7 - Where Something Happens to the Girl

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         I zipped up my jacket on its coat hanger and stuffed it into the closet. I opened and shut all of my drawers, making sure everything was in its designated spot. I straightened my covers and arranged Horace neatly on top of my pillow.

         Giving the room a final onceover, I nodded to myself and took a breath. I stepped outside my room and shouted, “Mom, I’m ready!”

         It was something of a tradition in my family, had always been. After a short trip or vacation, my mother would always make a point of checking my room. I was organized on a regular basis, but never felt like unpacking and cleaning after trips. She knew that, and the first vacation after I got my own room, was quick to establish a game.

         “Are you sure, Jasslyn?” she called back from her own room, where she was no doubt making sure not a single thing was out of place.

         I didn’t know why I still played her games. I could’ve said no to this game, no to Funky Night, no to Lazy Day, no to a lot of things, and my mother would’ve accepted it without feeling hurt. But they reminded me of when my dad was around. And I might’ve wanted to bring some of that back. Nothing was complicated when you were a kid. Sometimes I would be so annoyed that I had to play along with my mother’s antics. Sometimes I wanted to tell her to quit treating me like a child, to treat me like I at least had half a brain. But then I would think of how much lighter and easier it always was to kid around like I did all those years ago, and I knew how much I would miss it once it was gone.

         So I answered, “I’m sure!”

         I heard her footsteps come down the hallway, and turned to look around my room. My friend Monica had called the minute she had seen our car pull into the street. She lived right on the corner, the welcome mat of the rest of the neighbourhood.

         “Just wait until you see my nails,” she had said.

         I crossed my fingers as my mother came through the doorway. If she spotted anything put hurriedly away, she would call a one-hour “time out” and wouldn’t come and check my room until the hour had passed. When the game first started, it had been ten minutes, but the time outs slowly extended to “accommodate my increased lack of organization”, as my mother liked to call it.

         She hunched her back as she inspected the room. She used to put on a cap and bring out the one magnifying glass we had in our house, treading slowly around my room dropping lines like, “Interesting, veeeerry interesting” and “Just as I expected!” Nowadays, the walk was the only thing she kept. The cap was stowed away in our Costumes Box, and the magnifying glass was kept in the living room for when my mother didn’t have her glasses with her. I had either insisted that she ditch all of that for my social sanity, or she had gotten too lazy for it. I had come to terms with myself that I was more than willing to play along, if my mother didn’t do any of that in front of my friends.

         “Good, good…” she muttered as she trundled around my bed and pulled open my drawers, sifting through just a little.

         “Rule number one,” she had said when I demanded to remake my room. “I’ll have no caution tapes or ‘Keep out!’ signs on your door, all right, Jass? Number two, no ‘don’t touch my stuff’ attitude, either, okay, honey? I don’t have the plague.”

         She hadn’t been able to think of a number three, but that was all right with me. Though occasionally crazy, my mother was reasonable.

         “So…?” I prompted, trying to hurry her along in her inspection process.

         “You vill not rush a detecteeve, Jasslyn,” she said, waving her hand at me.

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