Michelle De Santa's age was catching up with her.
She squinted at herself in the mirror, her eyes focusing on the wrinkles in the corners of her eyes, the laugh lines around her mouth that seemed to have become deeper over the last few years. She needed another session with her surgeon. Another consultation. There had to be something she could do, surely.
"Your age is catching up with you, Michelle," her therapist had warned her. "You really need to start making time for therapy." The words rattled around in her brain, bouncing off the walls of her skull. She wasn't getting old. She wasn't letting herself get old.
She pulled back, turning to the side and examining her physical shape. She'd gone a long time looking nothing like she'd had two kids, but ever since the move to Los Santos, she'd put on a little bit of weight. Not too much, she kept telling herself a little meat on the bone was fine - but it was noticeable. Her breasts looked fantastic, but she had Dr Kormach to thank for those, god knows where they'd be right now if she hadn't had surgical intervention. Her lips had thinned out a little, but again, she'd had those taken care of when she started noticing grey hairs amongst her brown locks. A bit of dye and some plumping never hurt anyone.
"Moooom!" A voice shouted from the hall, her son's voice making her jolt out of her self-imposed session of critique. "Jenny said I have a…" Tyler's voice trailed off for a second. "Jenny called me an asshole!"
Michelle gave a sigh, rolling her eyes, not responding to her son's complaints. She needed a nap. Or just some quiet. Hell, she needed a time machine and some condoms. She gently opened her door a crack, peeking out to make sure neither of her precious angels were in the hall, before softly and silently sneaking out and down the stairs. Sneaking past her own children. This is what her life had come to. Jesus christ.
Not in the mood for any conversation - or, more realistically, any kind of screaming match - she made a beeline for the garage. Jenny had, without asking her permission or advice, had gone ahead and bought a new car. Seeing as Michelle's name was the one on the credit card she'd used, she was more entitled to take a nap in it, far away from the screaming of her offspring.
"Amazing, Mr De Santa!" She could hear her husband's tennis coach's crisp, valley girl accent from the bottoms of the stairs - and while Michelle tried her damned best to give her husband the benefit of the doubt, she couldn't stand his coach. Adam, despite their passionate beginnings, hadn't exactly always been the most loyal of husbands, although Michelle hadn't been the most loyal of wives either, in all honesty. Michelle had seen the kind of woman he preferred to her. Fit. Pretty. Red hair. Young. But, she couldn't really deny her husband of his private tennis lessons, either. "I'm an athlete, Michelle," he'd argue. "Why would you have married an athlete if you didn't want me to keep doing what I love? I need to do something." If she'd known he was going to be so high-maintenance when she'd met him, she might have thought twice about marrying the guy.
But, she'd married the up-and-coming footballer in their youth and now she was stuck with him, especially after they went into witness protection, after which it became just as much about how he was stuck with her now. Sure, Michelle and Adam loved each other, that's why she did what she did to get them where they were - but Adam had to give up his - admittedly failing - career, too. That was probably where it started going sour. Adam finding her in bed with Tyler's high school football coach was where it went from sour to rotten, though - that was definitely her own fault.
Trying her best to block the sound of her husband's foxy little coach guiding him through his volley, Michelle snuck into the garage and opened the door of Jenny's new car. Jenny, Jenny, Jenny. Sweet, naive, awkward Jenny. This car was worth way less than what she was paying. Michelle had seen the paperwork - the paperwork that her socially awkward daughter had neglected to look over. Of course, Michelle didn't entirely blame her. Her parents had obviously made a huge mistake somewhere that resulted in her sealing herself up in her room with videogames all day, so uncomfortable around new people that some sleazy car salesman could bully her into signing a document without even reading it first. Michelle laid her head down, thinking about her daughter, wondering where she went wrong. You're not supposed to have expectations of your children, she knew that, but she'd hoped Jenny would… be different. Friendlier. Happier.
Michelle had been a cheerleader in highschool, a pageant queen, singer, dancer, actress, you name it. She was meant to end up with either a spot on the red carpet or a rich husband on her arm. Of course, that required opportunities she didn't exactly get. Sure, she was pretty and charming, but she didn't have the money needed to climb the pageant circuit past state level or the money to become a full time cheerleader. It got to a point where she had two options - porn or crime. Crime seemed to have more opportunities down the track and less old man dick involved.
So, when she held Jenny in her arms, she wanted her daughter to have what she didn't, the opportunities her parents couldn't provide her. Michelle could give her any opportunities she could have possibly wanted - but Jenny didn't seem to want any. Instead, Jenny dyed her hair some fucking stupid color - Michelle wasn't sure what it was this week, but last time she'd seen her it had been blue - put metal in her face, smoked weed alone and played video games all. Day. And that's not to say Michelle hadn't tried, she had. She'd tried taking her out, taking her to the beach, enrolling her in dance classes. But Jenny would just shy away, avoiding eye contact, pretending to text on her phone. It was almost like Jenny didn't want to make new friends. Or get a job. Or achieve anything worthwhile.
Jenny's brother, on the other hand, was an entirely different matter. Tyler was beyond Michelle's control. All he wanted to do, apparently, was lift weights, drink, take party drugs and fuck random girls. Despite his mother's insistence he go to college or get a real job, Tyler wouldn't have a bar of it. Oh no. He had a 'fitness program' to launch, and nightclubs to promote. Or some shit. Michelle couldn't fucking keep up anymore. At least she could get a word in with Jenny, or try to pretend she understood her a little. Tyler? Talking to Tyler was like talking to someone in a completely different language. He wasn't the little boy she used to watch eat grubs he found under their trailer anymore, dirt smeared all over his chubby little cheeks anymore. Oh no.
Then again, she wasn't a 23-year-old anymore, either. She used to have command over herself, command over her life. A hot, fit-as-hell husband who adored her, two gorgeous young children who thought the world of their parents instead of seeing them as an inconvenience, friends who'd die for her - and who she'd die for, too. She used to rob banks, shoot people, do whatever she wanted to without remorse, always outsmarting the police, keeping one step ahead. Empowered was the word. That's was she was. Empowered.
And now she was trying to nap in the back seat of her daughter's car, hiding from her own family.
She threw a blanket over herself, closing her eyes, drifting off - but only lightly, trying to send her mind to that 'happy place within' her therapist kept talking about. The best she could come up with was an island in the middle of nowhere with limitless alcohol and an array of hot, shirtless, ripped-as-hell, 20-something-year-old guys. For a while, she remained there, her mind eventually wandering in it's half-sleep to the old days. To life before Los Santos.
And then, the car moved, and her eyes opened.
At first, Michelle opened her mouth to protest, to tell Jenny to let her out before she went somewhere. But when her eyes settled on the women in the driver's seat who obviously hadn't noticed that there was a person under that blanket in the back seat, she felt her blood boil. It wasn't Jenny. It wasn't anyone she even knew.
She might have lost control of her life, but as Michelle reached into the waistband of her pants and settled her hand on the handle of her pistol, she decided that she was going to keep control of her garage. At the very least.