Geneva – 4

(Continued from Geneva – 3)

It was strange walking down the hillside of the concert amphitheater alone. He hadn’t done things like this by himself for a long time and had to resist the urge to keep looking to his left to see if she was following. Suddenly, the idea of sitting here by himself for the next eight hours-no matter who was on stage-felt a little oppressive.

About a third of the way down the bowl he saw an empty spot in front of two folks about his own age sitting in beach chairs.

“Would I be cramping your style if I spread out here?”

“Knock yourself out. As you can see, we have no style to speak of. How many are you?”

As he lay the quilt out, “I’m a group of one today.”

“Ah, a true fan…” said the fellow, turning back to his partner.

He sat and gently turned his back to them. He didn’t want to appear rude since it was going to be a long day but he didn’t want to be the solo guy who automatically feels a right to nose into every conversation around him.

He barely had time to notice the empty blanket in front of him before a woman (he would have called her a girl since she was around his daughter’s age) clomped across it and sat hard, paying him no mind at all. She was a not-quite-pretty but definitely interesting strawberry blonde with frizzed out hair tied on top in a bun that looked like a wind-ruined bird’s nest. She was wearing a tie-dyed T-shirt and cut-off jeans. Very high cut offs.

Then two other girls, dressed pretty much the same came and flopped onto the blanket. One small and round wearing a trucker hat and the other could have been a boy-tiny, slim with dark hair peeking out from below her hat. She was distinguished more than anything by her sour face that squinted even away from the sun. “Where is she?” he heard one of them say. “She was in the beer line”, said strawberry blonde.

They kept glancing eagerly behind him until their faces-even the crabby little one-lit up. He thought she would come from the right where a clear grass aisle had formed itself so he cocked his head that way anticipating with the rest of them. He felt someone step on his quilt to his left. He turned to see a tanned thigh at his shoulder and felt a light touch on the top of his head as she almost stumbled.

“Excuse me”, she said.

He allowed his eyes to slip up her thigh to the brightest pair of green eyes he’d ever seen outside of cartoons. It was a concert, so of course there was music in the background but he’d swear later that he heard harps. The smell of lilacs in the spring had to be his imagination, but he smelled them nonetheless.

“That’s fine”, he said as-steadied-she removed her hand from his head, slipped past and plopped on the blanket not three feet in front of him. Okay, he thought as he watched the green-eyed vision sway to the music, the seat could be worse.

 

(Continuing…)

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Geneva – 3

Continued from Geneva – 2

She rose on her hip to spoon her naked backside into him. Reacting to the touch, his awakening cock found the thick softness between her legs and his hands, the firm weight of her breasts.

“I’m on the pill”, she said, a disembodied voice in the dark.

His laugh was no more than a quick, verbal smile but she heard it-his head cupped in the hollow between her ear and shoulders.

“What?” she asked.

“Nothing”, was all he said not telling her that it had been so long since he’d made love to anyone but his wife that such concerns were new again.

She parted her legs slightly, pushing further backward grazing him lightly with her swollen opening. His hand left her taut nipple and slid slowly down across the ridges of her ribs then cupping her belly and further, to her mound where every exploration, every touch, rub and finally dip, drew a new sound.

His hand played down the front of her thigh, stroking lightly then lifting, pulling the supple roundness of her bottom into him. She reached between her legs and guided his now throbbing cock into her wet folds moaning loudly as he slipped into her. She bent her leg higher, he scuttled closer, until there was no space and they were as one. The slip became a thrust and then a song of slaps and moans as they caught the rhythm of their needs.

She pulled her top leg toward her chest opening wider as their motion became more frenzied. “I can’t…I’m going to come…” she breathed. “Relax”, he whispered. “Go with it…” He slipped his left hand down the inside of her leg busying his fingers massaging and stroking around his plunging cock. He lifted and thrust as the timbre of her moans changed then held her tightly as she shuddered in something that sounded like a whimper, then stiffened.

(Continuing….)

Geneva – 2

(Continued from Geneva – 1)

Farm Aid had been his wife’s idea. The all-day show took place out in Bumfuck at a venue he hated. It was a nightmare to get in and out of, impossible parking in rolling fields, idiot Hoofties running the show-no thanks! His only experience with the place had been 20 years ago taking his daughter and a bunch of her friends to an NSYNC or some such show. Never again, he swore that night sitting in two hours of traffic and he’d been good to his word.

