Into the Unknown
Part IX: Arguments
Rather than go back to the Ravenhold dorm Charlie, Jenna and I got ourselves a cab to Charlie’s house to go spend the evening with our families. After getting the others onto a bus to Ravenhold of course.
We came into the house and saw Ian and Colleen at the bar, chatting lowly. With the sound of the door opening they turned around.
“Hey peanut!” My mom said, getting up and coming to me. She hugged me strongly, lifting me off the ground even.
“What’s got you all dressed up?”
“Charlie and I went dancing at a club.”
“Ooh like a real date then.” She nudged. “They grow up so fast, am I right?” She then asked Ian.
“They do.” He said with a smile before ruffling Charlie’s hair.
“What are you two doing still up?” Charlie asked.
“I don’t sleep.” My mom answered. “And Ian was nice enough to give me some late company. Although we might not stay up too long.” There was a suggestive tone to her voice.
I felt a little uncomfortable hearing that.
“I’m going to shower.” I mumbled before running upstairs before anyone could say anything and grabbing some of the clothes I’d left at Charlie’s last time I’d been there.
I locked myself in the upstairs bathroom and just sat in the shower, letting the water hit me. A few hours before I’d been happy, ecstatic even but now my brain was just buzzing with all the wrongest thoughts… I only came out when the water began turning cold. I dried myself the traditional way, as if buying time before having to come out. When I couldn’t delay it any longer I slipped on a pajama and slipped out of the room.
I’d barely taken a few steps in the corridor that the stairs groaned and my mom came upstairs.
“I think you and I need to have a private talk about Ian and I.” She said severely.
She nodded at Charlie’s room and I didn’t protest. We sat down on Charlie’s bed and there was a moment of uncomfortable silence between us. It only lasted a minute but felt infinitely longer.
“Caroline…” She began. “Are you opposed to me having a romantic partner?”
“What?” I answered, slightly alarmed. “No way. I’ve supported you before like with Bianca or before that Steven.”
“Yes, you’ve been mostly supportive, but there were times you weren’t… and I couldn’t help but notice that they all just happened to be when there was a chance it might have been more than just a one time thing…”
I didn’t answer.
“When I began seeing your art teacher, Mr. Bryant you suddenly started disliking him even though he was your favorite in school. You’d avoid speaking to him and be moody. I know that was over two years ago but I see you’re doing the same thing with Ian now…” She sighed and there was a pause. “Caroline, are you afraid that if I have a partner you’ll lose me?”
I couldn’t answer her, instead I just felt tight in my chest and glued my chin to my knees, looking down. My mom was one of the few people who supported me, I’d never had any friends to do that…
“Oh peanut…” She put her arms around me and dragged me into a very tight back hug. “Nobody’s ever going to replace you, you’ll always be my number one priority.” She dropped a kiss on my cheek and I felt tears come out.
“You must think I’m awful and selfish.”
“You’re still a kid, Caroline. And I know how vulnerable you feel, you try to be all strong and courageous but in the end you’re still a kid who needs support and I know how your coming out isolated you.”
She just held me for a moment until I felt a little better.
“Is you and Ian real?” I asked. I had to be supportive, just like she was of me.
“I like Ian. He’s nice, he’s funny and he is pretty cute.” My mom said before pausing. There was an awkward silence between us. “But…” She sighed. “I don’t think this is going to go far. We both have our lives and we’re hours apart. He has Ravenhold, I have the farm and my parents. And I know that neither of us is ready to give it all up.”
I wrapped my arms around her massive body, not even getting them halfway around her frame.
“I want you to be happy.” I muttered.
“I know that. And I want you to be happy to, I’d never settle with someone if it hurt you.”
“Is that what happened with Mr. Bryant?” I asked but she didn’t answer, looking away. “You shouldn’t have to sacrifice your happiness for me… I promise I’ll be supportive.”
She put a hand on my head and kissed my cheek.
“I love you peanut.”
“I love you too mom.”
She hugged me and we stayed one against the other for a moment.
“Well, I better leave you so you and Charlie can catch some sleep… Just remember; no hickeys.”
She burst our laughing and came out the door. She left the room and Charlie came up and into the room, Grump the big fluffy dog right on her heels.
“Hey, everything okay?” She asked. She’d changed into pajama bottoms and a worn out band shirt.
“Yeah, just some mother-daughter talk.”
She nodded and came to the bed, sitting down.
“Yeah?” She turned around.
“Why did you never tell me about Marian?” I asked, looking down.
“I just didn’t think about it.”
“You didn’t think it’d be important to tell me about your best friend?”
“We hadn’t talked in four months.”
“Because my stupid mental health got in the way, okay?” She said defensively. “What’s with the interrogation?”
“It feels like you kept her secret for me.”
“Are you jealous?” She asked, clearly flabbergasted.
“No!” I answered. “Should I be, was there something between you?” I asked, I knew I shouldn’t have asked but in the stress of the moment it had just come out.
“No, she was my best friend that’s it. Marian’s straight, she’s had like three boyfriends before.”
I looked away.
“What about Jenna?” Charlie asked, “I didn’t even know she existed before yesterday.”
“What about my sister?”
“It’s kind of hypocritical to be angry that I ‘hid’ someone from you when you did the same.”
“So, what you’re angry I didn’t mention her?”
“No!” She sighed. “Look, I’m just saying that it’s not fair to hold me to a different standard. Plus you never once asked about my friends, if you had I totally would’ve told you I wasn’t seeing any of them.”
“I think I’ll go sleep downstairs in the living room.” I muttered. I tried to take a step forward but Charlie barred the way.
“Caroline…” She sighed. “Don’t be silly, there’s plenty of space for two people. And if anyone has to go it’s going to be me.”
“Charlie, it’s your house.”
“My house my rules.” She put her hands on her hips. “Let’s just forget this stupid argument? Please…”
I didn’t argue with her, taking my side of the bed. Thankfully Grump settled down between the two of us, providing a furry barrier. I wrapped my arms around him and he gave me a few doggy kisses before laying down for an extended nap. Somehow despite a heavy heart, I managed to fall asleep…