Stampede 5

“Your mom is…” Jason started, staring after as my mom sashayed down the walkway towards the restroom.

“Don’t even,” i grumbled into my milkshake. I shoved the chocolate straw into my mouth and sucked up the slurp, working my cheek muscles as the thick ice cream slugged up the straw. I was hoping for a brain freeze. Anything to put me out of the misery of Jason Whitting calling my mom hot.

“…nice,” he finished, giving a smug smile in my direction when my eyes darted up to meet his. “Your mom is really nice,” he repeated. And I narrowed my too-big-for-my-face brown eyes at his own. He only smiled back. “I can definitely see where you get your looks.”

I only gawked at him, unsure of how he meant this statement. Was he flirting? Or did he think my mom was an ugly old hag, therefore insulting me? I didn’t think I looked like my mother at all.

I felt me cheeks redden regardless. And they were still flaming when my mom pranced back to the booth. To my horror, she asked Jason to join us.

“No thanks, ma’am, I’m actually meeting someone. But I really appreciate the offer,” Jason answered sweetly and again I sucked at another straw. Oh come on. Brainfreezebrainfreezebrainfreeze.

As if on cue, Tracy Petrakis flounced into the diner. Tracy Petrakis as in Jason Whitting’s latest endeavor. She lived in the neighboring town, one twenty minutes out of ours. I didn’t actually know her, but she was that girl who has two thousand friends on Facebook. The one whose name you know, but she doesn’t know yours. The one who makes you wonder if any one person even knows two thousand people. But of course, taking a glance at her, anyone could tell why she was so popular. With her spidery long legs that in no way looked nearly as stupid as mine, I felt intimidated. I wasn’t sure if it was being in her presence, or the arm thing that made me feel that way, but either way, I slunk down lower into the vinyl seats. I was suddenly ashamed at the three milkshakes in front of me. Tracy Petrakis’s body was even misplaced in the diner. Her firm muscles didn’t match the grease on my moms plate.

Jason stood up on his crutches and, with a friendly wave, hobbled away with Tracy, who didn’t give our table a second glance.

My mom stared at me stare at them. She waggled her eyebrows playfully and I glared at her in return. Jason Whitting would not be a topic any longer.

 

Thirty minutes and a painful stomachache later, I sat in the tub. My shoulders were burning from keeping my arms hoisted up and I groaned as my mom moved the soaped up loofah over my chest.

This is what my life was now. I was getting bathed by my mother at seventeen years old. The first day I’d protested. And then I laid awake for three hours, thinking about the fact that the next day, I’d be wearing yesterday’s underwear. I’d shaken awake my mother who opened her eyes with a knowing smile on her face. She thought it was cute. She missed when I was a baby. I thought it was horrible. I was absolutely useless without my arms.

The only thing I could do was fiddle with my phone with my fingers. That were sticking out of the pink cast.

“If you drop that phone in there, I’m not getting you another one,” my mom warned, but I rolled my eyes. I was reading CNN articles. If my phone broke, I doubt I would miss it. The only people I talked to were Wilson and my mom, and these days, I took as long as possible to text Wilson back, if at all. I listened to her anyway and tossed my phone onto the floor where it landed with a clatter. My mom tugged roughly at my hair and I let out a yelp. “I pay for that!”

“I’m sorry!” I cried, still wincing. I wanted to rub my scalp where she’d yanked at my hair but I couldn’t. I groaned.

“Whaaaat, Lacey?” my mom asked, exasperated.

“This is awful, mom,” I answered, completely aware of the whine in my voice. She set down the loofah and reached over to pick up the plastic cup sitting on the edge of the tub. She dipped it into the water and poured it over the bubbles. “I literally can’t do anything.”

“Well everything happens for a reason, Lace.”

“There’s a reason I broke both my arms?” I asked flatly.

She fought to hold back a smile. “I’m sure there is, baby.”

“Like what?”

“Like, now you can probably skip out on that stupid physical fitness test,” she offered. And I thought for a moment. This was true. If there was one thing I could not do, was get my gangly legs to run a mile. Much less in under ten minutes. “And look, you’ve already made a new friend. Now you don’t have to spend all your time with that silly Willy. Plus, Jason is so much cuter.”

“Mom, stop!”

“What!”

“Jason Whitting is not my friend,” I said firmly, and turned my head from her, to the trickle of water that still leaked from the bath faucet. “And stop calling Wilson, Willy,” I grumbled.

“Okay, fine, the Whitting boy is not your friend,” she said winking and she paused. “You just better hope I don’t bump into him, because if I do, I’m inviting him over.”

“That’s so weird mom, you’re so old.”

“Number one, I’m not old, and number two, I’m inviting him over for you, you little brat,” she fought, swatting me with a wet hand. My shoulders were burning beyond belief now.

I only blushed, wishing my mom thought it was just the heat of the bathwater. I knew that she didn’t though. If there was one terrible thing about growing up with only my mother all my life, it was that she knew me better than any moms know their kids, which is way to well for my own good. I couldn’t hide a single thing. Even the fact that I may or may not be secretly hoping that my mom will bump into Jason Whitting so that she can follow through with her threat.

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