He’d seen all the bands on the bill before, why subject themselves to it? But she was adamant. Bought the tickets months ago; bought merch ahead of time so she’d have the right T-shirt and hat. And even at her age, she could rock a T-Shirt and hat.

She had the date circled on the calendar and the tickets stuck to the refrigerator with a personal injury attorney’s magnet. But she had to have known when the show finally got here, she would be gone. She had to have. Or at least suspected. A clean break and disappearance to the other side of the country took some planning, right? And she was a planner.

Was the trip to Farm Aid part of her cover-proving to anyone who cared that she had made a quick, impetuous decision and not one born of months of careful consideration? Or was this something to do this weekend if her plans didn’t pan out or were delayed?

“Well, screw it”, he said aloud when the morning of the concert rolled around. He snatched the tickets off the fridge, grabbed a quilt from the bed in the spare room and headed for Bumfuck.

(Continuing…)

Geneva – 1

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He paused at the gapped door of the bedroom. She lay propped on pillows gazing at her phone in the yellow light of the bedside lamp. The soft pine-green cotton covered her but enough cleavage bloomed above the sheet to intimate that she was nude-at least up top.

“So, you’re opting for the open door? I warn you, the cats will be in here looking for breakfast at five-which really isn’t that far off.”

“Thought you could close it for me.”

“Has to be bolted from the inside”, he said.

“I know.”

Craning her neck slightly in his direction pulled the sheet slightly, exposing a bit more of her breasts. It was certainly warm enough to go without a covering so the sheet was for modesty’s sake, not comfort. Though they could be the same thing.

He stepped into the room to look down on her. She met his eyes.

“You don’t have to do this, you know.”

“I know”, she said wearing the same half-smile that she had most of the day. “I think that’s probably why I want to.”

 

(Continued…)

“You better hurry…”

280

(This is a repost from an old blog; indulgences if you’ve read it. It is still a work in process-as, my wife hopes, am I.)

The old truss-style bridge had been built around the turn of the last century with great fanfare as a permanent link to connect Millport and Riverton on opposite sides of the river. “Permanent” was emphasized at the time of construction because the first bridge that had been built a little ways downstream to connect what were not yet the two towns went up the year after the Civil War ended and, regrettably, down again into the river less than twenty years later.

The sidewalk on the bridge ramp glittered in the late morning sun. Most sidewalks in town glittered and dazzled in the sun-a feature of the glass flecks that were added to the concrete back in those days. “They paved our streets with diamonds!” he remembered his grandmother telling him once when they left Mass at old St. Francis one sunny Sunday eons ago.

The walk up the ramp on the Millport side was not a long one. It seemed that on this side-the low side-there was barely enough room for train cars to pass underneath. There was plenty of room actually, but it seemed so much lower on this side as every step across the span was uphill. The climb was gradual enough, and the span long enough, that it went almost unnoticed unless one was walking across the bridge as Jake was now. As the sweat began to bead at his temples and between his shoulder blades he knew that the walk across was also a walk up. Happily he wouldn’t be going the whole way over.

Jake knew-not “knew of” but knew personally-three who had jumped off of the Riverton Bridge. Their intentions in making their respective leaps could be judged by the end of the Bridge that they used as a launching point.

A leap from the Millport side was clearly less a suicide attempt than a cry for help or attention. Usually one hit the water on this side of the river, bobbed to the surface and swam to shore more often than not having to run away from the cops who were called. Eddie Figges had taken that leap in a moment of panic or weakness twenty years ago. He was now an insurance man over in the Riverton Hills section of town having done quite well for himself.

Jake couldn’t recall the name of the kid-was at his table in shop class-who had gone over the rail on the Riverton side. He didn’t bob to the surface. He didn’t see the light of day again until a grappling hook snagged his belt and pulled him up two days later a mile downstream.

Then there was “poor Sally” which is how his mother referred to her when it happened. Either she couldn’t swim and feared drowning (which is odd when you think of it) or she didn’t like the whole uncertainty of the river. So she shattered herself on State Route 437 which ran under the bridge on the Riverton side. He remembered people complaining that they had to shut down the road for a period of time making them late for work, ultimately costing them an hour’s wages in some cases and why was her problem theirs?

