The white dress mocked me in the mirror. I swore.
It was possibly the most adorable summer dress that I had ever seen. I had to have it once I laid my eyes on it, like many other things, my mother had taken a bit more time before accepting it. Then she called it cute, endearing, and that it made me look like I had just stepped out of a storybook. After that ordeal I had no choice anymore, but to accept it.
The dress fit me perfectly; enhancing my best and favorite features. It made my eyes look even greener, brought strength to the tan I worked on over the summer, and created my hair into an orderly disarray instead of its usual bedraggled look.
Yes it looked amazing, yes I felt amazing, but in this dress I was back to perfect princess Tessera. That was one thing definitely not on my list of things to become.
I wrinkled my nose at the image in the mirror and pulled off the dress. My orange bikini top clashed terribly with my hennaed hair. I pulled at the length of my hair and sighed. It needed to be cut too. It was just so hard to keep everything in shape. There were college meetings to be planned, friends to hang with, and sad attempts to enjoy the last summer before my senior year.
I flopped down on my bed mulling over my new situation when somebody lightly tapped on my door. I breathed loudly to let them know I was in here and alive.
“Tessera, honey?” I heard my mom say from the outside of the door. “Could I come in?”
I kind of made a grunting noise which she must have taken as a yes because she suddenly plopped down next to me sending one of my many pillows flying down onto the floor. Her childish and excited smile threw me off completely. She normally seemed to have a slight disappointed look every time she saw me. I wasn’t fitting in her perfect mold and we both knew it.
My mom had me at a young age around nineteen or so and with the man she still is with today even though he’s hardly around. They’ve had an interesting marriage and I’m the only child before five miscarriages, when they thought that they could have another, it died during birth. Sometimes I wonder if my mom would have appreciated her and she would have grown up to her requirements. Too bad she couldn’t claim that with me.
She leaned over to brush the hair out of my face while I tried not to flinch away from her. “Did you want something mother?” I sighed.
“Yes I actually did,” she said making her annoyance with me clear as daylight. Hallelujah, another lecture.
Rolling my eyes, I leaned down and picked up the pillows up from my floor. I was surprised that she didn’t help as well. I made these pillows by myself and this was something that she wanted me to keep working at. Lately my mom’s relationship with me hasn’t been all the best. I found a new interest for college which my mom didn’t really like as much as her previous plan for me to become a doctor. My science and mathematical skills weren’t the best for that type of department. I was trying to make it in the history or journalist department. I was brave enough to go out and get what I needed to get. I’ve always been the rebellious type and this past year I had finally found a way to use it. My mom and I had always gotten together before this. She enjoyed hauling me and my friends or a boyfriend, currently named Chad, to wherever we needed to go. My mom seemed like the perfect parent; always there to talk and bring me places. She was just one of the girls and that was the problem.
When she realized I wasn’t going to respond, she got to the point. “Okay, now I know you don’t like going to town anymore, but I was really hoping we could get out today. You’re never out and about with me or your friends. You never interact with people anymore!” she rambled.
I shook my head before cutting her off. “Mom I hang out with my friends all the time. Please just get to the point?” I said already tired of her questioning.
“Alright then, how about we go out to dinner tonight?” she asked with this crazy hopeful expression on her face.
I didn’t let the expression register. “I’m not sure. You know I don’t like to. There’s no reason to and we don’t really have to money to go anyway. There’s no reason,” I said.
She glanced down at the floor. “Yes there is Tessy; I haven’t had any time to be with you this year. It’s a girl’s night out. Please, for me?” She pouted. I was caught off guard when she used the name I asked her to use. That wasn’t going to get me to give in though.
I shook my head. There was no way. “Come on mom, I don’t want to go. I’m doing college work.” I gestured towards the papers on my desk. “You know how important this is to me.” I stared at her, just daring for her to force me to go with her.
My mom had been reading those self help books you see at bookstores. It didn’t start with me and I’m definitely not the last reason for why she’ll read them. She’s gone through how to purify your friendship to communication with your animals. The worst book of all was the one I found when I was simply trying to find the book she had recently finished. Instead of pulling out a book about a summer friendship, I pulled out How to Make HIM Understand Your Sexual Needs and Fantasies. I never wanted to look at my mom again. Now though she’s on books about communicating with your teen and how to deal with your daughter’s “rebellious period”. It sounded too much like a menstrual cycle for me to stomach it. I did browse through it though and it did have some good ideas, but my mom shouldn’t have let me accidently find it. One of the suggestions in it is not to push them into anything they really don’t feel like doing. I had the power now.
She stared at me and I did kind of feel bad for telling her no, but not enough to want to go. “I’m sorry Tessy, but you need to get out of here. Let’s go,” she said.
Apparently my thinking that she would listen to the book was very wrong.
