“Are you coming this afternoon?” I ask.
Mom spins around, sloshing coffee on her I mean business suit. “Oh, no, of all days. I don’t have time to change.” She rushes to the sink and rips off half a roll of paper towels to wet them. “What’s this afternoon?” She glances up for a second in between dabbing at the dark stain on her blouse.
I stop fingering the place in my paddock boot where the stitching is coming undone and let my foot drop to the floor. “The show.” I hold back the irritation in my voice, but I can hear the edges of it. I’ve learned that never helps my cause with Mom.
She slams the wad of wet towels in the trash. “I can’t, Cory.”
Our eyes meet.
Hers cut away first. “I’m scheduled to sit an open house all afternoon today,” she says.
“But you said—”
She flicks at the wet spot with the back of her manicured nails in two fierce strokes. “Don’t start.” Her eyes bore into mine, and this time it’s my turn to look away. Outside, beyond the pool, Hershey sprawls in the shade. His pink tongue stands out against the dark chocolate color of his body. Mom’s complaints about how hard she has it float around the edge of my consciousness, and I feel myself becoming the “difficult teen” she always accuses me of being. You see, I don’t really have to listen. I’ve heard it all before.
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