Oh, Jesus, thought Cassie. She reached through the curtain and turned the shower on. The hissing stream echoed off the tub, so she could logically pretend she hadn’t heard her mother calling.
“CASSIE!!”, came the call, louder this time.
“IN THE SHOWER!” she yelled back standing in front of the sink dressed in the clothes she’d slept in. A quick glimpse at the matted hair, puffy face and red eyes in the mirror made her look away. Not smart, she thought-now I have to take a shower. She peeled her jeans down noticing dirt on her hip-she must have fallen. Sure enough, there were faint scratches and a red bruise. “Shit…” she whispered running a finger over the marks trying hard to remember.
Then, she quickly, albeit a bit reluctantly, reached between her legs and felt around. Her bush was soft and dry; she reached further and felt around. Nope, nothing. With a relieved sigh, she found no evidence that anything untoward had happened down there. Where was her life headed if she had to inspect her snatch to see if she’d had any sex she didn’t remember?
She sighed and pushed her jeans all the way down. They went, along with underwear and t-shirt into the hamper. She stepped into the steam and let the water pound the back of her neck. “Fuck-fuck-fuck-fuck-fuck” was all she was interested in hearing from herself right now.
Her drinking was a problem-she knew that. Had been for a while and the last thing she needed was to give her mother another reason to remind her. She really was doing better-no drinking (much anyway) during the week and counting-actually paying attention to how much she was drinking; until, of course, she got too drunk to keep track. But the drinking and driving…”fuck-fuck-fuck-fuck!”
She dried quickly and opened the bathroom door a crack. Nothing. She was alone in the house. Cassie took a dry towel and tip-toed to her room. She had to figure out what had gone wrong or what Eileen had found out-or thought she’d found out-before facing her.
She dried quickly in her room and pulled on clean panties and a pair of jeans. With her body, a bra was optional equipment, so she opted out and pulled a black Creed T-shirt over her head. Hearing something outside she peeked through the blinds and saw her mother in her weekend gardening uniform of khaki shorts and a light-blue sun shirt. She was at that moment ignoring her dahlia garden, her butterfly bushes, all the Shasta daisies and poking around the front of Cassie’s car which was parked quite squarely in the middle of Eileen’s Hosta bed. She’d only missed the driveway by a car width. “Fuck-fuck-fuck-fuck…”
What would be better? She wondered. Go out and help? Survey the damage and apologize profusely? Just wait till Eileen came in? She didn’t know. Things had been so pissy between them the last couple of months after a pretty good stretch she didn’t want to make things worse. Too late for that, she thought rubbing her temple.
Outside, Eileen circled around the front of the old Subaru then dropped to all fours to look under. The soil in the bed had been mulched, manured and carefully tilled for years so it was soft enough that the front tires had sunken to the axles. The rear still sat out on the grass. She stood and tucked a loose strand of blonde hair behind her ear with a sigh. She stopped shaking her head; something she did for effect-like her studied eye roll-but there was no one to see it. What a mess.
She had to do something. This girl was going to kill herself or someone else. She looked through the open window and saw a red Solo cup in the holder on the console. “Don’t tell me…” she grumbled. She reached in. The cup wasn’t empty. One tentative sniff and her stomach lurched. Even when she drank, which she didn’t anymore save for the odd glass of Chardonnay when she joined Shannon at her club, tequila had never been her thing. “Christ!” she groused, unable to keep the words in her head, “Drinking and driving was one thing. Drinking WHILE driving?” That was her father all over. The bastard might be gone, but he’d never be gone. She had to do something. She couldn’t throw her out-that would make it worse. She tossed the Solo cup aside, disgusted and stepped onto the porch. Something. She thought.
Cassie was still stuck in her room trying to decide what to do when she heard the screen door clatter and her name, again, from the living room.
“Coming Mom…” she called back trying to sound calm and for whatever reason, young. Eileen was standing, hands on hips, in the middle of the living room, when Cassie dragged her feet in. She endured what felt like a miserable hour of silence until she had to speak up.
“I’m…I’m sorry about the Hosta’s Mom…”
“I don’t give a fuck about the Hosta’s you idiot!” Eileen shot back.
Cassie bit her lip and her heart took a flip. Her mother NEVER used ‘fuck’ and NEVER-NEVER called her names. This was bad.
“Where were you last night?” she demanded.
“The Mill…” Cassie said naming a bar on the outskirts of the other side of town.
“You drove home in that condition all the way from The Mill?!”
“I wasn’t that bad…”
“That’s over 10 miles! You drove the river road-all the way through town-then out to here? So drunk that you couldn’t even hit a lighted driveway?” Cassie said nothing. “Drunk and still drinking on the way?” Is that you now?”
Cassie didn’t want to answer but the question hung like a smell. “No-that’s not me. You know it’s not me. Something happened last night…”
“Something that happens EVERY WEEKEND Cass. Every weekend now. Which could be bad enough but now Thursday is a part of your weekend and Monday too.”
“I’m doing better.”
“Last night was better?” She waved toward the yard. “This is better?”
Cassie lifted her hands as if to say something, then let them drop. What was the use? It was no good arguing with her when she got like this. She didn’t care, she WAS doing better. Last night was a slip-she’d figure it out. The last thing she needed was a lecture from her mother. Eileen wasn’t particularly enjoying it either. She had thought this shit was behind her. They had been more like peers up till recently. Physically they could pass for sisters and they got along well enough until Cassie had lost her job and had to move back in. It had been a tough summer though and was getting worse.
Again the silence tightened around them, but this time Eileen was going to be the one to break it. She had decided what she was going to do but it wouldn’t be easy.
“You know what I’m going to do, Cassie?”
“No mom, I’m dying to know.” The switch from contrition to sarcasm was jarring and Cassie wished she could take it back. Eileen, on the other hand, accepted it as fuel.
“You’ll know soon enough. I’m getting my hairbrush.”