The burning sun, last night’s whiskey and beer, and the walk had the sweat pouring off Jake as he reached the middle of the river. There was a quick bleat of a horn from a passing truck and he turned to see if he recognized someone, or someone had seen him, but was blinded by the sun at his back. The beep-greeting probably wasn’t for him anyway. Most of the people he knew in town were either gone for the weekend or still in bed.

He leaned against the railing and looked down just as a speedboat popped out from under the bridge and continued to cut its way upstream. There-less than half a mile away-he could see the carnival rides of RiverFest beginning to crank slowly to life, awakening as the day’s first revelers made their way into the make-shift park. Every year the festival got bigger. What had once been a fireman’s fair in the ball field with barrel battles and softball games was now a full-blown water carnival complete with rides trucked in from somewhere in Ohio, speedboat races and what, from where he was, looked like a couple of Viking ships.

He looked down at the zig-zagging boats, jet skis, pontoons, two or three coal barges in sight up and down and wondered if he would reach the river in his final leap or come crashing down through the roof of some unsuspecting pensioner’s cuddy cabin.

Speedboats always reminded him of his mother and that summer years before when she had returned from wherever it was that she went periodically. Of course he knew now that she had another life out East, that she and the old man had effectively broken up before Jake started grade school but nobody talked about it then.

He did remember this one summer though-when she had come back and suddenly had a new circle of friends outside of the whole Riverton/Millport crowd.  He remembered being out in what he thought was a speedboat with these people pulling a skier. The guy was small and wiry and fast back there on the skis-slicing from side to side, jumping wakes,  exhilarating in each and every moment behind the boat-giving the impression that he had mastered something that nobody else had-that was beyond the scope of anyone else’s talents.

And Jake’s mother on the side bench opposite him, looking back and-in turn-exhilarating in every movement the little guy made. Her cigarette, with the blur of red lipstick around the filter, was in her left hand and a look of steely, determined contentment was fixed below her button nose and the huge cat’s eye sunglasses which were the rage back then. Her head ticked side-to-side as she watched the skier slice the water.

Her one-piece red suit was cut low and high; her impossibly tanned legs glistened in the sunshine and spray. She caught his eyes riveted on her thigh and smiled too-widely. “You having fun baby? You like this?” She slurred slightly and he never remembered if he’d answered her or not.  “Well, enjoy it while you can because you’ll never get anything like this around here. With him.”

He leaned against the rail and watched the first pair of eight coal barges slip below his feet. They were pushed by the “Mary Sullivan” a coal company tow boat that worked the up and down daily and was impossible to miss if you spent as much time around or on the river as Jake did.

He reached into his back pocket for some reason thinking there would be cigarettes there even if he hadn’t bought any for two days. He remembered bumming a few last night…Jesus-he couldn’t even think of bringing a cigarette with him? The closest store was the Speedy-Mart on the Riverton side. He’d keep walking, buy a pack and have a smoke before. Just like every guy in front of every firing squad in every old war movie he grew up on.

He knew from the moment that he started across the bridge that he wouldn’t be jumping. At least not today. Probably not. He used the bridge and the walk up and over as a release for himself-something of a coping mechanism though he’d never call it that. But when things got to be a bit much-when the ringing in his head became too loud to drink away and the voices from the past too shrill-he would stand at the railing of the Riverton Bridge and watch the river flow by, imagining the feeling of the wind fluttering his cheeks on the way down. It wasn’t a self-dare as much as a reminder that if he thought that he really, really didn’t want to deal with it all anymore-he could opt out right here. He found a perverse peace in that.

All-in-all his river dreaming was a far healthier option for contemplating his own end than his pistol had been. There was the one night with a bottle of bourbon inside of him that Jake had taken the idea of playing Russian Roulette with himself to heart and had managed-he still couldn’t figure how-to blast his dresser mirror to pieces with his .308. The shattering report brought the old man wheeling out of his room into the hallway with his AK fully locked and loaded thinking they were finally under attack.

