Food, Cats, and Being in Love

I don't want to think about it
I don't want to talk about it
When I kiss your lips
I want to sink down to the bottom
Of the sea

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38. Chapter Thirty-Eight

My mom didn’t seem all that surprised when I showed up on the doorstep first thing in the morning. I’d spent most of the night in the car because I didn’t want to bother my parents until I knew they were awake. So once the sun started coming up, I headed right over and let myself in. My mom came around the corner as soon as she heard the door open. And she crossed her arms over her chest as I set Reggie’s cage down on the floor.

“Looks like you finally grew some sense,” she said.

“I didn’t choose you. I’d never choose you. And I want you to know that I’m never going to forgive you for ruining the one good thing I had.” I lifted Reggie’s cage again and headed toward the stairs.

“If I ruined your life, then why are you here?”

“Because you shut off my power.”

“Why didn’t you just move in with your boyfriend?”

“Because we weren’t ready for that.” I reached the top of the stairs, and I knew she wasn’t going to follow after me.

“We’ll go pick up your stuff later in the week,” she said from behind me.

I ignored her and went right to my bedroom. It still had some of my stuff in it that I hadn’t bothered to take to my apartment. I’d left my bed because it was a twin sized and I wanted my new place to have something bigger. I was grateful I’d left the bed. Because after I let Reggie out of his cage and locked the door, I crashed onto my bed and didn’t get back out.

I slept for most of the day. I got up once when I heard Phillip get up to get ready for school. I changed back into my pajamas and crawled back into my bed to go back to sleep. I heard my phone ring in the early afternoon, but I shut it off and laid there. Even though I couldn’t get back to sleep, I couldn’t get out of bed either.

I stayed there for the rest of the day. Sometime in the late afternoon, I heard my mom coming up the stairs. I groaned and reached for my phone off the nightstand. I’d shut the sound off so no one could bother me. There were messages from Vincent, but I couldn’t bring myself to read them. Just the thought of him made my eyes fill up with tears and my chest contract. My mom knocked on the door.

“Hon, your dad is bringing dinner home. Is there anything you want?” she asked.

“I want you to leave me alone,” I retorted. I heard her sigh through the door.

“Are you going to be dramatic about this forever?” I lifted my phone and chucked it at the door. It hit hard and smacked onto the hardwood floor. Then I buried myself under my blankets again. I was pretty sure she knew what I’d just thrown. “So dramatic,” she said. Then she went back down the stairs. I wanted to scream.

Thankfully, she didn’t bother me again. But I didn’t get out of bed until the next morning. And only because I’d made the mistake of leaving Reggie’s cat box in the car. So I headed out to go get it, so he didn’t pee in my empty closet again. It was early in the morning, but late enough so that my dad and my brother were probably already gone. I figured my mom would be talking on the phone or doing some candle selling stuff. Instead, I heard the sound of my dad’s voice as I reached the stairs.

“What exactly do you want me to do about it?” he was asking.

“I don’t know,” my mom replied. “Talk to her. Try to reason with her. She didn’t get out of bed all day yesterday. She wouldn’t even eat. And you know how that girl loves to eat.”

“She’s heartbroken, Patrice.”

“And usually when she’s upset she eats an entire tub of ice cream. I’m usually concerned about her eating too much. Now she won’t eat at all. I don’t even think she’s had any water. She’s going to be dehydrated.”

“So what do you want me to do? You want me to force ice cream down her throat?”

“She’s your daughter. You could talk to her. She’s not like Paige. I’ve always been able to reason with Paige. Piper is more like you. Maybe she’ll listen to you.”

“Maybe she really loved him, Patrice. Did you think about that?” I could hear my mom scoff. I was standing at the top of the stairs listening to them argue in the kitchen. I didn’t want them to know I could hear them.

“Of course she doesn’t really love him. He’s the first boy to ever show her any attention.”

“You honestly think he’s the first boy to ever show her any attention? You really think that low of her?”

“I don’t think low of her. You know I think she’s beautiful.”

“Does she know you think she’s beautiful? Because I didn’t know you thought that. This is news to me. Maybe you should let her know.”

“Why are you being so mean?”

“Because my daughter was doing well for herself. She had her own apartment and a promising career. She came to visit, and she called regularly. She worked for all your little parties and wanted nothing in return. And the one goddamn thing she ever wanted for herself was some stupid idiot boy, and you had to go and snatch that away from her too. Along with her independence and all her motivation. Now that daughter is holed up in the bedroom she slept in as a little girl crying her eyes out and refusing to eat. I don’t think I’m being mean here. I think you’re the one being mean.”

“I’m trying to protect her. I’m protecting both of our daughters. How do you think Paige feels about this? This isn’t some idiot boy. This is Vincent we’re talking about. Piper should have known better.”

“She’s a kid, Patrice. Paige was a kid, and she made a mistake with an idiot boy. Who cares if her sister grew up to make mistakes with the same idiot boy? She’s young. She’s going to do stupid things. She’s going to fall in love with the wrong people and get her heart broken. It’s not your job to get involved.”

“I’m her mother. It is my job to get involved. I need to help her make the right choices.”

“She’s older than we were when we got together and we turned out just fine. Who cares if it’s Vincent? Who cares if he’s Paige’s high school sweetheart? He made Piper happy, and that’s all that matters.”

“And you think he really loves her and this isn’t some weird ploy for him to get Paige back?”

“I don’t think he gives a flying fuck about Paige.”

“Excuse me?”

“It was five years ago, Patrice. We haven’t heard a single goddamn thing about that boy for five years. Why would he show up now? Why would he come up with some elaborate ploy to seduce Piper just to get to Paige? You honestly think he’s that cunning? He’s just an idiot kid. He’s got a type. He likes blondes. We have that in common. Who cares? Let them be idiot kids and do what idiot kids do. If he breaks her heart, oh well, she’ll learn. She’ll grow. She’ll move on. But if you keep meddling in her life, she’s not going to move on. And she’s always going to hate you for taking that away from her.”

“I can’t believe we’re even having this conversation. You’re supposed to be my ally.”

“I am your ally. But you wanted my opinion, so you got it. Let kids be kids. Let it go, Patrice. Let Piper and Paige work it out. Let them fight over it. Let them hold grudges. They’re sisters. They’ll get over it. You stay out of it because you know goddamn well she meant it when she said she’d never forgive you.”

I heard my mom huff and then she left the kitchen. I caught a glimpse of her as she stormed off into the hallway to hide in her bedroom. She didn’t see me sitting at the top of the stairs. But my dad did. He came around the corner to leave through the garage door, and he just happened to glance up. Our eyes met, and there was another pause. I saw him trying to work out what to say, and it was obvious he had no idea how to talk to his daughter. And I had no idea how to talk to him either. So maybe my mom was right in saying I was more like him. He gave me a quick nod of understanding, making it clear that he knew I’d heard him defend me. But then he left without a word.

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