dad, a boy, and a girl. They lived in a large house, recently remodeled. They had home-cooked meals every night, which they ate promptly at six-thirty. Now picture this happy family; Dad: Jason Dallas, forty two years old, owner of a large, important construction company, happily married with two, smart, well behaved children. Mom: Ella Dallas, forty years old, a housewife, happily married with two, smart, well behaved children. Children: Blaire (yours truly) and Blaine Dallas, fourteen years old, fraternal twins, smart, well behaved, soon to be in high school. Now picture this family sitting around a large oak dining table, Mom and Dad sipping wine, kids each with a glass of two percent milk, eating pork chops, mashed potatoes with gravy, and corn. Dad goes to put his glass down, “Kids, your mother and I have something important to tell you.” His expression is solemn and unsmiling.
I chew slowly, my eyes moving from my dad, to my mom, whose eyes are filled with tears. I don’t respond, intending to let my dad continue. Blaine can’t just be silent though, he jumps in his seat, “Hawaii again! Yeah, this is how you tricked us last time, looking like bad news, then BAM! Vacation.” He grins smugly, thinking he ‘beat the system’.
Mom breaks down suddenly and loudly, her sobs filling the entire room with sadness and tension. Dad shakes his head from side to side, shoulders sagging. “No…guys, your mom and I have decided to get a divorce.”
I finally swallow, “Not separated, but a divorce?”
“We’ve been legally separated for two months, the final outcome is divorce.”
Blaine stops bouncing, and he hangs his head low, still processing the information. He looks up, opens his mouth, closes it again, and then blurts, “No, no, no, no…You can’t. No, no, no, no, no, no, no…” he says bouncing, and shaking, and making the most impossibly heartbroken look slip and slide on his face. Tears slip down his cheeks, and he pounds his fists on the table, over and over and over again. He stops, just as mom’s sobs come to a halt. My dad and I still sit quietly, eating our food, and ignoring the scene Mom and Blaine are making. It’s silent in the room. I pull myself up, load my plate into the dishwasher, and make my way towards the stairs, turning at the last second to say, “I want to go with dad.” As I climb the stairs to my room it’s silent for a moment, but then I hear Blaine excuse himself from the table, intending to stampede after me.
“Blaire, Blaire, Blaire!” he shouts. I don’t turn around, so he runs up from behind me, yanking my shoulder until I face him. “What was that?!”
I sigh, “Blaine, there’s…there isn’t a point to arguing, or making a big to-do, or whatever. They are getting a divorce.” I say the last sentence slowly, with long pauses between each word. He needs to get this through his thick skull, but knowing Blaine, he’d dwell on it until it ate him alive.
“No, they aren’t! We can fix this. We can make it better! They have to go another ten months before they can file for divorce. If we’re just…really, really, really, great until then, they won’t have a reason to do it!” Typical Blaine, thinking everything revolves around him; therefore everything can be fixed by him.
“This isn’t about us, stupid. It’s about them. They have a problem, they found a solution. Just leave it alone.” I stare at him passively, hoping he’ll drop it, but knowing he won’t.
“How can you even say that? Divorce isn’t a solution, it’s a problem! You’re not really ok with this, are you?” His face is twisted and contorted into rage, fear, sadness, and desperation all at once. In my mind I see him as a cubist styled painting, each emotion portrayed as a different geometric shape.
“Ugh! I’m not ok with it, but I can’t change it either, so what’s the point? I said my piece at dinner. If this is happening, I want to go with dad. End of my story, Blaine, so go away.”
“Why, why, why, why, why? Why dad?!” He repeats his words, and stomps his feet as he shouts them at me.
I answer, point blank, eyes glazed over, and no expression on my face. “I can’t live with mom without him.”
Blaine stares at the floor. He doesn’t look up, but says quietly, “Well, I can’t leave mom without anybody, so I’m staying here.”
My blank face slips into a frown, “But then…you’ll be here, and I won’t?”
“Yeah, I guess so.” He smiles tightly, “It won’t be that bad, right?”
“Can’t be.” I crease my eyebrows together, “Did Dad say when he’s leaving?”
“Soon, I don’t know…” For once in his life, Blaine stands completely still and silent and I almost break down right then and there. But, I hold myself together, reach forward and squeeze his shoulder, and I turn down the hallway into my room. I hear Blaine start to walk towards his, and I want to call out to him, and tell him things will work out alright. But, I close my mouth quickly and shake my head. I won’t say something that I don’t actually know, and at the rate that our lives are spinning out of control, I’m not sure at all if things will be alright. I know Blaine understands though.
Two weeks later, Blaine slams his door shut loudly and dramatically, tears falling down his face, his hair still wet from the shower. He screams at me over the sound of my stereo, and my locked door, “So, you’re getting what you want! Leaving with Dad and you didn’t even tell Mom about it! Blaire! Blaire, Blaire, Blaire!” I cringe at the repetition of my name. I slap the off button on my stereo, almost knocking it over in the process, and I swing my door open, “Knock it off! You’re being ridiculous, and by screaming, you’re making this worse for her!” I’m angry, and for once I want Blaine to see something from my point of view, instead of his own impossibly self centered one.
He snarls angrily, “You told me you would tell her!”
