Maddie’s mother was kicking her out of the house again. She’d shown up last night, drunk, knocking into the flower planters, ringing the doorbell when she couldn’t get her key to work. The whole scene, even for Maddie might have been embarrassing, if it hadn’t been so much fun. “You look like a raccoon,” her mother had sputtered, before closing the door in Maddie’s face. At three in the morning, parents were allowed to be rude, their insults framed by emotion rather than rationality.
Now in the high sunlight of the mid-afternoon, Maddie awoke to her mother filling two large duffel bags with some of Maddie’s clothes, a phone charger, a half-empty water bottle, acne cream that had expired two years ago, a broken flip-flop. Even most of the clothes were out of season, this being the middle of July.
Maddie tried to sit up, but the room spun like a figure skater with a broken leg.
“The late night queen arises. You might forget what happens in the middle of the night, but I don’t.”
“Mom, leave it. I’ll spend a few nights at Charlotte’s. I don’t need half this stuff.”
“What you need is some perspective. You want to be young and free, do it somewhere much less visible.”
“I’m only seventeen. Is this even legal?”
“Legal? So that’s your argument? I did all of this shit, so you wouldn’t have to. The drinking, the drugs, the awkward sex. All of it for you. And I won’t relive it.”
“Why does everyone old hate the young so much? I mean, if you did the same stuff, then why don’t you get it?”
Her mother sat down on the bed, took Maddie’s hands in her own. “Your whole life, I’ve been trying to get you to slow down, stay a kid, but right now, I’d love it if you just grew up.”
Maddie gripped her mother’s hands, repulsed by their wrinkles, the hard nodules of her knuckles. “Not today, mother. Seventeen feels like home.”
“I hope, honey, that it offers you shelter.”
Hours later, after watching the ceiling fan oscillate, wondering if she was finally going to throw up, the anger settling in her mind like stirred up rocks in an aquarium, Maddie thought of a way to hurt her mother. A parting gift for this cleaving of mother and daughter. A girl finally free of her mother’s shadow.
Maddie crept into her parent’s bedroom, the room dim from the tightly curtained windows. There were things she could break, mementos of Maddie’s childhood: the framed baby picture collage, the pottery tackily painted, the stupid Precious Moments figures that followed the events of her childhood. Maddie, unlike most teenagers didn’t have a flair for the dramatic, but rather, especially when sober, lived far more practically. So rather than break the sentimental items, she elected to reach into her mother’s jewelry box and scoop out the diamond stud earrings. She didn’t even pause to watch them glitter. By the time her mother knew they were missing, Maddie would have bought an entire new life. Something worth reliving.
Tommy Dean is the author of a flash fiction chapbook entitled Special Like the People on TV from Redbird Chapbooks. A graduate of the Queens University of Charlotte MFA program, he has been previously published in the Watershed Review, The MacGuffin, Split Lip Magazine, Spartan, Hawaii Pacific Review, and New Flash Fiction Review. Find him @TommyDeanWriter on Twitter.