Mom’s Ripple Effect (Extended)


Writer’s Note: This is a rewritten and expanded version of my original story, part of my effort to update early work. All sexually involved characters are 18 or older.

Originally Published: February 2019

Republished: September 2022



“Go, Abigail, go! You got this, Abi! C’mon!”

Screams and cowbells rang out into the brisk April morning. The grass glistened with dew as blue haze thickened with misty breaths.

A crowd, numbering in the thousands, stood along the bank of the swiftly moving river. The Schuylkill was choppy and cresting, as it had been for more than two hours.

Colored tents and banners fluttered in the wind, stretching down the bank for as far as the eye could see. The canopies served as the only refuge from the elements, filled with mountains of packaged food next to tables of portable coffee makers.

Above, gray crowds hung in the low sky, encouraging the tired eyes to look up and wonder when the freezing rain would finally be unleashed.

For most, this was an unbearable way to spend a Saturday morning. But for parents of high school rowers, such as Heather Gaines, it was tradition, almost looked upon affectionately. Almost.

Every fifteen minutes, a row of racing shells would glide through the choppy water, spanning the width of the river. Be it a crew of eight, four, two, or one, the rowers grunted, braving the splash of their oars on their strained faces and soaked bodies.

Each stroke demanded the young athletes dig and pull with all their might, as any meter could decide a place, and placing well enough would earn them the right to advance in the regatta tournament.

Meanwhile, the parents were left to watch, helplessly looking down from the walled embankment, with cottage boat houses downriver and the towers of the Philadelphia skyline poking above the trees in the haze behind them.

Most parents were regular folks, visiting the races to cheer on their children in a sport they vaguely understood. Other parents, such as Heather Gaines, were as competitive and knowledgeable as the teens rowing.

Not a yeller nor a chanter, Heather liked to stand on the very edge of the stone wall, muttering beneath her binoculars as the boats went by.

Even so, she was not considered among the craziest or most competitive mothers on the team. That honor belonged to a handful of others, who were not apologetic about their nature.

In the world of elite private schools, such as Gladwyne Prep, parents’ egos were often tied to the fortunes of their privileged children. And in this way, the Gaines family was different.

Far from rich and even farther from wealthy, the Gaineses needed the steep discount from Richard being one of the four rowing coaches just so he and Heather could afford their son’s tuition. Although, the investment was about to pay off.

Now a senior at Gladwyne, Paul started rowing at ten when he would go to work with his dad after school to fill in for high school students who were absent from practice. In time, he not only became a great rower but was in line for an incredible opportunity — a choice of full college scholarships.

While thrilled and humbled by every college offer he received, his heart was set on Princeton. And his mom Heather knew it.

She wasn’t as guilty as other moms of steering her son’s career, but she did believe he inherited his drive from her and wanted to see him reach his full potential, as any mother would. And so, this weekend was important.

In all of high school rowing, no boat was more iconic or prestigious than the Varsity Eight. The full crew of eight rowers and one small coxswain represented the best of the school and competed for the most prized trophies in the most renowned races.

Of Gladwyne’s eight, five had already committed to Ivy League schools. And Paul was not one of them. Despite years of hard work both on the water and in the classroom, he was on the outside looking in.

Heather wanted her son to live his dreams and get the world-class education nobody in their family had before. But she also selfishly wanted to silence the few miserable wenches on the team sideline.

“It’s okay, Heather, I’m sure he’ll get one. Coaches get more desperate to fill their rosters later in the season. Paul will be fine. It happens every year.”

“Yeah, scholarship commitments fall through all the time. Around May and June, once other rowers start backing out, they’ll definitely give Paul a look.”

“A friend of mine told me Cornell is still looking. But, hey, even if they aren’t, it’s not like rowing for a state school is that bad.”

Those “veiled” insults were infuriating, and Heather was at wit’s end, but had to bite her tongue. For who was she but the mother of the poor family and the coach’s wife?

If it weren’t for her husband’s power over their children and her comely looks, she doubted the group would even tolerate her.

And Girne Escort while not as bad as it seemed, she was aware that lashing out just once in her defense would earn her the label of a jealous, crazy woman.

“They don’t give a shit about you. They won’t even look at you half the time. Face it, you’re low status.

Yeah, when they need a favor for their douchey kid, then it’s all… Oh, Heather, it’s so great to see you! How are you? Oh, yeah… Wait… To Rich’s wife, aren’t you? Well, since I’m here anyway, my smartass son Billy is such a strong rower and I feel if he were in the front of the boat, blah, blah, blah.”

Her rants in the bathtub on river days tended to begin along those lines.

However, in the defense of those meddling parents, seating positions were a huge deal. Rowers on the bow or stern were considered to be the most skilled oarsmen and were more sought after by college scouts.

