(Continued from Chloe – Part 2)
Chloe was so relieved to be in the car and out of the Chef’s office that she forgot to immediately sulk and Karen almost relaxed too. Almost. And only for a moment before the anger took back over.
“Did you pick Umberto’s because I used to work here?”
Chloe shrugged and looked out of the passenger window, closing up and pointedly ignoring her mother’s glances.
“Did you figure if you got caught at least you might not get busted? Again. Have you been in there before?” Again, just a shrug.
That growth spurt did complicate things Chloe was about as tall as she was, with coltish legs and quickly developing breasts. Karen would have been thrilled to put the kid stuff behind them and get on with the sisterly mother daughter time that Chef Tony talked about. But then there were things like this. When adulting ground to a halt and she would prove herself a willful seventeen-year-old not ready for the adult role that Karen wanted her to assume.
“You were grounded for three weeks, still don’t have car privileges back and the day after you’re allowed out of the house you are busted trying to…”
A blaring car horn jolted Karen back to the task at hand and she yanked the wheel back from where she had drifted.
“Jesus Mom! Would you watch what you’re doing? Christ!”
Almost unwilled, Karen’s hand lashed out and grabbed Chloe’s ear along with a thick lock of her blonde hair. “Bring it down a notch”, she growled. Chloe’s eyes widened with surprised fear as her mother twisted and yanked slowly, laying her hands on her daughter for the first time in anger in years.
“Alright! I’m sorry”, Chloe shrilled.
Karen released her ear as quickly as she’d grabbed it and the girl pulled away plastering herself against the passenger window and rubbing the side of her head. “I’m sorry”, she clipped at her. “You just push and push. Why?”
“I don’t know. I’m just stubborn that way.”
“How much of it is him?”
Chloe sniffed at that.
“Are you in love with him?”
“Really, what is it with him? I mean, he’s not what you’d call bright. Why are you even with him?”
Just like that, Chloe glanced her way and gave her a seemingly surreptitious look. A “how much should I tell her?” look that Karen recognized immediately. There it was! That quick look-that wink without a wink-a sister to sister acknowledgement of a carnal truth that would be hell to tell your mother.
Karen smiled inwardly if a little ruefully. She was her daughter, that couldn’t be denied. She stopped at a light. They weren’t far from home Karen cleared her throat to announce what she’d been thinking about since Chef Tony’s office.
“You know what’s going to happen when we get home, don’t you?”
“No idea” she answered.
“I’m going to spank you.”
“Yeah, right!” she sniffed.
“Mom. You’re not.”
“No, I was thinking…you remember the last time I spanked you? When you pushed me to the edge and I didn’t know what else to do?”
“No”, she answered too quickly.
“Of course, you do. What were you twelve? You had stolen that boy’s paper when you didn’t do the assignment and lied about it? Said it was yours because you copied it into your own writing?”
“Thirteen”, she said out the window.
“Yeah…seventh grade. They were going to fail you for the class but I told them I would handle it at home. I almost had to tell them-I had to make it clear to them-what I was going to do and they were fine with it.”
“It was humiliating.”
“No doubt. For me too. But after that-you were fine. You were on the honor roll the last two quarters-we got along for the rest of that year it seemed.”
“THAT wasn’t why.”
“Probably not. But it’s impossible to ignore the personality transplant that my hand on your butt brought about.”
“But you can’t spank me…
“I’m an adult…almost…”
“Almost. This is nothing I want to do, believe me. Sometimes I wish you would grow up and move out just like you say you want to almost every day. But you can’t. You’re too young. And sometimes I wish you were younger so you wouldn’t test me all the goddam time. I’m still responsible for you. And I have to do something to get through to you.”
“But you know I don’t mean half of what I say…”
“How would I know that?”
“You know I’m sorry when I really fuck up!”
“How do I know that? And watch your language. Do you ever say it? Don’t break your brain trying to remember. You never do!”
“I AM! I’m sorry.”
“For what?” Karen asked calmly as she pulled into the driveway. “For what, exactly?”
“For today-for trying to walk on that bill. It was stupid. I’m sorry.”
“Is that it? You’re just sorry for today?”
“For all of it then!”
“All of which?”
“I don’t know…for being a bitch, I guess. I’m sorry!”
“Ok, so I’m hearing that message, yes. But I’m not exactly getting it.”
“You are NOT going to spank me”, she said as firmly as she could though her eyes were tearing and her voice quavering.
“No way out of it now, I’m afraid. You’ve pushed me too far too many times and I have to figure out a way to stop it. I can’t fight you all the time.”
Chloe pushed her door open and slammed it behind her stalking to the house. Karen watched her go gripping the steering wheel to keep her hands from shaking. “One-one thousand, Two-one thousand, Three-one thousand….” She counted until Chloe reached the locked door and realized she’d left her purse-with her keys-in the car. She could do nothing but stand on the porch and fume until Karen got there. When her mother approached the door, Chloe kicked it. Hard. Then again.
“Chloe”, Karen said as calmly as possible. “That’s a kickplate. Get it? A brass kickplate on an oak door. The only thing you are going to hurt is your foot.”
When Karen opened the door, Chloe bolted past her mother quicker than a cat might trying to get out. She headed for the stairs.
“Go upstairs and wait for me in your room. “
“First, go into the bathroom and get the shower brush out of the tub.”
“Go upstairs, get the brush and wait for me in your room.”
“The last time you just used your hand!”
“You were a girl then. Not so much anymore.”
Chole combined a primal grunt, sigh and growl in a way Karen had never heard before stomping up the steps. “And leave the door open”, Karen called after her.
Karen waited and listened-definitely heard her in the bathroom. Heard her crossing to her room. Waited for the door slam which…never…came. “Huh”, she thought.
She wandered into the kitchen and opened the freezer grabbing the bottle of Grey Goose thinking to take the edge off but knew instinctively that would be a bad move. She pushed it back in among the ice, Moose Tracks and frozen chicken breasts. Her phone pinged and she pulled it out of her purse. There were three texts from Deena all variations on the theme: Are you OK? Everything OK?
Karen texted back. “Peachy. Just got home-about to go upstairs and spank Chloe.”
She hit send, watched the message sent, watched it delivered, watched it read. And waited. “One-one thousand, Two-one thousand…” She didn’t even get the three before the piano tinkling ring-tone sounded and Deena’s beautiful smiling face filled her screen. “Hello”, she answered.
“But, wow. Your idea?”
Deena paused for a moment. “You up for this?”
“I don’t know. But I do know we can’t keep going like this.”
“Just remember sweetheart. You’re dealing with a full-grown woman now…”
“She’s seventeen, acts twenty, then acts fourteen…”
“Age is not the point. Point is, she’s a woman. And you’re not going to do anything to her that she won’t let you do. You get that don’t you?” Karen didn’t answer immediately. Heard her, but wasn’t sure that she got her. “Where is she now?”
“Upstairs in her room waiting.”
“Go then. Go do what you both need.”
“I wish you were here right now”, Karen said quietly. “I could use you.”
“You always got me kiddo. You’ll do fine. Just be you.”
Just be me, thought Karen when they disconnected. That’s part of what got them into this mess. If it were up to her, she would sit on the porch with a glass of vodka and wait for it to all blow over. No, she couldn’t be her exactly. She had to use that anger…maybe channel a little of Deena. She smiled and tossed back her shoulders imitating Deena’s cocky military posture and the rolling swagger when she walked with a purpose. Karen strode across the room and up the stairs.