“Miss Angellini, can I drive you home?”
I didn’t answer, my hand was already on the door handle—my hand decided yes before my mind had fully considered it. I sat beside him in the suddenly small cab of Dom’s red truck, nodding when he cracked the window open further and ground out his cigarette.
“Sorry, mate,” he laughed, “I didn’t expect company.” He shut the ashtray guiltily, “Nasty habit this…”
“I’ve seen worse,” I answered quietly, watching the tunnel of trees as we crept towards the house.
No lights were on and the darkness was falling fast, he said, “I guess Dom is visiting his friend tonight. What about Kenna?”
“She’s at the stables late. School starts and this is her last full day.” I sighed, “Plus, she’s kind of hating me right now, so you know.”
“She’s what? Sixteen?”
“I’d say hating Mom is just about right at sixteen wouldn’t you?”
The grass needed mowing down in the field—I suddenly wondered when the last time I’d remembered to do that was. It was knee high and going rust-colored with the fading sun and the August drought. The windowsills on the house were flaking in great curls of robin’s egg blue paint, the vegetable garden—I knew without looking, needed weeding and staking. The clothes from a day earlier still hung, forlorn and forgotten, on the line along the side of the shed. I was overcome with weariness—with an odd feeling of sorrow.
“I don’t know—I was a mother at sixteen,” Then, surprising us both, I blurted, “What are your plans right now?”
“Right now?” he raised his eyebrows. “I was going to get cleaned up and then read a while before bed—we’ve got some heavy work tomorrow. Why?”
I tried to shake the image of Sam in the outdoor shower—the rivers of soapy water puddling in the grass—his vulnerable candlelit body.
“How about you come to dinner?” I asked, “I already got the stuff to make a quick pasta—now Dom won’t be here to eat it with me and neither will Ken.” A giant sigh lodged in my throat, until he answered.
“Of course. Just let me hit the shower first—then I’ll come up to the house.”
Without reply, I jumped from the truck and darted onto the porch, feeling dangerous and threatened by my thrumming pulse in my ears—by my beehive bones. Still feeling the insistent buzzing these hours later, watching for my daughter to come home. A mother with secrets all her own.