I don't remember much about the first three weeks of the summer my mom died. I suppose those weeks passed in the same way most previous summers did before the year I was fifteen; my mom picked me up at LAX in her Benz, I totally pigged out on food I wasn't allowed to have during the school year at Treadwell Preparatory Academy, lounged around by the pool with my best friend Allison, and endlessly hoped for a few moments alone with her older brother Todd, who I wanted to fall in love with me. My mom would have been around, I'm sure, occasionally asking me to help her with her suntan lotion or walk over to Larchmont Village to get her a coffee smoothie. For the most part my mom was somewhat of a shadow in my summer days even before the accident. Allison, who I've known since I was in kindergarten, used to say my mom was a periphery character.
She was always in the background, usually nursing a hangover. There were a few summers when she was recovering from plastic surgery, padding around the house in a robe with her swollen face bandaged. On weekend nights she would appear in my bedroom doorway wearing an obscenely short or low-cut dress and ask me how she looked. Embarrassing was never the answer I gave her.
She was not the kind of mom who baked cookies. Or gave out motherly advice (unless you'd consider advising your daughter to pad her bra to be typical parental guidance). She never seemed especially concerned about where I was going or who I was going out with – maybe because I was rarely going anywhere with anyone other than Allison. I think my insistence on attending boarding school and genuine interest in schoolwork floored her; my mom was a bit of a livewire when she was my age and I don't think she ever imagined she would give birth to a violin-playing bookworm. But however atypical our mother-daughter relationship was, it worked. By the end of the summer she usually seemed sad to see me pack my suitcases and head back to Massachusetts, and usually around Halloween I would feel a little homesick and miss her knocking around in the kitchen with her satin sleep mask propped up on her head.
It was just me and Mom, the two of us, the only family I had ever known. We lived in a small but pretty bungalow in West Hollywood and Mom worked from time to time doing guest roles on soap operas or singing back-up on commercial jingles. Having a mother who has one foot in the entertainment industry and spends the majority of her time milling around the house and ordering stuff on QVC isn't really that rare for Los Angeles. But I would consider my life to be abnormal because of my dad.
My biological father is a rock star.
Possibly the most famous American rock star there is, or at least he was in the early nineties when his band, Pound, first broke the charts. Luckily my mother had the sense not to give me his last name; I've always gone by Taylor Beauforte, which is my mother's last name. It's bad enough that everyone at Treadwell knows that my dad is Chase Atwood. It would be pure torture having complete strangers guess my genetic lineage if my last name were to give them a clue.
Not like I had anything to do with Chase Atwood, anyway. Up until that summer I had only met him twice. Yep. That's right. Twice in fifteen-and-a-half years. Once, when I was seven, Pound played at a huge amphitheater in Orange County and my mother took me backstage. My father had long hair then, with garish blond streaks, and in the Polaroid that my mother snapped of us together he was wearing a white leather coat with fringe on the sleeves. And, I suspect with horror, eyeliner. Total fashion tragedy.
Then, when I was twelve, I had a very uncomfortable lunch with him at a trendy burger joint near the airport, where our waitress kept winking at him and refilling his water glass needlessly while he and I tried to "connect." This awkward second meeting was entirely my mother's idea. At the time I thought she was innocently trying to help us establish some kind of father-daughter relationship but later I pieced together that it was a calculated step in her hitting him up for my tuition at Treadwell, which far exceeded the amount of his child support payments. At the time, he was already covering my clothes, doctor appointments, violin lessons and ballet classes, the latter of which had been my mom's idea.
What my father and I talked about during that lunch, I have no recollection.
|Travis Fimmel||as Jake|