What the actual fuck. Lily threw herself down on her bed, mind reeling from the conversation she had just had with her mother. The conversation where her own mother proposed marriage- to her- in some lesbian fantasy. Lily couldn’t fathom what had gotten into her. The woman was usually so sensible, rational…clearly the stress had been getting to her. A ripple of concern tempered Lily’s outrage, causing her to sit up and take a few deep steadying breaths to calm herself down. If her mom was that far over the edge, Lily needed to think about how to help her. This was so out of character- so insane- her mom must not be in her right mind. Lily felt compassion for Cherie; she knew that her mother had been lonely, and empathized- really. Not to the extent that she wanted to volunteer to be the object of her mother’s sexual desire, but enough that she could sort of understand where she was coming from- sort of.
She had never yelled at her mom like that before. The look on her face as Lily turned away was…heartbreaking. She had always had such a close relationship with her mom, and really had done her best to support her through the divorce. Maybe she had done too much? Had Lily given her mom the wrong idea? She cringed at the thought of her mom walking in on her earlier in the day; knowing what her mom had been thinking- fantasizing about Lily being with her sexually- made that moment all the more inappropriate. To think that Lily was actually happy earlier about how little awkwardness there was during dinner! If she had only known what was to come for dessert.
Lily laid in bed that night with troubled thoughts, trying to make sense of a senseless situation. She heard her mom come up a while later, saying goodnight to Violet but giving Lily space. Lily barely slept, her mind racing far too quickly to allow for rest. She was torn between indignation at her mom’s audacity, and compassion for the woman who raised her. She desperately wished for a compromise but saw none in sight. By morning, the best strategy Lily had come up with was to continue as if none of it had ever happened. It was with that mindset that she started her day.
Cherie had already left for work and worked late that night. Lily took care of dinner and chores as usual, leaving something in the fridge for her mother to heat up when she came home. They existed like this for the next week or so, with Cherie working extra-long hours and driving Violet to various extracurriculars, effectively avoiding Lily. Lily was initially relieved by the space, happy that her mother was choosing to give her some time to process instead of pressing the issue. Her relief at some point began to morph into sadness and regret. Given everything that happened this was surprising to Lily, but the feeling couldn’t be denied- she missed her mom.
She was at a total loss for what to do. Every time she entered the kitchen, she saw her mom’s hurt as Lily yelled at her. Every time she was in her room, she remembered her mom walking in on her masturbating. Her mind was a mess, and she just needed it all to stop. The idea of a getaway came to her as she was doing homework with Violet one night. Violet was lamenting that if she just ran away, her history exam wouldn’t be taking up space in her mind. Lily empathized, but then got an idea: if her and her mom got away somewhere, maybe they could start over. Time had passed, and so maybe what they needed was some space to break the ice- then things would get back to normal. Lily searched the internet for a nearby destination and started to put a plan together.
Once she had booked the trip and put all of the information together, she e-mailed it to her mom. She sent a text to follow up, simply saying “Mom, I miss you- check your email.” She woke up to a note from her mom on her bedside table saying “I love you- pack your bags, I will pick you up from school at lunch.” Lily couldn’t ever remember a time when her and her mom had gone away just the two of them. She had worked it out so that Violet was at a friend’s for the weekend, so her mom didn’t have to be stressed about leaving her. Lily was good at considering the little details, and smoothing the way so that her mom didn’t worry. She packed for the cabin, making sure she had her skis and helmet before heading to school.
Lily found herself to be nervous all morning, realizing she hadn’t really seen her mom since their fight. She hoped that it wouldn’t be awkward in the car- she was determined that it wouldn’t be. This trip was just what they needed to get back on track and put the ugliness behind them. She was reminded of the love that she has for her mom in English class; she was working on a poem about her for the senior project, and reading her words about her mom- her hero- quieted her nerves.
She was waiting for her mom outside the school right at lunch, and after a quick stop at home to pick up their gear they were off to a cabin for a weekend of skiing. Lily knew it was one of her mom’s favourite hobbies, but they hadn’t been since the divorce. She could feel her mom’s excitement in the car, both women grateful enough to be together that they buried their previous complicated feelings.
They arrived to their private cabin a couple of hours later; two bedrooms, a fireplace, kitchen, and huge living area made them both giddy. By late afternoon they were out on the slopes, getting a few hours of skiing in before having dinner at the chalet. Their conversation was easy, reminiscing about ski trips when Lily was a kid, and congratulating each other on the perseverance of their skill in spite of their lack of practice. They went their separate ways to bed early, agreeing to get up with the sun to maximize their time on the slopes.
