Two days ago
“Jensen.” His voice embodied the throaty, animalistic warning of a lion about to annihilate his prey.
Juliette, my father’s woman, scrambled beneath me, pushing me off her as a look of fear in her eyes clashed with the orgasmic flush that colored her cheeks. We’d imagined this scenario a hundred times before, but talking about it was different than playing it out in real life. It was a lot funnier in our minds, probably because he was such an asshole. Maybe I deserved some of it, but she sure as fuck didn’t.
And if fucking me made her feel better about her pathetic little puppy-on-a-leash life, than who was I to judge? She was hot as sin and scarcely old enough to be my mother. I had no problem plunging myself inside her on a weekly basis.
Juliette had been moaning my name for the last thirty minutes, but now all she could scream was, “No, no, no, no!”
I didn’t realize I was within an inch of my life until my father’s fingers curled around my neck. I couldn’t breathe. He slammed my back against the wall. I was naked. I didn’t remember being pulled off the bed, but all of a sudden I was on the other side of the room, face-to-face with the man who’d brought me into this world. He was two seconds from ripping my balls off and shoving them down my throat.
How long had he been watching us?
“You arrogant little bastard!” he seethed, his nostrils flaring as venomous spit accompanied his words.
I couldn’t breathe, but damn if my lips didn’t twist into a smile. He called me “little.” I towered over that son of a bitch, and he knew it. Plus, according to Juliette, height wasn’t the only way in which I outsized my father.
He clenched his hand harder around my throat, pressing against my windpipe as I gasped for air. Within seconds the room began to darken, and Juliette’s hysterical shrieks echoed off the walls.
“Josiah, stop! You’re going to kill him!”
The social worker’s state-owned Suburban pulls to a gentle stop, waking me from my Codeine-induced, six-hour nap. I wipe the drool from my mouth and glance out the window. My eyes are still black and blue and they hurt when I squint, but I’ve learned over the years to ignore the pain; eventually, it goes away.
“We’re here, Jensen.” Her voice is annoyingly soft and sweet like cotton candy. Judging by all the photos on her work desk, she is one of those Mother Teresa types, only she’s married and she and her husband have adopted a whole orphanage-worth of system children. Brad and Angelina would be proud. Guess they didn’t have room for me. “Is that your mother?”
Standing on the front steps of a picturesque yellow colonial is a woman who resembles my mother. She’s wearing jeans and a blue sweater, and her hair is long and pulled back. It’s still the same shade of shit-brown I vaguely remember.
“Come on,” the social worker coaxes me with her voice, like it’s some kind of magical lullaby. It probably works on little kids, but not grown-ass eighteen-year-olds. “She’s excited to see you.”
I sit up, raking my hand through my dark hair and combing it into place. I don’t know much about my mother besides the fact that she left my father when I was seven, and she never came back for me. Dad told me all sorts of salacious stories, none of which I fully believed. None of what he said mattered, anyway. Her actions spoke for her.
The social worker—who I think is named Mercy, or some shit like that—climbs out of the Suburban and waddles to my side, pulling open the door until I melt out like liquefied boredom.
I glance up at my mom again. Her hands are clasped at her waist, and her mouth keeps dancing into a reserved smile, which fades and reappears like it’s on some kind of loop. She’s nervous. I just want to get this whole awkward reintroduction thing over with, be shown to my new room, and walk a straight line for the next few months.
Then my life can finally fucking start.
I just need to graduate from high school in a few weeks and crash here for the summer, and then there’s an apprenticeship waiting for me in Los Angeles with one of the best tattoo artists in the world. He called me himself the day he received my unsolicited drawings and told me there’s a spot for me in his shop this August.
I amble up the sidewalk, the earth a little unsteady from my Codeine-stupor, and approach my mother for the first time in eleven years.
“Hi, Kath,” Mercy says to her. They shake hands like they’re conducting a business deal and my mother gingerly approaches me. At least she’s willing to meet me in the middle, because this is awkward as hell.