“Your mom called again.”
Jason’s words pulled Cassie from an instant messaging session with a friend. As he waited Cassie gave an exasperated sigh and lowered the lid on the laptop.
“Okay.” It was poised as a question, meaning, did he talk to her? What did she want? That they had developed a sort of shorthand between them in the time they’d been together pleased her. That her mother had called again did not.
Jason sat down next to her on the futon. “I really think you should just call her, babe.”
Cassie looked at him with consternation. “I can’t.”
She stared at her hands. Nails bitten to the quick and raw cuticles told of the inner stress she carried. She balled her hands into fists as if hiding the outward signs would somehow take away what she hid in her heart. Jason placed his hand on top of hers. Squeezed it gently. More shorthand. Cassie leaned in against him and allowed the hum of the ceiling fan to lull her into relaxing.
“It’s complicated. You know that.” She said after a time. “Mmm.” Jason’s response was muffled, his lips pressed against her silky hair.
The falling out between Cassie and her mother, Rachel, had happened months ago, right after Cassie announced her decision to leave her husband of five years and move in with Jason, the man she’d been secretly in love with for several months. From Cassie’s standpoint it wasn’t that much different from when her parents split up. Her mother may not have had a lover on the side, but she should certainly be able to relate to Cassie’s need to escape the nightmare of abuse that her marriage had become. Instead, Rachel had taken issue with Jason, as if Jason alone was the reason for Cassie’s termination of the marriage.
“I‘ve tried explaining it to her. She doesn’t want to listen. She only sees it from her point of view. She doesn’t want to believe that Danny was treating me like dirt. She just keeps bringing up Ashley. Like I haven’t thought about my baby?”
“She’s worried about Ashley. It’s natural. She’s got to be thinking about what it was like for you and your brother when she left your dad. She regrets what you guys suffered.”
Cassie wiggled out of his arm and pushed off the futon. Talk about her parent’s divorce had never gotten easier, even after all these years.
“I asked her once if she could do it over, would she have done things differently— for Jesse and me. She couldn’t give me an answer. To me that means she would have still left my dad. Still left us kids behind.”
Cassie couldn’t hide the bitterness in her words. The wound was being scratched open, the wave of hurt rising. “At least, I took my baby with me!”
As she spoke she glanced across the tiny apartment to where Ashley slept deeply in her playpen.
Cassie guessed there were many details about her parent’s marriage and divorce that she did not know about. She understood that her perspective of things was colored by how old she was when her parents divorced. And to be fair, her mother had fought for custody of Cassie and Jesse. But the hurt of being left behind by their mother had also colored things and neither child wanted to live with her by the time Rachel had finally managed to retain a lawyer.
In time Cassie, though never fully healed, had reconciled with her mother. Cassie thought of the many times her mother had tried to explain her reasons for leaving the way she did and how Cassie had shut her down. Now the shoe was on the other foot. Rachel wasn’t listening to Cassie.
Cassie watched her daughter sleep, a fierce tenderness pumping in her chest. She hoped her relationship with her daughter would never go down this path. She sighed heavily. This cycle needed to be broken. It needed to start now.
“Maybe if she would be willing to listen to me… really listen… and maybe if I’d be willing to really listen to her…” Cassie’s voice broke as she ventured into a new territory of thoughts; trying to see things from Rachel’s perspective.
“Maybe.” She whispered. She picked up the phone before she could change her mind.
Cassie heard the hope in her mother’s voice when she answered. Heart beating fast, Cassie plunged in. “Mom? I… I’d really like it if we could talk.”
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