I closed the door to my mom's new home – a converted firehouse. She'd been so excited when her real estate agent showed it to her; at the time, I didn't have the heart to tell her that I didn't plan on staying in Hudson forever – just until the whole thing back in NYC blew over. To be truthful, I kind of hated it here at first. It was so boring compared to back home. But now, I think I'm used to it. In fact, I think I've grown a fondness for the peace and lack of drama in Hudson.
"I'm in the kitchen, honey!"
My phone buzzed as I walked through the living room, dropping my faux leather bag on the couch. Flipping it open, I peeked at my new text.
Come back home NOW. We need to talk.
I sighed, deleting the message. It was just about my fiftieth text from dad, begging, pleading, imploring for me to return to the chaos of New York City. The chaos I'd formerly loved so much. The chaos that I now hated.
"Hey mom," I said, walking into the kitchen where mom was trying to make the best of a burnt Thanksgiving turkey. I smiled as I sat at the breakfast bar, waiting for her to tear her attention away from the smouldering bird. Since being in Hudson, I've been smiling a lot more. I haven't noticed, but I guess other people have; they're always commenting on it (and how pretty my smile is, although I don't believe them).
"Hi Jenny," mom said, finally looking at me. "Something bothering you?"
"No," I said. "Well, yes… I wanna tell you something. It's important."
"Shoot," she said, all ears.
"Can I stay here in Hudson with you?" I implored earnestly.
"Honey, you already are," mom said with a laugh.
"No, I mean, can I stay for longer, at least until I finish high school," I rephrased. "I-I think it'd be better for me if I didn't go back."
"Jenny, that's a big decision," mom said, finally taking this seriously. "Have you asked your father yet?"
"He said it was fine," I lied. "As long as I'm happy."
Mom pondered the options for a moment, looking as though she were deep in thought. I didn't worry too much, though; mom was incredibly easy to win over. Then, a smile split across her face, almost hiding the rest of her features behind the wide grin. "Then I think it's time to celebrate."
I smiled excitedly, jumping out of my chair and hurrying around the breakfast bar to envelope my mother in a hug. "Thanks mom. I love you."
"I love you too, sweetie," mom said, hugging me back. "Now, I was thinking Rochere."
I laughed, looping my arm through my mom's as we began to head out, both of us grabbing our purses as we passed them. Rochere was my favourite restaurant in Hudson. The food there was freaking amazing and it didn't hurt that the waiters were hot.
Shut up. I'm a girl. I think about these things.
Climbing into mom's silver Toyota Prius – me in the passenger's seat with mom driving – we were all smiles as we headed out. Outside, it was already dark as the sun had set no more than an hour before. I stared out the window, watching shapes pass by the window. At night, everything looked so different, so much more interesting. I loved it. I loved how everything seemed new and mysterious. And it was nice, being here, just me and mom. No boyfriend to interrupt the happy silence between us and stealing mom's attention. Right now, it was just daughter and mother. I needed her just as she needed me. Together we were invincible.
Lights flashed ahead as we drove down the silent road, the car's engine purring softly as we got to a stop sign. Looking both ways (mom was annoyingly cautious when driving), we proceeded carefully through the intersection. Everything was going to be perfect. We were going to have Thanksgiving dinner at my favourite restaurant and after, I was going home. My real home in Hudson with my mom. Maybe things were just meant to me. I wasn't a strong believer in much of anything, but maybe it was fate. With determination, I promised myself that tomorrow morning, I was going to see the reverend in the local church.
Once again, lights flashed ahead, but this time, they were closer and accompanied with the sound of screeching tires. Looking ahead, I tried to peer through the darkness. "Hey mom, can you turn on the high beams for a sec?"
"Sure hon," she said, flicking a button right next to the steering wheel. Immediately, the high beams popped on, illuminating everything within its reach. And sure enough, it did what it needed to and lit up everything in our path. Instantly, I began to regret my request. Before us, a mail carrier truck swerved between the lanes, reaching speeds that were nearly twice the speed limit. All I could do, all anyone could do, was sit and watch as the truck swerved into our lane, doomed to hit the shiny Toyota. I braced myself for impact.