It's a Saturday morning in early Fall. The winds are shifting from warm to brisk and the leaves dance across the pavement on Maura's short walk to the office. She'd left both of her sleeping beauties at home, hoping to return with enough time to make them brunch before Dylan's softball tournament. She is knuckle-deep in paperwork when her phone vibrates on the edge of the desk.
"Good morning, sweetie."
Hi, Mommy. Dylan's voice is thick with sleep and the rustling on the other end of the line lends Maura to believe she's still huddled under the covers of her bed.
Maura smiles at the affection in her daughter's tone, something that had become increasingly rare in the midst of AP exams and football games. "You're up early for a Saturday."
Yeah, Patrick woke me up.
Maura doesn't know how to respond to that, so she focuses on breathing and waits for an explanation.
Dylan laughs into her pillow, Don't worry, he just texted me. It woke me up. That's all I meant.
"Right. Yes. I knew that."
Anyway, his cousin's having this thing tonight, and I was wondering if I could just ride with him after the tournament.
"Dylan, I know you just woke up, but please use a more descriptive word than 'thing.'"
Her daughter sighs. Gathering. Get-together. Kickback. Party. Would you like me to go on?
"That will suffice, thank you. How old is Patrick's cousin?"
"Where does he or she live?"
He lives in Beacon Hill, not too far from us.
"Will there be adult supervision?"
Mom, Marco IS an adult. He will be supervising.
"Who is Marco?"
"Oh." Maura taps her pen on the stack of papers in front of her. "Can you ask your mother?"
She went to the store. Forgot we're on snack duty for the first game.
"Why don't we talk about it over breakfast. I'll be home in a half hour, okay?"
Dylan's sigh is loud in her earpiece. Fine.
"I love you."
Maura clicks the red button on the corner of her phone and then opens her messaging app.
Doctor Smartypants: Fresh fruit and whole grains?
A message bings through a couple minutes later.
Detective Smartypants: Capri-suns and doritos.
Maura shakes her head. It's going to be a long day.
Maura is hovering over the stove, flipping a special version of her carb-loaded and protein-filled omelet to fuel her daughter's busy day.
Dylan sits at the counter in her fresh softball uniform reading a battered copy of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Her socked feet are on the stool next to her, the book resting against her knees. Her long, wavy hair, just like Jane's, has been thrown into a bun atop her head.
"How much more of that do you have to read by Monday?" Maura asks. She wipes her hands on her apron and opens the fridge.
"Twenty pages," Dylan mumbles.
Maura pours a glass of milk and slides it across the counter. "Do you like it?"
Dylan doesn't look up. She fumbles for the glass of the milk, swallows a sip, and then says, "No."
"Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind." Maura recites her favorite quote from Midsummer to herself and returns to the stove.
Dylan wipes her milk mustache with the back of her wrist and flips the page. Somewhere on the other side of the house, the front door slams open. Jane kicks it shut with the bottom of her tennis shoe. She emerges in the kitchen holding a box of capri-suns in one hand, and her keys and a "30% MORE!" bag of doritos in the other.
"Maur, do you have any idea why Old Mr. Rogers keeps parking his massive SUV in front of our mail box? It's driving me up the wall. I'm about to call patrol to give him a ticket!"
Maura ignores the question and eyes the food. "Please tell me you left the oranges in the car."
"What oranges," Jane says, pouting.
"Ma," Dylan says, looking up from her book. "It's basically a requirement that we bring oranges. They're energizing."
"Why are they energizing?" Maura asks her daughter.
"Vitamin C reduces oxidative damage, which increases energy. Although, it's highly debated whether or not the correlation is direct or indirect."
Maura winks at her daughter. "One omelet for you."
Jane puts the food on the table and takes the stool next to her daughter, shoving her feet off.
"Hey," Dylan says. "My feet were there."
"Yeah? Well now my ass is here. What're you gunna do about it?"
