Chapter 38: Barbara And Dan: Probably Timothy Leary In His Past Life

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Hi! This chapter coming v early bc I already posted it before oops! I wanted to sandwich Martin in between so that's why I deleted it before. Anyways, not much has changed w this chapter :-) 

I sat at the counter, eating my usual toasted peanut butter sandwich, watching mum bustle back and forth in the kitchen. Late afternoon. One of my favorite times of the day. The lighting reminded me of sepia tinged photographs, Dear Prudence, record players, never ending summer.

"Why don't you take your shoes off before you come in?" came her voice from under the sink. She emerged, holding a scrub brush. There was a patch of sunlight illuminating her hair.

"I just love them, mum, thank you so, so, much, you have no idea," my thirteen year old self had responded with a wide smile, swinging my feet and accidentally kicking the base of the counter.

She couldn't suppress a smile in return. "Well, take them off in the house. You don't want to clean off the marks, do you?

"No," I reluctantly agreed, and bent to lace them. From the other side of the counter, she asked me how my day was, the usual.

"Well, the math test went well, I think." I stopped to chew. "Also, at recess, Danny Newsport asked me out."

There was a clatter.

"Mum?"

I stood up, one of my laces undone. "Mum?"

The scrub brush had fallen from her hand. She picked it up quickly. "What did you say?"

I suddenly felt uncomfortably open, defensive. "I said no, mum."

She breathed out and set the scrub brush on the counter. "Okay, love. That's good." An uncomfortable pause. I didn't know what to do with my hands. My peanut butter toast lay on the plate next to me, but I wasn't hungry anymore. "Mum, are you angry?"

"No," she said quickly. "I just don't want—I just want you to have a boyfriend when you're ready."

"What if I'm ready now?" I persisted, leaning on the counter towards her, catching some rays of sun.

"You're not." An angrier tone. A scrub of the counter, water running.

Before, I didn't want a boyfriend. But now, for some odd reason, mum's words made me ache to have someone hold me, some male figure to love. I grew steadily more angry inside and sat down to shove the rest of the sandwich in my mouth.

"Don't shove food," she said testily.

I stood up and yelled, "You know, if dad were still here, it wouldn't be like this!"

I expected a clatter, even smashing of some sort of glass object, but when I slowly raised my eyes she had turned towards the sink by the window, her back a protective shell against my harsh words. Her body bathed in sunlight, covering her face. The afternoon slowed down. I got up and my mouth opened to form the words mum, but nothing came out, so I compensated and walked closer to her. She looked so soft, unmoving. I reached her and gently touched her shoulder. "Mum?"

She jumped, freezing for a second before walking out of the rom in jerky, uncomfortable movement. "Don't you ever say that shit around me again," she growled as the sunlight particles left her body and she moved towards the door, not before pausing to hurl over her shoulder, "Men are shit."

It was the first time she ever cursed at me. I couldn't move, still trying to process that four letter word, aimed at me, still standing in the kitchen in my doc martens, one of the laces still undone.

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