The next day was a dream; the weather was incredible, and Lily and Cherie were both in their element. They pushed each other to try more difficult runs, encouraging and laughing when one fell or needed a break. They took a couple of breaks in the chateau, sipping hot chocolate and reveling in each other’s company. They had a fancy dinner at the restaurant, each finishing with a well-earned piece of chocolate cake. They finally walked back to their cabin, both exhausted and fulfilled.
Cherie started the fire in the cabin while Lily made them some tea. Their walk had been chilly, and both women were eager to curl up by the fire and hang out. They each changed into pyjamas, Lily’s flannel pants and tank top almost exactly matching her mother’s. “Apples, and trees,” Cherie joked, and they both laughed. They were both privately happy that they had found each other again, though neither had yet verbalized it for fear of upsetting the other with memories of their fight. It was Lily who finally did.
“Mom, I’m really glad we did this,” she said as she handed her mom a cup of tea. She sat on the other end of the couch, stealing the end of her mom’s oversized blanket to cover up with. Cherie looked at her daughter thoughtfully, her eyes conveying a wealth of emotion. “Me too, sweetie, you have no idea,” she said warmly. “I’m sorry…for everything,” she finished. Lily was silent for a minute. “It’s okay Mom, I know that you were just trying to find a way forward for us. I have thought a lot about what you said, especially throughout this weekend. It has been wonderful to be with you, just us- with no work and no school and no chores. I think that I maybe villainized you a bit after that conversation, and forgot that you really just want what’s best for our family. I know that you weren’t trying to make me uncomfortable, and I’m sorry that I reacted the way that I did.”
Cherie nodded, relief palpable in the room as she absorbed her daughter’s words. “I really didn’t mean to hurt you, Lily, I just…I had thought about it a lot, and I thought it only fair to share it with you. I don’t like keeping things from you, especially when they affect our family.” Lily nodded thoughtfully. “I’m sorry I can’t give you what you need, Mom- but I can’t marry you. I don’t think it’s a good idea, and besides- I’m straight,” she said finally. “I know, baby, and it’s okay. We will find another way to be whole again.” Cherie’s eyes were distant, and she blinked a few times in an effort to hide her hurt and disappointment.
Lily hated seeing that on her mom’s face, especially after the day that they’d had. “If…if I did, you know, what you asked…what would it be like?” she asked. She hadn’t known that the question would come out when she began speaking, but she realized when she said it that she really did want the answer- how on earth had her mom pictured it working?!
Cherie was thoughtful, trying to gauge how much to say. “Well, honestly it would work a lot like it does now. I would continue to work, and you would continue taking care of the house. Of course you would finish high school, and could even go to college and join the workforce if you want to- or you could stay home- I make more than enough money to support us. You would have more authority with Violet- I really think that she needs two parents. She has a good head on her shoulders, but I think that as she gets older she will benefit from structure. I would look to you to parent her with me, in addition to being her sister. We would be equals, you and I- in all things. And…” Cherie faltered, not sure how much further to go. “…and we would support each other. I would confide in you, and you in me. Our relationship would be more intimate…mentally and…physically.”
Lily listened attentively, making an effort to see things from her mom’s perspective. When she actually listened instead of shouted, she could follow the logic. It really would be better for Violet to have more structure, and Lily appreciated that her mom didn’t want to just bring a stranger into the house. They had a really good thing going as a family, and really Cherie just wanted to protect and foster it. Lily genuinely wanted to be someone who her mom confided in, and wanted to support her. She was trying hard to do that now, but realized that there was something missing. As much as Lily could run the household, her mom was still lonely- she didn’t have the personal support of an equal- no one to share her hopes and fears with.
Lily moved closer to her mom, holding her hand. “I understand, mom,” she said with tears in her eyes, “I’m sorry I didn’t before. I was awful to you…you tried to open up to me, and I just shut you down. I am truly sorry,” Lily said. Cherie opened her arms, and Lily fell into her embrace. She cried silently, relieved by her mom’s implicit forgiveness. Cherie stroked her hair, holding and comforting her as she fought to control her emotions. Lily felt safe; she knew in that moment that there was nothing that her and her mom couldn’t overcome together. There was nothing that she could do or say to make her mom stop loving her, and she felt the same about her mom. They really were a team, and getting through this ordeal just proved the point.
Lily sat up, meeting her mom’s eyes. Her mom wiped her tears away, holding her face in her hands. “I love you Lily, and I always will, no matter what,” she said, and with that- Lily kissed her.
Looking back, Lily would guess that she was caught in the moment. Maybe it was the crackle of the fireplace, maybe it was the relief that her and her mom would be okay, or perhaps the exhaustion of a day spent on the slopes- either way, something had come over her and the kiss just seemed natural. Somehow, so did everything that happened after.
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