Dylan sighs, feigning disinterest, and the second Jane glances away, Dylan swoops. She flips the rim of her mom's visor. It sticks in Jane's ponytail, bouncing in her curls.
"Oh, nice," Jane says, reaching across her mini-me for the plate of eggs and veggies.
Dylan tries to squirm her body to block her mom, but Jane is too fast and has a bite in her mouth before Dylan even knows what happened.
"Mom!" Dylan calls to Maura.
"Ladies," Maura says from the stove-top. Her back is to them. She doesn't want to know what is happening. "Enough."
Dylan sticks her tongue out at Jane, tugging her plate from her grasp. Jane points a finger in her daughter's face and mouths, Watch your back.
"Have you eaten breakfast, Jane?"
Jane hops off the chair and sidles up to her wife. She wraps her arms around Maura's waist from behind and says into her ear, "I would love an omelet."
Jane tugs Maura's light hair from underneath the strap of the cooking apron, and Maura turns her head for a quick kiss on the lips. As she turns back to the stove, Jane continues with the kisses on Maura's neck.
"Can you please stop that," Dylan mutters. "You're making me lose my appetite."
"Cover your face with your book," Jane says to the spot behind Maura's ear.
"This stove is hot, Jane," Maura says, although if Dylan weren't in the room, she would likely forget about the food and turn around to face her wife.
Jane plants one last wet one on Maura's cheek and then lifts herself onto the counter. "Did you go in today?"
"Just for a couple of hours. I got a little behind on the paperwork for the Rivera case."
"Tell me about it. My desk is swimming."
"Um? This is fascinating and all," Dylan says with a mouth full of food, "but Pat keeps texting me."
"That's fascinating," Jane says, mocking her daughter. "Why do we care that Pat is texting you?"
"Mom," Dylan says.
Maura flips off the stove and drops a heavy omelet onto Jane's plate. She leans her palm on the counter and places the other on her hip. Her girls take simultaneous bites, both looking at her.
"Dylan wants to go to a gathering at Patrick's cousin's house later tonight. She is wondering if he can drive her from the park. Pat's cousin's name is Marco, he's twenty years old, and he is the adult supervision. Oh," Maura adds, "and he lives in the neighborhood."
"Well, if he lives in the neighborhood," Jane says to her daughter, "then why can't you just drive home with us and bike from here?"
"So I can go?"
"Not necessarily." Jane sets her plate on the counter. "What do you mean by gathering? Like, a party?"
Dylan shrugs, "I guess so."
"Will there be alcoholic beverages at this party?"
Dylan's eyes bounce from Jane to Maura, and back to Jane, trying to weigh the pros and cons of lying versus telling the truth. She decides to go with the latter. "I don't know."
"How about you find out, and then we'll tell you whether or not you can go." Jane hops off the counter as though the conversation is closed. She stacks Dylan's plate atop her own and places them in the sink.
"No buts." Jane checks her watch. "We're gunna be late. Go grab your bag."
Dylan sulks out of the room. Jane eyes Maura, who has been silent for minutes.
"What are you thinking?"
Maura chews the inside of her cheek before responding. "I'm thinking maybe we should consider letting her go."
Jane tilts her chin down and waits for the explanation.
"She has worked really hard this semester. I trust her. I think she deserves to have a little fun."
"Yes, I agree. But I don't think we should encourage her to have fun in this way."
"In what way?"
"Why can't she have fun with her friends like, at the beach? Or the movie theatre? Why at some random 20-year-old's house doing who-knows-what?"
"Many sociologists have tried and failed to explain the inner-workings of teenage social patterns, but there will without a doubt always be that one place that she wants to go, and we will always think that one place is too dangerous, or too far, or too old—"
"Maura. I am a cop. I can't just knowingly send my 16-year-old daughter off to an unsupervised party which may or may not include underage drinking."
Maura sighs, acknowledging the point, then decides to try a different angle. "Did you go to parties in high school?"
"Of course I did. I was a jock."
"Mhmm. And what did you do when Angela said you couldn't go?"