I sigh, thinking back to our conversation the previous week. I had said that I would tell her. “I talked to Dad about it, and he said we probably shouldn’t. I mean, chances were she’d be sleeping when we left anyways. Obviously you blew that though.” I look at him pointedly, as if that’ll shut him up.
“She was already awake, Blaire. She asked me for coffee, and when I asked her how she was handling it, she didn’t know what I was talking about.” He quickly becomes sad and morose. He would sympathize with her, I would accuse her, and we would end up glaring at each through the rearview mirror of the U-Haul Dad rented to move us from suburbia to the city. I don’t want to leave with bad memories of Blaine. We’re too close for that. “Could we…put this argument on hold, maybe? Until a day when we have the time to finish it and make up. I don’t want to leave mad at you.” I look at him pleadingly. “Yeah…yeah, Blaire, it’s fine. Just, say bye to Mom or something? Geez, tell her you love her! It’d make her day.” He pleads with me in return.
“The only person, who’ll make her day, is her. She has the choice to make this end. To stop whatever silent war’s going on in her head. You know, it’s not even so silent anymore. It’s what tore them apart, and it’s what’s tearing us apart now. If you were smart, you’d be leaving with me too, because eventually she’ll break you in half.”
“How do you see that in her? I look at her, and I want to help. You look at her and you see the devil. You and Dad are selfish. You should be sticking around to get her through this, but all you two want is to get on with your own perfect lives.” He clenches his teeth and narrows his eyes at me. In a flash, we’ve begun arguing again. He stays silent though; I stare at him, then at the floor. His eyes focus on me, and don’t move.
I hear a shuffle of feet and I turn to see my mom. This is the first time she’s been out of bed before noon in almost two years. I avoid her eyes, turning mine to a picture on the wall of the four of us that was taken three years earlier. I don’t like the picture, and I never have, because in it we look happy and perfect, and I’ve never been one to accept lies. But I continue to stare at it, because I know that when I look at her, she’ll be waiting with the same sad, blank stare she’s had plastered on since the day Uncle Toby had died. He had a brain tumor, and even though he had outlasted what the doctors estimated, he didn’t last. Mom and Uncle Toby were twins, just like Blaine and I. Blaine feared the same thing would happen to us. I only feared we would have the same reaction as Mom. She speaks soft and delicately, as if a word above a whisper will break her in half. “You know we argued just like that. I was like Blaine, of course,” She looks at him lovingly, “Stomping my feet, a million emotions running wild in my head. Toby was like you, Blaire. Sweet, and nice, but cold and even tempered. We balanced each other just as evenly as you two do.”
I meet her eyes and regret doing so, even as her gray ones barely greet mine. Instead of the face I expect, her eyes hold admiration and respect. For once, I can’t justify hating her to myself. She holds my gaze, and as hard as I try to keep my face blank, I start to slip. I feel my mouth curve downwards, into a frown, my eyes begin to water and I feel her pushing her emotions onto me, with more power and force than I could ever remember her displaying, even before my Uncle’s death. I open my mouth to speak, to say something flippant and restore my façade of stone, but she rushes to beat me. “You hate me?” She whispers, desperation and a plea for the truth work their way into the mere three words, and I’m struck with the intense realization that genetically, I am one half her, no matter how much I try to escape and evade it.
Blaine stares at us blankly, watching the intensity build and build, waiting eagerly for the climax of the story. I want to turn, to tell him to leave, or mind his own business, but a part of me is scared of breaking my mother’s gaze, scared that I’ll never be able to find this part of myself again. I think about her bluntness, the unceremonious phrasing of what seems to be a loaded question. I begin to nod at the exact moment a tear slips from my eyes, rolling down my cheek, sliding off my chin, and she reaches forward to brush it from my face. Having been broken, the internal damn I’d built releases suppressed emotions in the form of tears, and I switch my nod into a fast and furious head shake. Mom takes me into her arms, and I collapse the weight of my body against her frail one. She rocks me back and forth until I calm down, seemingly an eternity later, but in reality just a few precious moments. I pull away from her, and turn towards the front of our house. I still believe leaving is the best thing for me. I hear her start after me, then stop. “I love you.” She says pouring meaning and a maternal tone into a statement I’d rarely heard her utter. “I love you too.” I say quietly.
Dad and I moved into an apartment in the city that day. We unpacked separately, but at the end of the day, gathered around a small table. We smiled and ate, and made comfortable small talk with one another. In my heart, I knew this was right for me, and for him. Replacing the stubborn, cold part of my resolution though, was the growing feeling of need for a relationship with my mother. Maybe we hadn’t progressed much that morning, but a work in progress was all either of us could handle at the moment. Anais Nin said, “Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through.” I was in the states and processes of metamorphosis, transition, evolution, and continual change. I was becoming my mother’s daughter, more and more each day.





