Chapter Four

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The house is dark when my mom walks in. It's nearing midnight and I should be asleep by now, but most nights I can't relax until she's home. She walks up the stairs quietly but the old wood creaks beneath her weight anyways. The hallway light switches on and it pools beneath my door.

I pretend to be asleep as she goes into her room. I listen as the shower starts up and then wait until, fifteen minutes later, it shuts off again. Part of me wants to be mad at her for working so late, for never being around, for not having food in the fridge. A bigger part of me understands that she already feels bad enough about those things, and knows that saying something won't make it better.

When I walk into her room, she's wrapped up in her robe and combing out her hair. I sit behind her and take the comb from her hands, working out the knots where she left off. My mom, when she was young, was really beautiful, but now her hair's as much grey as it is brown and her skin's as wrinkled as it is smooth. She's gotten big, too, enough for me to be worried about her health. 

"How was work?" I ask her. She works in the parts department for a highway truck manufacturer and has since I was in kindergarten. Not the most glamorous, I'll admit, but it's steady and it pays decently enough.

She says, "Same shit, different day. It was ridiculously busy and Yadwinder came in almost an hour late, so I had to deal with most of it on my own."

We sit for a while, taking about her day while I detangle her hair. When that's done, I separate it into three parts and form a thick braid down her back. I hand her back the comb and we switch places.

"I had sex with Jessie today," I tell her as she starts to unravel my braids. Her hands still for a split second before she continues.

"Oh? How was it?"

I know she isn't surprised, because I told her when Jessie and I started talking about it. "It was...okay. To be honest, I expected it to be a lot worse. Carly told me that the first time she did it, she was sobbing because it hurt so much, but it didn't hurt me at all. It was just kind of uncomfortable."

My mom and I are close, I guess, compared to what I hear from the girls at my school. I'm her only daughter and she's my only parent, so it makes sense. Sometimes it's like she's more a friend than a mom and that's just the way I like it.

"Did you finish?" She's very adamant about women coming just as much during sex as men.

"No, but neither did he. I think we were both too nervous to really get into it."

She makes a noise of consideration. "Are you happy with your decision?"

I nod, forgetting that she's holding my hair and wincing when it pulls. "I'm glad that we did it together. I trust him a lot and I know he'd never hurt me, or use me."

"You two used protection, right?"

"Obviously. I'm not stupid."

"Everyone makes mistakes," she says, and then I remember that the only reason I'm around is because she forgot to use a condom; I am her mistake, even though she didn't mean it that way.

The comb feels good against my scalp and I let my eyes shut. "We certainly won't be doing it again."

"It takes practice to get good at it," my mom tells me. "If you want, I can take you down to the clinic over the weekend and get you a prescription for the pill."

I consider the offer for a moment before saying, "Thanks, but no. I really don't think I'll be doing it again anytime soon. I was just curious and now...I'm not."

We talk for a while longer, until the clock reads one in the morning and my eyelids are drooping.

"Good night, Mommy," I tell her as I leave the room. "Love you much."

"Love you more, Sweet Pea," she says, but her voice has to travel through her door to get to me and it feels so far away.

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