‘OK, that’s enough, now,’ Mum said.
I was sobbing. My heart felt heavy, too big, like it was pushing against my ribs.
‘Dry the tears. Not going to help anything to spend the day hiding and crying.’
Using a tissue I wiped the wetness from my cheeks. I sniffed. Looked at Mum. ‘Thanks, Mum. For being here.’
I had crawled into Mum’s bed at midnight, as soon as I came home. She’d been sleeping, but woke when she felt my cold body snuggling into her warm one, and heard my cries. Mum had rolled over to face me, and I told her that Ryan dumped me, just then as he’d dropped me home. Moments after I’d let him…you know…be the one.
Now, the sun shone through the windows. Mum already up and dressed.
‘Don’t suppose I can sway you into eating something?’ she asked, in reference to my vow last night to go on a hunger strike. Her voice was soft and sad. The tears welled again in my eyes.
‘I’m not really going to give up food because of him, Mum.’
‘Atta girl. Don’t give him that much power.’ The sadness in her tone gave way to excitement, like she’d been electrically charged, and she bustled around in her room. I could tell she wanted to make the bed, but fell short of whipping me out of it with her pyjamas. She stood with her hands on her hips and used her forceful Mum-stare to hold my gaze. I felt the familiar squirm in my gut. She’d used this a lot when I was a child.
Mum continued, ‘My generation’s fight for equality and what we’ve achieved loses all credibility when mealy mouthed teenagers gush over a boy and act as though they’re the bees knees.’
God, it was hard being the daughter of a 1970’s feminist superstar.
‘Yeah, I guess.’ I crawled out of her bed, still in my clothes from last night.
‘Get into the shower. I’ll have something ready for you to eat when you’re done.’
In the bathroom, I stood under the shower, hoping the water’s spray would wash away last night. With my eyes shut, I relayed every moment: Ryan’s tenderness, his patience, his insistence that he could wait till I was ready. All a ruse. I bet it was all around school by now.
Dressed in my teal-green track-suit, I joined Mum in the kitchen. She’d made pancakes: the table filled with jams, lemon wedges and the sugar bowl, honey, and chopped fruit.
‘Eat up. Be thankful you’re living now instead of when I was your age. No way I could’ve told your Gran, or even slipped into her bed like you did last night.’
I lathered a pancake with strawberry jam, added a dollop of cream. ‘I know.’
‘When’s your period due?’
‘What?’ My mouth full, I stared in shock. Hadn’t even thought of that. ‘Um, a week or so, I think.’
‘Keep your eye out for it. And let me know. Either way.’
Oh, shit. ‘OK. Yeah, I will.’
‘It’s going to be alright. I promise. You’re not the first girl to give yourself to a charlatan and you won’t be the last. Put it behind you.’
I nodded. Chewed slowly. ‘You’re not disappointed in me?’ I couldn’t look at her.
‘Christ no! You’re a young woman. What you do with your body is your business, not mine.’ Mum lifted my chin, so I was forced to meet her gaze; she smiled. ‘I’ll help you in any way I can. But I’m not disappointed in you.’
‘OK, thanks Mum.’
‘Finish your brekkie. I’ve got to do the grocery shopping before the shops close. You want to come or stay home?’
‘Might stay here. I’ll watch this movie I rented from Blockbuster. It’s called About Last Night.’