Chapter Eight--Black Tights

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When Jenna's eyes lock on Mrs. Lawson, four hundred emotions flash across her face like a projector is casting foreign slides against her future.  She sprints to her mother and pulls her into a rough embrace, but then it looks as if she remembers that she doesn't like her. Jenna distances herself, taking slow steps backwards until she collapses on the couch next to me.  I stare down at her high heels resting on the floor instead of any of the women here.  

Out of the corner of my eye, I can see Jenna ask her mom why she's at our house.  Her face tells me that this isn't a normal occurrence and she's terrified.  For some completely warped, wrong moment I feel the urge to take her hand or something.  That would just make things so much worse.  

"I've been contacting Karen for a while," Mrs. Lawson begins, signing and speaking at the same time like she does this often.

"Just tell me, Annabel," Jenna spits.  Annabel?  Why does she call her mother by her first name?

Mrs. Lawson gulps, wringing her hands in her lap before answering. "Josephine's not doing well."  That's nothing new.  I've been hearing that for an eternity.  "They've moved her into the ICU at this point.  About a month ago, she told me that she needed to see you, Jenna.."

A thousand questions dump into my mind.  Is this even legal?  If Jenna is in foster care, doesn't that mean that any rights to the birthmother are terminated until she's out? I have absolutely no idea.  Does she even want to see Jo again?  One look at Jenna tells me that she's thinking through all of these things as well.  Karen stares at both of us evenly, trying to gauge our reactions.  I can tell she's trying to pretend she isn't phased that I know Jo, let alone dated her.  

"The hospital where the younger Miss Lawson is staying at," Karen begins, "is only about an hour from our home.  If you are interested in this--and only if you feel completely comfortable--I will go up there with you for as long as necessary.  Even if we have to take off a few days of school."  She calmly at Jenna. "Spring break is coming up, and Dave and I have decided that we would be willing to let you be up there during that week if you would like.  After all, you, Jenna, you turned eighteen in November.  I can't pretend that you're a child in this situation."

Mrs. Lawson's eyes grow huge and then fall to her lap, like it just now dawned on her that her daughter is a legal adult.  Jen never seems that much older than me, but then again, Jo and I turned seventeen in February.  We share a birthday--the twenty--first--which is ironic since she claimed to be so much older than me when we met over two years ago.  

My mind can hardly even picture Josephine anymore.  What could she possibly look like now?  "You can sleep on it, of course, and don't feel pressured to do anything you don't feel ready for.  Even if you just see her for ten minutes it would make her so happy--" she blurts out, and then seems to remember that she needs to have some sort of control in this situation.  She's staring at Jenna so desperately that it hurts.  

All of a sudden, my palms grow increasingly sweaty, my head hot.  "So Jenna just gets to see her, but not me?"

"I didn't even know you knew the other girl--" Karen blurts out, but Annabel holds out one finger.  

"I don't know if they would allow people who aren't family in," she explains. "And what was your relationship with my other daughter even like the last time you saw her?"

My mind immediately darts to that day, our first kiss, the feel off her rough, wild curls and healing skin.   Surprisingly enough, I'm not whirred back to the past.   Maybe it's not time.  "We were still...together."

Mrs. Lawson's lips disappear and she takes out her phone, typing something out slowly with her index finger.  "John, you should probably just allow Jenna to go by herself--" Karen begins, but Jenna herself silences her.  

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