Jane sighs, "I went anyway."
Maura hums again. "Do you know what we did at boarding school when the Resident Supervisors said we couldn't leave campus to visit the boy's school across the lake?"
"You stayed in, braided each other's hair, and read your Chemistry textbooks?"
Maura purses her lips and squints her eyes, shooting her wife her best look of annoyance. "No. We went anyway."
Jane taps the countertop with her fist. Bump, bump, bump. "You really think she would defy us?"
"I think she's sixteen. Her hormones are all over the place."
"So I put a uniform outside her window."
Maura presses her lips together. "Jane."
Dylan appears in the doorway. "Moms? It's like, ten after. I'm supposed to be there in five. So when you're done fighting about me, I'll be in the car." She slams the door on her way out.
Jane jumps up. "Crap, she's right." She grabs her keys from the counter and places a quick kiss on Maura's lips before jogging towards the door. "Will you bring the snacks?" she yells over her shoulder.
"I am not bringing those snacks," Maura says.
Jane hovers at the open door. "Okay, let me re-phrase: Will you bring something—anything to eat for Dill's team?"
Dylan's phone is in front of her face when Jane pulls herself into the driver's seat. Her daughter's legs are long like hers and are bent, pushed onto the dashboard. Jane starts the car and accelerates down the driveway.
"Your mom's probably gunna show up with a gourmet fruit platter, just so you know."
Dylan switches her phone to her right hand and flips on the radio with her left. She pushes her socked toes into the window with the beat, her eyes on the road.
As they wait at the first red light, Jane turns off the radio. She speaks with one hand on the steering wheel, one hand waving around to demonstrate her point. "I know you're mad at me, but your mom wants me to consider letting you go. So I'm considering it. Okay? Meanwhile, you find out if there will be alcohol there and we'll see if we can strike a deal."
Dylan throws her hands into the air. "What am I supposed to do? Just flat out ask Pat if there's gunna be alcohol at the party?"
"That's one way to do it, yeah."
"But that's so embarrassing!"
Jane clicks the blinker. "Dill, if you feel like you can't be honest with him, maybe you should think about how this relationship is affecting your sense of self."
"I can be honest with him. I'd just rather not."
Jane smiles despite her better judgment. They drive for a while in silence, letting the tension dissipate.
"You can't wear that to my game."
"Why not? You love the Sox."
"The first team we're playing has red and white jerseys. My teammates will think you've switched teams." Dylan hardly gets the words out of her mouth before she erupts in giggles. "Get it? Switched teams?" she asks in a high-pitched voice.
Jane rolls her eyes but can't suppress a smile as she pulls into the parking lot. "Yeah, yeah. Very original. I think you got your sense of humor from your other mother."
Dylan waves at her team mates who are gathering at the edge of the lot.
Jane turns to look out the rear window as she backs into a spot, but instead of putting her hand on the back of Dylan's seat, she flips her daughter's visor up while yelling, "SNEAK ATTACK! GOTCHYA!"
It's top of the second inning when Maura finally appears at the bottom of the bleachers. She holds her hand up to her eyebrows and squints into the sun. Jane waves at her beautiful wife, and then watches in half embarrassment and half admiration as Maura struggles to avoid getting her feet stuck in the gaps of the bleachers.
"I thought you were gunna stop wearing heels to games," Jane says as Maura settles in next to her.
"I wore wedges! It helped a lot. Sorry I'm late; the line at Gelson's was longer than I anticipated for a Saturday morning. How's she doing?"
Dylan's team is, in fact, winning, so much so that by the bottom of the seventh, they're up by nine runs. Jane and Maura are behind the dugout setting up the post-game snacks when they hear Dylan grunt on the other side of the wooden paneling. Maura raises her eyebrows and puts her ear to the wall.
Jane says, "Maur," and tries to wave her away, but eventually succumbs and listens in, too.
"But why not?" Dylan is saying.
Her coach, a scruffy middle-aged man, responds, "Because you're the best of the best, and there could be college scouts anywhere. Don't tell me you don't want to play for the big leagues."