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This article has 18 comments. Post your own now!

Ellie_Michelle said...
Dec. 25, 2009 at 1:48 am
That was really good! Amazing job, Jade.
 
Dani!~ said...
Jan. 30, 2009 at 11:11 pm
Oh my gosh Jade, so sad, but truly incredible~ love your brutal editor!~ :> cant figure out how to make a heart here! tehe but now it looks like a bird!~ lol
 
Kay Kay said...
Jan. 28, 2009 at 10:17 pm
Jade, this is really amazing. It tunes into reality, instead of having such a fairytale appearance. You're an amazing writer, and an amazing young woman. We all miss you here in Virginia Beach. Hope you come visit again really soon! I love you, sissy.

God Bless,
Kay Kay
 
1of UR AntJ'sNFL said...
Jan. 11, 2009 at 1:43 pm
We loved it, kept me reading to the very end. Great story!!!
 
Pat said...
Jan. 10, 2009 at 3:35 pm
Nice job Jade!!
 
SIGTEACH 2 said...
Jan. 8, 2009 at 7:00 pm
I appreciate the thought you put into the reality of the characters. You are a terrific writer!
 
Sunshiney~ said...
Jan. 8, 2009 at 6:56 pm
I LOVE IT SO MUCH!
 
dancr4evr said...
Jan. 8, 2009 at 6:31 pm
WOW!!! Awesome story Jade!!
I <3 u!!! :)
 
sigteach said...
Jan. 8, 2009 at 6:16 pm
You are a talented writer! I hope you will continue developing your talents.
 
KK said...
Jan. 8, 2009 at 1:56 am
Wow!!!
 
britt_babyy15 said...
Jan. 7, 2009 at 12:05 am
Jade! I love this story, it's very well written! (: I'm proud of you! When you publish a book I want you to sign it!
 
buns said...
Jan. 6, 2009 at 11:26 am
WOW, It is awesome and well written. Keep me informed so I can buy your first book. Hope you will autograph it for me. You are destined for greatness!
 
joyful spring said...
Jan. 6, 2009 at 4:14 am
very good story, seems to be expressing thoughts and emotions well nd in a mature way beyond years.
 
Kai said...
Jan. 6, 2009 at 1:45 am
Wow! I am blown away. Good writing!
 
JMK42day said...
Jan. 4, 2009 at 3:24 pm
Well written and thoughtful article, much beyond years of a teen!
 
Jody1960 said...
Jan. 3, 2009 at 10:21 pm
great story, well written
 
raerae said...
Jan. 3, 2009 at 3:29 am
omg it was awesome!! keep up the good work =]
 
Krystal_baby12 said...
Jan. 3, 2009 at 3:21 am
I love you Jade Duggerr(:
 
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