He thought of the impact too-what it might feel like to hit the water from that height. If his aim was truly to put an end to himself he would lay flat and allow the whole of his body absorb the blow. It would break him as surely as flopping onto the asphalt of Route 437. Having jumped from enough barges, piers and abutments in his day he knew that entering the river standing with his toes pointed offered his best chance for survival-providing the water was deep enough and he didn’t stick himself into the muddy bottom like a tent peg.

The “Mary Sullivan” passed below and Jake was pushing off the rail when what looked to be a twenty foot open bow flashed below. It was bright yellow carrying too many people as the pilot turned it into the Sullivan’s wake. He, of course, was looking for the slam-slam-slam of his bow crossing the towboat’s waves but Jake knew that the boat’s speed-even as loaded as it was-would make for a rough landing. “Too fast…” Jake thought.

The boat hit the crest of the first wave and slammed hard into the trough behind. Everyone in the boat popped up in the air to come crashing down into their seats. Except for the little girl in the back. The impact threw her higher and being in the back, the boat slid slickly out from under her. She hit the river in the wake as everyone in the boat, eyes forward, flew toward the next wave.

“Hey!” Jake yelled to nobody really because he knew that anyone on the boat would have trouble hearing him if he was sitting beside them. But he yelled again-“HEY!-THE GIRL!” and waved his arms. Behind him a car beeped in reply. The child wore a florescent pink swimming suit and no life jacket. As the waves began to flatten she turned over onto her back and with one tiny arm either reaching up or waving goodbye slipped easily under the surface trailing a cape of jet-black hair as Jake watched.

“You better hurry”, a voice behind him said. Jake turned quickly and was again blinded by the sun. He thought he saw someone standing there-a wild corona of hair seemingly surrounding the sun’s searing light-but couldn’t be sure. He looked away blinking and back down into the water. The child was still visible-a tiny pink smudge-getting smaller under the surface. “You better hurry.”

“Fuck me”, said Jake putting both hands on the top of the railing. In one smooth and surprisingly athletic vault he was airborne, carefully pointing his toes toward the river and keeping his eyes on the pink spot.

 

© TDR – 2017

Chloe – The Finale

Continued from Chloe – Part 3

Chloe was sitting on the edge of her bed facing the door seemingly rubbing at her thigh. With the damn creaky floors, Chloe knew she was right outside the door, but wouldn’t look up. Just sat there fiddling with her leg. The shower brush was on the bed beside her.

Karen approached and looked down at her daughter’s leg. She was making what looked to be little tic tac toe scratches on her thigh with her fingernail. “Stop that”, Karen said, tenderly cupping her head in her hand. Then, sitting beside her, she wet her finger and wiped the dry, white marks away with her hand. Self-conscious, Chloe wiped at them too and pulled the skirt lower.

Karen felt the spine melting out of her. “What am I going to do with you?”

“I think we both know that”, Chloe mumbled through a mouthful of cotton without looking up.

“Look, Chloe. I…”

Chloe’s heart was racing and her eyes were burning. She could not bear to hear another lecture, another session of having her own words thrown back at her and having to listen to what a shit she was. She knew that. I’m sorry Mom, was all she was thinking but she couldn’t make herself say that. Not right now. Not that it wasn’t true, but if she said that now-just apologized-Karen would believe her. She would forgive her and not do what she came upstairs to do. What she needed her to do.

Chloe twisted on the bed and laid herself quickly over her mother’s lap. Once there she reached back and pulled her skirt up as best she could, exposing her panty-clad rear. She was wearing skimpy blue panties that Karen had never seen and she chose to ignore the fact that her daughter was matching her underwear to her skirt. She had an idea of where this evening had been headed.

“Be my Mom alright? You can be my friend later. Now you need to be my mom!”

Jarred, Karen swallowed her surprise and still-borne response, remembering what Deena had told her. Christ, had she had been so blind to what her daughter needed from her? It had always been about what she wanted, what she needed from her daughter. How had she missed the signals being sent her way?

“Alrighty then”, said Karen, tightening her grip around her daughter’s waist shrugging off the feeling that she was a player in someone else’s drama. When she brought the first swat down heavily on Chloe’s right cheek they both said “OW!” Karen silently with an-O-open mouth and Chole not so quietly. It had been awhile, but Karen knew the feel of wood on bottom-something her daughter was about to learn.

