And they were. Perched above her button nose, beneath perfectly sculpted brows. Even though it had been awhile since I’d gotten wasted and asked to stay the night at her place so I didn’t have to walk all the way home and risk getting mugged, she gave me her signature sigh, the one that said, I don’t want you here, but I’m also kind of glad you’re here so I can hold it over you forever.
After I walked in, she gave me a one-handed hug and told me she picked up some new pamphlets about rehab. I avoided the conversation by telling her I wasn’t feeling the greatest and ran straight for her bathroom.
When I shut myself inside, I spotted her contact case sitting right there. On the edge of the sink, near four brightly colored toothbrushes. For her and her trophy husband and her two identical daughters.
Two daughters… Just like mom. But Emma was happy. Mom was not. Emma was alive. Mom was not.
To be fair, Emma’s memory might have been as screwy as mine. Maybe she didn’t remember that it was her fault. That she was such a bitchy little brat.
That’s why I wanted her to relive the moment. To remember what it felt like to cause the death of her own mother. To take away her children’s grandmother.
I needed her to see it. To experience it again. To become so upset with herself that she spent weeks in bed, turning down business lunches and PTA meetings and dinner dates.
And, of course, I needed to see her see it. That’s why I unscrewed the bubblegum pink lids of her contact case, dumped out her actual contacts, replaced them with the drugs, and spent the night on her couch.
I didn’t wake up until noon out of habit. I should’ve set an alarm, but I wasn’t the mastermind I wanted to think I was. God damn it. Emma started her days early, so I’d probably missed the entire drug trip.
Yup. When Emma walked in, her make-up was already done, complete with smoky eyes and red lips. Her hair was in a messy bun that looked more sexy than sloppy. And her glasses were off.
By the time she hit eighteen, she was pretty much blind. If her glasses were off, that meant her contacts were in. Fuck fuck fuck.
I looked at her, trying to see if anything was different. If she looked like she’d been crying. If she looked like a whole new person.
But she just looked like normal Emma, completely put together.
Her dyed hair and tanned skin and manicured nails pissed me the fuck off, which is why I ended up yelling, “Where’d you go the night mom died? You left. The whole night. Were you on a date?”
She looked offended when I mentioned the boy. Snapped back at me, saying she went to church. That she prayed to God for a rewind. That she was thinking about killing herself and confessed to a priest, but he talked her out of it by convincing her she needed to be there for her sister. For me.
And she still was there for me, she added, and handed me the rehab pamphlets.
I was going to take them. I really was.
But then I heard it. A squeaky voice saying, “Oh my god, mom. I’m old enough to do what I want. To fuck who I want.”
Emma’s eyes went wide. She ran for the sound and I followed.