Janice couldn't even feel the teacup slipping through her fingers. If asked to remember she would say there was a faint smash and a vague memory of a warm liquid flooding her socks.
But mostly all she could remember is her youngest daughter, Holly, tell her that she was leaving.
Janice put up her hand. "Please," she gasped, "let me just…sit down." She reached out for the kitchen chair and settled herself down in it. She ran her hand through her hair and tried to ignore Holly's hovering.
When she could finally speak, Janice asked, "Why Holly? And where will you go?"
Holly tucked a piece of hair behind her ear and shrugged. She shifted her weight and bit her lower lip before saying, "Mother, I'm eighteen years old now. I think I deserve to live on my own now."
Janice couldn't disagree more. Holly's eldest sister Mary was twenty-six and she was living in the apartment right upstairs. Her brother Aaron was just down the street and living with his long-term girlfriend, but he hadn't moved out until he was twenty-two.
Yet here was Holly, dressed in several layers and carrying a large suitcase. Not nearly old enough to move out.
"I want to go to Europe. Maybe see the sights and meet a nice man."
"What about your schooling?"
Holly was never one for school. Janice knew that convincing her youngest to go to college would be a challenge. But she had never expected this. Janice eyed her daughter, who was twisting a piece of her hair now.
"You know that college isn't for me, mother."
Janice closed her eyes. The room felt warm. She didn't want to look at her daughter anymore - or rather, she couldn't bring herself to. She swallowed and said, "No."
"I'd come back."
It was an empty promise, and Janice knew it. Holly always lacked responsibility and self-control. If she went to Europe, she would want to see Asia and then Africa. She would never return. If she did, she would be too bored.
"Don't cry mother."
Janice hadn't even realized tears had been trickling down her cheeks. She moved to wipe them away, but Holly beat her to it. The two women stared at each other - Holly with determined eyes and Janice with defeated ones.
"Did you tell your brother? And your sister?"
Holly smiled slightly. "Of course I did mother."
"And did you pray to your father, rest his soul?"
"As I do every night."
Janice felt an ache in her heart. Not wanting to lose her daughter, she pulled Holly in for a tight hug, which was only half-heartedly returned. Janice shook her head and wiped her eyes before pulling away.
"You've grown far too fast."
Holly shook her head. "No. I just can't stand to stay here any longer. There's nothing for me here. Just a useless degree and a lot of debt. No culture, no travel, not any kind of adventure. You've always known that the small town life was never for me. I hate it here, mother. I need to experience life while I've still got it. I have to leave." She stroked her mother's shoulder. "I'm asking for your blessing, but I'm going to leave whether you approve or not."
"Never should have raised such a determined child." Janice said.
Holly's lips tightened and she pulled her hand away. "I'm not like Mary and Aaron."
Janice forced a smile and she let her hand caress Holly's face. "No, you aren't. You're Holly. My youngest. Always wanting to see the world. Always ready for adventure."
There was a long silence.
Janice stood, and let her hands fall to her sides. She walked past the broken teacup, knowing she'll clean it later, and started walking up the stairs to her room.
She paused, turned slightly, and said, "Then go."