At the moment, Chole’s thoughts were more along the line of “be careful what you wish for” but by the third smack of the brush had degenerated into a mishmash of “OW-Ouch! She’s really beating my ass! Jesus! Jesus! This hurts-HURTS! Ow! OW!” She managed to bite her lip and not yell too much but couldn’t stop the wriggling.

Suddenly remembering her own sessions over Chef Tony’s lap Karen switched the paddle to her left hand and quickly grabbed her daughter’s panties and yanked them down. Something obviously unanticipated.

“NO MOM!” Chloe yelled and reached back. Too late to grab her underwear, she instead covered her bared bottom with her hand palm up. “Not on the bare, Mom! Please!”

“Take your hand away or I will swat it.” She swatted her moderately on the back of the leg.

“Ouch! OK….”

Chloe, having begun to cry despite herself, pulled a pillow down and buried her face in it. A thin sheath of cotton would not seem to offer much protection from a stout bath brush, but the first contact of wood on bare skin was electric. “Jesus! She’s spanking my bare ass!! My BARE ASS” echoed through Chloe’s brain as she yelped into the pillow. Karen delivered smack after smack to her reddening bottom. She kicked and swam not able to avoid the blows but neither could she register that every swat was a tad lighter than the one before.

Karen, even now determined to be more attentive to her daughter’s needs, watched her reactions and listened carefully to her cries. When Chloe stopped wriggling and instead pushed her legs straight back tightening her bum into two hard apples Karen decided the punishment was over. She dropped the brush back onto the bed as the girl relaxed, continuing to cry softly.

Karen grabbed the panties that were bunched at Chole’s knees and pulled them gently up, covering her bottom. She primly dropped the skirt back in place, only then patting Chloe’s aching back side.

“That should about do it”, she said. “Come on, get up”.

Chloe pushed herself up and sat on the bed where she had before eyes focused on the carpet.  Karen got up and snapped tissues from a box on the bedside table. “Here”, she said putting them in front of Chloe’s face. “Let’s see if we can get along for a while”, she said stroking the top of her head.

Chloe didn’t look up but seemed to nod.

“You’re done for the night,” Karen told her heading for the door.  Get ready for bed. No computer, no phone….”

“OK….” Came the tissue-muffled answer.

Downstairs Karen poured a thick glass of tooth achingly cold vodka over ice and headed for the front porch. The cool of the evening sliced hard into the heat running through her and she almost shivered. Tossing a few cushions aside she settled onto the wicker glider and finally, finally sighed deeply emptying her lungs then refilling-once, twice…sip. Repeat. She had thought about calling Deena but didn’t; wanting this time for herself and Chloe in case…

She heard the door opening behind her.

“Mom?”

“Yeah, honey?”

“Can I come out?”

“Sure.” Karen tossed the cushions beside her onto the floor. Chloe had changed into pajama bottoms and a long-sleeved Carroll High cheerleader T-shirt. She flopped down beside her mother and let her head loll onto her shoulder.

Karen took her offered hand. “How are you doing?” she asked.

“My butt is SO sore…”

“I hope you’re not looking for an apology.”

“Nope.”

They sat just so for a few moments, Karen breathing the soft scent of Chloe’s hair.

“I know I still don’t have car privileges so you think you can take me to school in the morning?”

“Isn’t what’s his face picking you up?”

“Ah…I don’t think that would be right. I’m breaking up with him tomorrow.”

“Really?” Karen asked, happily surprised. “Why?”

She felt Chloe shrug and knew there would be no other explanation forthcoming right now. And she was fine with that. As they sat in silence, slowly rocking back and forth, Karen felt her eyes burning but was unwilling to let go of her daughter’s hand to rub them.

She let the tear slide softly down her cheek.

Chloe – Part 3

(Continued from Chloe – Part 2)

Chloe was so relieved to be in the car and out of the Che’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?”

“Please!”

“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.

“Yeah. Right.”

“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…

“Why not?”

“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. “

“Mom!”

“First, go into the bathroom and get the shower brush out of the tub.”

“NO!”

“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.

“Really girl?”

“Apparently so.”

“But, wow. Your idea?”

“Who else?”

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.

To be continued…upstairs