Maura's eyes widen. Jane puts her finger to her lips.
"I won't say I wouldn't love that, but this singular tournament shouldn't be about showing me off. I can give up a no-hitter or two. Becky hasn't had a chance to pitch all season. She could use the practice and the morale boost. Plus, the other team looks like they're about to cry and it just feels cruel."
Jane's dimples are deep with pride for her daughter. Maura doesn't understand half of what was said, but she thinks she's proud, too.
And then Dylan adds, "Besides, I don't need softball to get me into college. That's what school is for."
Dylan's out while Becky pitches the next inning, and the second she rounds the corner to check out the snack stand, she is tackled by two very proud parents.
"Ah! Stop with the hugging already! Geez!" She shrugs out of their arms and fixes her visor.
They stand with their arms around each other, Jane's draped across Maura's shoulders, and Maura's around Jane's waist. They smile at their daughter.
"Did you get oranges?" Dylan asks Maura.
"Yes. And you may go to the party," Maura says.
"Really?" Dylan looks at Jane.
"Is this because I just pitched a virtual no-hitter?"
"Nooo," Jane says, "though that definitely doesn't hurt, Ms. Speed Demon." She throws her other arm around Dylan's shoulder and together, the three women walk toward the snack stand.
Maura wakes just past midnight to the vibration of her cell phone. The photo on the screen is of Jane kissing Dylan on the cheek at Dylan's 8th grade graduation. Maura sits up in bed.
"Are you okay?"
Yeah. Don't like, freak out, okay? Can you just come get me?
"Text me the address. I'm on my way."
Maura pulls on a coat and slippers and, as she walks to the door, texts Jane, who is working late: Dylan called. I'm going to pick her up.
Is she okay?
Not sure. I'll let you know.
Dylan is sitting alone on the curb when Maura pulls up. The house is large and brick and towering over her daughter, who looks tiny and fragile in front of it. Her dark hair blows around her shoulders, and she has her arms wrapped around herself. Her face is dry, but the redness around her eyes indicates she's been crying.
I should have made her bring a jacket, Maura thinks. Parenting 101. Always bring a jacket.
She unlocks the car door and Dylan lets herself in. They drive in silence. Maura travels the roads of her mind, trying to determine the best way to approach conversation with an emotionally unstable sixteen-year-old who has both the temper and heart of her other mother. By the time they pull into the driveway, she still hasn't figured out how or what to say. She puts the car in Park and pulls the keys out of the ignition. All noise is sucked from around them and silence creeps in. She looks at her daughter.
"I broke up with Patrick," Dylan says. Her bottom lip quivers and fresh tears spring to her eyes. She covers her face and bends into her own lap.
"Oh sweetie." Maura unbuckles her seatbelt, leans across the center of the car, and pulls her daughter to her chest. She rubs her back as Dylan shakes into her. "Why don't I make you some hot chocolate and we can talk. Or, if you don't feel like talking, we can put on a movie, any movie of your choosing. Okay?"
Dylan sits up, sniffles, nods, "Okay."
As Dylan changes into pajamas and Maura waits for the water to boil, Maura pulls out her phone and texts Jane: She broke up with Patrick. Haven't gotten details, but I think she'll talk. We'll be okay. See you in the morning. I love you.
A minute later: Give her a kiss for me. I love you more.
Dylan settles cross-legged in the corner of the couch. She'd put on leggings and one of her mom's old BCU t-shirts. Her make-up is wiped from her face and her hair pulled back.
Maura takes off her robe and sits next to her daughter. She pulls her feet up under her and tries not to study Dylan too closely. They sip their hot chocolate for a few minutes, until Dylan gets up and brings the DVD binder back to the couch. She unzips it so it sits flat in her lap.
"Which of these haven't you seen?" she asks her mom, and flips a page.
"A lot of them."
"Probably all of them."
"Probably most, yes."
