Scarecrow and Mrs King belong to Shoot The Moon productions, and not to me

Originally posted on Wicklow Place as part of a story challenge. Thanks to Jan and Amy for providing the challenge :)

Roller Coaster Ride

Saturday, March 23, 2002

"Amanda, are you sure she really needs one?"

Amanda spread some marmalade on her toast. "Lee we've already discussed this, and the answer is still yes. I'm going to take her shopping this morning."

Lee shook his head. "I just don't think it's necessary right now. Maybe in another year or two."

Or three, he silently added, taking a sip of his coffee. Amanda's sigh was audible.

"In another year or two it'll be too late," she said. "Maybe you haven't noticed, but Jenna's really beginning to fill out."

"To fill out?" Lee repeated. He fought to keep his expression impassive, but it felt as though his eyes were starting to bulge out of their sockets. The sheets of newspaper he held made a rattling noise as his hands shook slightly.

Amanda nodded. "She's a lot curvier than I was at that age," she said. "It must come from your side of the family."

"Amanda I think you're exaggerating," Lee said. He folded up the paper neatly and put it down on the table, trying to regain some composure. "Jenna's still very little-she's not curvy at all."

"Oh really?" Amanda said. "You know, Stetson, for a spy you're not that observant when it comes to your own child. I swear sometimes that you still see her as a seven-year old with pigtails."

"That's not true," Lee said. "I know that Jenna's growing up. I'm fine with it. Mostly."

"Oh, mostly," Amanda said.

"I just don't think she's at the point where she needs a-a-"

"A bra?" Amanda said.

"Yeah that," Lee managed to say. Amanda reached across the table and took his hand, squeezing gently.

"Lee, it really will be okay," she said.

Lee let his thumb gently massage the back of Amanda's knuckles. "It just that it seems like only yesterday that Jenna was learning to walk," he said. "Where did all that time go?"

"Children grow up fast," Amanda said, with a smile. "I still can't believe that Philip and Jamie are grown and gone, and now Jamie's getting married this summer… Jenna's still young, Lee. We have to enjoy the time we have with her now."

"I'm trying to enjoy it, Amanda." Lee said, "But most of these days I feel like I'm riding a roller coaster and someone's forgotten to stop the ride."

"Well no one ever said that raising a teenage daughter would be easy," Amanda said, giving Lee's hand another squeeze before she stood. She gathered up the breakfast dishes and took them from the nook into the kitchen, filling the sink with soapy water.

"Mom, I'm ready to go," Jenna called as she came downstairs and into the kitchen.

"Okay, sweetheart," Amanda said. "But sit down first- before we go anywhere you're going to eat some breakfast."

"Mom, I'm really not hungry," Jenna said. "Can't we just go?"

"Jenna Leigh, I don't want to hear it," Amanda said. "You know what breakfast is?"

"The most important meal of the day," Jenna said, "Can I have a toaster strudel?"

"Well if that's really what you want," Amanda said.

Lee watched his daughter as she came in to the breakfast nook area, sitting down at the table opposite him. This time he really looked, and somehow managed not to spew his coffee all over the table.

Dear God in Heaven, Lee thought weakly; Amanda hadn't been exaggerating at all.

"Jenna, just what on earth do you think you're wearing?" He said.

Jenna looked down at herself and then back up at Lee, her brow knitted with confusion.

"Dad it's a t-shirt," she said. "You gave it to me for my birthday, remember?"

Lee remembered, but he didn't think he remembered the shirt fitting quite like that.

"I just think it might be a little cold outside for that shirt," he told Jenna. "Maybe you want to wear a sweatshirt or a sweater instead."

"It's going to be 75 degrees today," Jenna said.

"Well then maybe you could wear a bigger shirt," Lee said. "That shirt really is a little small."

"But Dad it looked just fine in the mirror," Jenna said. She was frowning now. "I don't think it's too small at all."

Lee sighed. "Do you have to argue with everything I say?" He said. "Why can't you just agree with me for once?"

"Lee there's nothing wrong with that shirt," Amanda said as she came in from the kitchen and put a toaster strudel and a glass of orange juice in front of Jenna. "It looks perfectly appropriate."

Both his wife and daughter were looking at him now; Lee knew when he was beaten.

"Fine," he said. "It's fine." Lee picked up the newspaper again and held it in front of his face, pretending to be fascinated in the latest stock reports.

"Mom do you think maybe I should get a black bra?" Jenna asked. "My friend Christy said that a black bra works best under a white shirt or blouse."

Lee's hands clenched, clutching the sides of the newspaper.

"Ah- well," Amanda said. "Christy has a point, sweetheart, but I think for someone your age maybe a tan-colored bra will look best."

"Okay," Jenna said. "And don't forget I still need a strapless bra too."

"I haven't forgotten," Amanda said.

Lee put the paper down on the table with a slight thump. "A strapless bra?" He said, fighting to keep his voice calm-sounding. "Why do you need that?"

"Our dance team is learning to cha-cha and the teacher wants us to wear these halter dresses," Jenna told him, a slight shadow crossing her face as she spoke. "I don't know why we have to do it-I'm really bad at holding my frame and the heels really make my bad leg hurt."

The look on his daughter's face when she talked about her leg reminded Lee of all the things that Jenna had already been through in her short life.

No one ever said that raising a teenage daughter would be easy, Amanda had told him. And suddenly all the arguments over the bra and the t-shirt seemed a little petty.

"Jenna, look, if the shoes hurt you maybe you should tell the teacher," Lee said, his voice softening slightly. "I'm sure she'll let you wear something else. And your Mom and I can help you with the dance, we do a pretty mean cha-cha together."

"Yes we do," Amanda said, smiling at Lee.

"Thanks," Jenna said, her face lighting up. "That would be great."

"Well come on sweetheart," Amanda said, grabbing her keys and an umbrella. "We need to get a move on if we're going to be back before lunchtime."

"Okay Mom," Jenna said as she stood. She gave Lee a hug. "See you later, Dad-I love you."

"Love you too, munchkin," Lee said. He followed his wife and daughter to the door, catching Amanda just as she was about to leave.

"I love you too, Mrs. Stetson," he murmured. "I'll see you later."

"Count on it," Amanda said, and their lips met in a kiss.

"Oh come on," Jenna groaned.

Amanda broke the kiss reluctantly, mouthing the words 'later' and smiling as Lee winked and blew her a kiss. Lee stood by the door watching until his wife and daughter got into the Taurus and drove away.

The phone rang and Lee picked it up. "Hello?" He said.

"Is Jenna there?" A boy's voice said.

"No," Lee said. "She's gone shopping with her mother. Who is this?"

"Paul Davidson," the boy said. "I just wondered if Jenna wanted to go to the movies with me tonight. She's a really cute girl."

The way that Paul Davidson said 'really cute girl' made Lee's stomach twist into little knots.

"No," Lee said, fighting to keep his cool. "She does not want to go out to the movies with you because she's much too young to go out on dates. Understand?"

"But Jenna said that she would really like to sometime," Paul said.

"Well I'm Jenna's father and the decision is mine," Lee said. "The answer is still no. Please don't call here again."

Lee hung up the phone and sank down into a nearby armchair. Once Jenna got home, Lee decided, they were going to have another long talk.

The End