A half an hour later we were sitting in one of the town’s restaurants that didn’t just serve hamburgers. It wasn’t fast food, but it wasn’t high class either. They had lights over each table and it was chilly, but the bar centered in the middle was highly occupied at all times.
I sipped my smoothie completely disregarding my mother’s stare downs. I agreed to go with her and that was all she was getting from me.
After taking a few more sips of her daiquiri, she started the discussion she was dying to start. “Honey what happened to Chad?”
I stared back at her. “He’s still around. I see him all the time,” I said, ripping the straw wrapper in many pieces.
She had become quite insistent ever since Chad stopped coming around. She was hurt by both of us, which was absolutely unfair because I’m the one that told him to stay away from the house. There was no reason for her to be upset when it was my life and I didn’t want her to have a place there.
“Well then why don’t I ever see him around anymore?” she asked, trying to stare me down. It never worked. I invented the stare down.
I played around with the napkins. “I was just tired of him coming over all the time. I wanted just time alone with him. Sorry mom, but you just didn’t understand we didn’t want you around.”
The rest of dinner was quiet.
After a long awkward car ride home consisting of my mom explaining how hurt she was by my words and me being unresponsive; I picked up my phone to call Chad.
The familiar trill of tones meets my ear, my very own ring back tone set for me by Chad with a “see how special you are?” smile.
When he picked up I asked him to meet at our park in fifteen minutes and gave him a quick goodbye. I wasn’t going to listen to my mom all night.
About ten minutes later I had managed to sneak out the back sliding glass door and jogged the length to the park. This was where Chad and I had gone on our first date, ending here after ice cream cones and a walk. After a few dates and some random calls, he brought me here again where he properly asked me to be his girlfriend and we decided to be official. Ever since then this has been our meeting spot and our very own bubble away from the rest of the world.
I sat down on the swing set where they faced either to the duck pond or the parking lot, depending on the direction you chose to sit. I always chose to face away from the parking lot, so there was a more mysterious air when he came up behind me. I also loved watching the ducks especially tonight. It was a perfect balmy summer night for taking a walk or just enjoying the nightly crickets. The swing hardly creaked and the recent rain gave everything a full and greener look.
I let my feet brush against the hard earth below me as I swung back and forth, keeping a steady slow pace. The lighter pieces of my hair flew in front of my face and then back behind my shoulders as I waited. A car engine grew closer and then shined its headlights across the park momentarily frightening the geese. I watched them swim back together as if the person in the car had no significance to me.
The engine cut off and the sounds of a person opening and then closing the door reached my ears. There were soft footsteps and then hands on my shoulders. Without saying a word I stood up and wrapped my arms around his waist.
I took in the slightly musky scent of him and the feel of his polo shirt on my finger tips. I heard him take a long breath in and then out. “Tessy,” he murmured. I held him tighter.
I pulled my head from Chad’s shoulder and he gave me a quick kiss. “So how has my girl been doing?” he asked, a playful smile pulling on the corners of his mouth.
Chad was one of those jock types that every girl wants. His broad shoulders and strong torso were starting to tan from the track season that was mandatory for every football player. He had baby blonde hair flopped over two bright green eyes that were always filled with the answers that I fell for over and over again. I couldn’t even resist them now.
I rolled my eyes. “I had a dinner out with my mom and it didn’t go the way she planned at all,” I explained.
He cocked his head to the side, urging me to go on. I explained the whole ordeal starting with the conversation in my room and ending with the “You really hurt me” speech.
“And to make matters worse,” I continued, “she gave me a ten o’clock curfew for the summer!” I said.
Chad laughed. “You don’t do anything after ten o’clock Tess and if you do you sneak out anyways.”
I took a few steps back and wrinkled my nose. “You make me sound so rebellious,” I told him.
He placed his hands on either side of my head and touched my nose with his. “You are rebellious. You’re my rebellious girl,” he said and then kissed me.
His kiss made me melt like it made the previous six girls or so. Chad was only my second serious boyfriend among a few other silly, not worth mentioning ones and his were all special.
I broke away. “Yeah I see what I’m good for,” I teased, turning around and crossing my arms.
Chad came up behind me and wrapped his arms around my waist. “To get me in trouble? Hey, we all have a wild side,” he said.
I giggled and ran to the monkey bars. We acted like children running back and forth, climbing through the tunnels, and seeing who could swing the highest, all between kisses.
We were swinging together and I watched my feet go up high getting lost in the night sky. I breathed in the cool summer air and let go of the swing. Before I was able to land on my own Chad was in my path catching me just before he fell back. We lay there, laughing and I kissed him slowly.
Somebody pushed at the fence and yelled, “Nobody enjoys watching your PDA!” I giggled and pulled Chad up from the ground to run to the other side.