Dylan points at a DVD with an image of teenage lovers on the front. "This one's too sad to watch right now. He beats her."
Maura covers her ears in fake surprise. "Ah! Spoiler alert!"
Dylan smiles, "Like you'll ever watch it." She flips a few more pages.
Maura sips her drink.
"That's not what happened. If you're wondering," Dylan says softly. "I mean, he didn't hit me or anything. I know Ma would have him arrested or something."
Maura hums in agreement, and lets the relief sit in for a moment. "Do you want to tell me what did happen?"
Dylan closes the binder and sighs. She shifts in her seat so she's facing her mother a little more, and pushes the side of her head into the comfy couch. "It was stupid," she begins her story. "The whole party was so stupid and I know I shouldn't have gone, but I really just wanted to see what it would be like. It could have been fun, you know?"
"A bunch of Marco's friends were there from college, and some of mine and Patrick's friends, too."
"My and Patrick's friends."
"I'm not going to bond with you if you insist on correcting every grammatical error."
Maura chuckles, "Okay, I'm sorry." She crosses her finger over her chest. "I promise not to correct every grammatical error. There were college kids there…"
"Yeah. Everything was fine. We were like, dancing, and having a good time. Lisa from softball was there, too, and someone made an announcement about our tournament and everyone cheered and it was cool, you know?"
"But then these real jerks showed up. A bunch of Marco's friends. I don't know how drunk they were but they had obviously been drinking. They were egging me on to drink and I didn't want to." Dylan shrugs, looking into her lap. Her fingers hug her mug.
Maura smiles to herself.
"But then they started talking to Patrick, who had been drinking a little bit. And then Patrick started trying to get me to do shots and play beer pong and all these stupid things. He kept saying, like…" Dylan looks up at her mom, who is watching her intently. "Don't get weird about this, okay?"
"I will do my best not to get weird."
Dylan sets her mug on the coffee table and pulls her knees to her chest. She takes in a deep breath and continues. "So, Patrick was like, talking about… having sex. So I said, 'Wouldn't you rather me be sober and totally into you than completely wasted and only kinda into you?' And then I told him about how alcohol intake increases the level of testosterone in a woman and how that controls the strength of her libido, and he just blinked at me and said I was weird."
Maura watches as her daughter's eyes fill quickly. She reaches for the tissues across the coffee table and hands one to her daughter. Dylan's voice rises, increasingly shaky, as tears fall down her face.
"And then his douche friend Jason said, 'Hey, isn't this the chick with the lesbian moms?' And people laughed. And I said, 'Yes, what of it?' And Jason said maybe I was so weird because of my dyke-y mommies." Dylan puts air quotes around the last two words and tries to roll her eyes, but ends up dabbing them with a tissue instead.
Maura's heart is breaking. Her own eyes fill as she watches her daughter struggle through the last part of the story.
"So then I said—I said that I didn't know what my parents had to do with any part of our conversation, and then I congratulated him on being able to rhyme at a first-grade level."
Maura smiles a sad smile as her own tears spill down her cheeks.
"And then I broke up with Patrick."
Dylan lowers her legs and lets herself fall once more into her mother's embrace. She cries into Maura's shoulder for a long time, all the while Maura gently rocks them back and forth, back and forth. She rubs her daughter's back, she soothes her daughter's pain. When Dylan finally pulls away and her blurry eyes adjust to the dim room, she laughs at the softball-sized damp spot on Maura's silk top.
"Don't worry about it, sweetie. I am very proud of you. You know that, right?"
Dylan sniffs and tosses a few wads of tissue onto the coffee table. "Yeah. Do you still wanna watch a movie?"
Maura smiles. "Let's watch a movie."
The sun is fading from a gray lavender to a light blue by the time Jane arrives home holding a box of Sunday morning's best donuts—Dylan's favorites—to find her two beauties asleep on the couch. Dylan is curled in the fetal position with her head on the arm rest. Maura's pillow is on Dylan's bent legs.
"How did I get so lucky," she whispers.