[Creative property of Lady Quindecim]
Page Fifty Five: Sorry, Fox
Day 12 - Saturday
As most of the food was gone from the buffet, Fox and I had begun cleaning everything up and condensing what food remained to just a couple of serving platters and bowls. We were joking and laughing and having a good time and frankly it was way more comfortable to be out of the frey of the party and the crowd. Mags was popping into the kitchen every now and again to make sure we were okay, had everything we needed, and to just catch a break. More than once, she dragged James back as well to steal a kiss or three, but for the most part, it was again, just the two of us in the kitchen yet so different from the afternoon.
Brad had asked Fox, “Who are you and what have you done to our Fox?” with regard to her good spirits.
In turn, Brian asked who I was and wanted to know what I had done with their drummer.
And as far as that time-flies-when saying, before I knew it, it was ten o'clock and Mags was poking her head in to let me know my mother was there to collect me. Mags had answered the door and invited her in, letting Mom know that she would fetch me.
I stepped out into the living room, “Oh, hey, we are almost done cleaning up in the kitchen. If you don’t mind, I’ll be just a moment more.”
She stood there, my mother, staring blankly at me, eventually asking, “If I don’t mind what?”
“Mom, it is just going to take me a few more minutes with the dishes. I'm almost ready to-”
Then it hit her - I could see it in the shock in her eyes - I was her daughter. “Nichole? What the hhh... Look at you! What have you done?”
“Mom, it’s no big deal, just a haircut.”
“Yeah, and a colour. Can we talk about this later?”
“Oh, we are SO going to talk about this later. It seems that you forgot your most significant alteration - or at least I hope it is.”
I put my hand up to my brow, “Oh, that.”
“It’s just for tonight, that eighties thing. It is just costume.” I was trying to sound calm, like there was nothing to be worked up over, but on the inside, my heart had sunk way, way down low. I did not want to disrespect her, but it was really embarrassing getting yelled at in front of everyone. Most of all, however, I felt foolish. I should have stopped with just replacing my earrings.
Mom reached out and flicked the safety pin in my nose. “Just costume? Oh, I don’t think so. What were you thinking?”
“Obviously.” Then she turned to Mags, “And she looks up to you. How could you let her do this?’
Reflex of innocence, Mags put a hand to her chest, eyes wide in surprise.
“Oh, now I suppose you are going to stand up for her and tell me I am over reacting.”
Mags opened her mouth to respond but I did not give her the chance. “Mom! Leave her out of this! She - nobody had anything to do with this but me. I did this. You are more than welcome to yell at me about this and everything, but not them.”
“Just go get in the car, young lady.”
I turned towards the kitchen to see if Fox was there, relieved I could not see her, or she me, then I turned to Mags who nodded and shooed me on. I dashed out with no further hesitation.
I was freezing, leaning on the car door with my face hidden in my hands when I heard the heavy mechanical release of the lock. Quickly, I stood, pulled open the car door and slid into the warmth inside, shutting the cold out firmly behind me. Mom got in and started the engine. “Not a word until we get home.”
I just nodded. What else could I do? It was not far, nor was Mom driving slowly, but it was a very long car ride. When we did get home, Mom told me to put on the kettle for tea. Oh, great, I thought, she wants to talk and a few minutes later - three to boil and three more to steep - we were sitting at the kitchen table, drinks in hand.
“Sweetie,” Mom started, “I am sorry for embarrassing you in front of your friends.”
I rolled my eyes, “The very, very few friends I have, yeah, they were all there, but it is my fault. I made the fool of myself, long before you got there.”
“Okay, I will give you that.” She took a scalding sip of tea. “Only, I made a fool of myself too.”
“You lost me there, Mom.”
She shook her head, “This little guy in blue, well, three of them. I guess you were planning originally on teaming up with them on the costumes. He said that things... well, that you were having a hard time and that you told them you felt stupid for going over the top with the safety pins. I figure, if I said nothing at all to you, this would have all gone away anyway. I felt so... well you know that is not the kind of mother I want to be, going off on my kids in front of their friends, whether they need it or not. And you have such a hard time making friends as it is.”
I shrugged, “When all is said and done, I... I am glad you do the parent thing and get onto us. When I screw up - and yeah, I know I screw up - I don’t want anyone thinking that my parents - that my mom - doesn't care enough to set me straight.”
“Okay, so I am off the hook?”
“Of course. I don’t know. Maybe.”
“It really doesn't look bad, you know?”
“I’d have done it, had you asked.”
“It was an in-the-moment thing. Had I planned on it, yeah, I’d have asked.”
She leaned across the table, gesturing for me to do the same, “I want to look at those piercings.”
“I cleaned everything with alcohol really well before poking myself.”
“They look fine. Do you want your brow pierced? Or your nose?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know. Not my nose, anyway. Feels like crusty boogers.”
“Do you want to leave the brow ones in until you decide? You can always take them out.”
I cocked my head a little, looking at her, thinking about what all she was saying. “So, what was it, really, that set you off?”
I took a sip of tea. “I mean, I know what I think I did that was stupid, but... Was it that all this happened outside of your control? You have always been trying to protect me, mostly from myself and stupid things I do or say that put me in jeopardy.”
“Because I worry about you? Yes, that does concern me a great deal.”
“And you were scared that this was turning into one of those times, right? And we just moved here.”
Mom set down her cup. “I was frightened, yes.”
“You did not recognise me at first.”
“Well, no, I-”
“Did you think to yourself, ‘who is this lesbian talking to me?’”
She looked a little indignant. “Of course not.”
“Then why would anyone else. This,” and I gestured up and down myself, indicating all of me, “does not make me look gay.”
She shook her head, “But it does make you look like you live a more... alternative lifestyle, which in turn makes you stand out. And in a small town like this, someone like you does not want to stand out like that. But,” she added quickly, “now that the shock has worn off, and yeah, the safety pins are just for tonight, you really do look good.”
“This place is not that small,” I contradicted out of stubbornness.
Mom pointed to her head, “It is small up here. All the big city stuff is new - all within the last ten... fifteen years at most. The underlying current is still small town.”
“Mom,” I said, more calmly than I felt. I did not want to fight. “One day, years from now, you are going to be in a store, checking out at the register, and the cashier is going to know you, maybe not by name, but by sight, and they are going to know me, and they are going to know that I am a lesbian.”
“I would hope, even years from now, that your private business is still private.”
“But I will have been in that store, shopping with a girl, maybe we will be holding hands. Or maybe someone will see us kiss somewhere out there in the world.”
Mom nodded, “Okay, yeah, I suppose at some point... Okay.”
“And you are going to have to deal with it. You are going to have to be able to say, ‘yes, my daughter is gay and if you have a problem with it, it is between you and her, not with me.’”
“No, Chole - DG - I will never be able to say that. Maybe there will come a day - 5, 10, 50 years from now - when I will have to deal with it and I won’t have to like it, but if someone - anyone - has a problem with it, with you, then you can be absolutely sure,” there was a tremor in her voice and tears in her eyes, “that they will definitely have a problem with me too. That’s what parenthood is, and that is something I fear you will never experience. And I’d have thought your dad showed you that.”
I. Am. Such. A. Jerk. I started bawling right there at the table, head down, sobbing, almost spilling my tea.
* * *
I woke up sitting at the kitchen table, head on the table, to find the lights dimmed and a blanket draped over me. I felt horrid for the daughter I was to both my parents. I folded the blanket and put it back on the couch and dragged myself up the stairs to my room, unsure what time of night or morning it was.
I knew I was tired, groggy with sleep and not fully awake, because I saw, sleeping, curled up on my bed, was Fox. Striped socks, faded jeans and her hoody. I also thought I saw my bag of clothes, the one I left up in James’ room before being ushered out of the party, on my desk and my coat draped over my chair. Whatever time it was, I knew I needed to get in bed fast before I fell over or something.
I pulled out all ten safety pins from my face and ears and changed into my pyjamas. I stumbled to the bathroom to wash my face and brush my teeth, then stumbled back to my room and turned out the lamp on my nightstand that I was too tired to have remembered turning on. I knew she was not really there, but her warmth and scent was so real, I just curled around the hallucination’s back and buried my face into the imagination held within my arms.
[You have been reading the fifty-fifth instalment of the Fox Tale Series by Lady Quindecim.]
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[I hope you have enjoyed this instalment]