It was the reason parents sat near Heather and socialized with her like a dear, old friend whenever their child raced. They would comment loudly, “We just can’t seem to compete like we used to. Hmm… I wonder if we move Charles to the back of the boat if we’d pick up a few seconds?” Heather’s naked reenactments in the bathtub were barely satire.

Of course, the great irony of it all — what every one of the greedy parents was too self-centered and blind to see — was that if she had so much influence over her husband, why did Paul spend the last two seasons in the middle of the boat?

Whenever she tried to get Paul moved, her proposal went the same way:

“Honey, you have to do this. Just try Paul out in the stern. We’re not like them, those WASPy families who can buy their kid’s way into Harvard. Seriously, you should hear some of them brag about their donations. It sounds like a dick measuring contest. You’d think they’d be embarrassed about buying their kid’s way into school, but no, they brag about it! They talk about it like it’s an accomplishment.”

And then Rich would always pinch the bridge of his nose and explain his position.

“Babe… you gotta stop doing this. Stop. Please. I gotta do whatever it takes to make the boat go the fastest. Period. I set my lineup based on rowing machine times and weight. That’s it. That’s how every halfway decent coach in the country does it. So, I can’t change it. Just imagine, for two seconds, that I showed Paul special treatment. Hell, just imagine if one of the parents even thinks I did. Can you Imagine that hell?”

It was a good excuse, one Heather had grown skeptical of over the last year. As Paul increased his weight and lowered his rowing times, his position remained the same. And while mothers like Mary and Gretchen gloated about their sons “leading the boat,” Paul outperformed them in practice.

During the summer, Heather went down a paranoid hole, going as far as reviewing her husband’s accounts to see if he had taken bribes from parents. And, frankly, given their debts, she probably would’ve understood. But there was no evidence of anything other than them being poor.

Later though, in August, Heather was in the passenger seat of their minivan, looking out the window as Rich drove them home from Target. A pop sounded from his mounted smartphone, and the notification showed the text from Gretchen:

It’s almost the official rowing season again!!! I hope you’re excited… I know I am 😉

The message could have had many meanings. And it was common for her husband to text parents. But Heather could never forget the hollow twisting in her gut as her husband frantically swiped the pop-up from the screen.

Sometimes at night, Heather would walk downstairs and sit in the dark alone, wondering why she pretended to see nothing. Maybe it allowed her to pity the women who looked down on her for a change. Maybe she didn’t want to believe that a woman like Gretchen could entice her husband and captivate him sexually like she she could. Or maybe she was simply afraid of what she’d have to do if her gut feeling was true.

Regardless, that was a conversation for after Paul was safely away at Princeton. Then the outcome didn’t matter. And none of that mattered now, not on this important weekend on the river.

*** Time Trial ***

The white ball. There was only the white ball.

The stinging wind, the unforgiving seat, and the endless rocking all narrowed into a singular sensation, concentrated on one point — the white ball at the tip of the sleek, blue shell.

Paul steadily breathed, keeping his warmth and holding still on the sliding seat. His body was forward, arms outstretched while grasping the oars, and toes wiggling.

A skin-tight singlet of blue polyester was his only protection against the elements. But the uniform was practically no more than thick boxer briefs sewn to an elastic tank top.

Although his arms, thighs, and face were red and splotchy, the coursing adrenaline within him numbed Magosa Escort his skin to any sensations other than the white ball and the sound of the race organizer’s voice through the megaphone on the nearby floating stage.

“Hoo…” His feet rattled against the velcroed shoes.

From far away, Paul was no more than a blob of blue and beige, crowned with brown, in Heather’s binoculars. This race was unlike any before, as it was the first time her son would row not in the Variety Eight but a single scull.

It had been her who persuaded Paul and Rich to make the switch, with the idea it would help him better stand out to scouts. But now, she could only watch and hope she hadn’t set him up for failure.

Certain parents had already assured her it was “okay that Paul didn’t make the boat for this tournament.” But she ignored them, choosing to believe in her son. Not that there was much of a choice.

After the massive investment of money, time, energy, and emotion into Paul’s rowing career, he would certainly race well in this time trial, earn a top speed, and win an ideal lane for the first heat of tournament races.

He had to.

Down where Heather stood, the beginning of the race was always a surprise. Even the starting pistol was out of earshot. But following her smartwatch like a hawk, she knew it was only a matter of seconds now.

Tapping her toes in her wool-lined boots, which stuck just over the edge of the embankment wall, she muttered to herself beneath her binoculars. “C’mon, c’mon, c’mon… The faster you finish, the faster you can put a coat on.” A common rowing joke.

And fast Paul was. Heather sprung at the sight of his moving oars, spraying white mist as his shell sliced through the rough waters. Her copper waves bounced against her back, as she was more animated than usual, seeing her son separate from the chaotic wall of other rowers. Never had he rowed so well in these conditions.

By the time he glided past her on his way to the finish line, he was low on power but too far ahead to be caught.

Now with her binoculars around her neck, Heather watched her son crank his oars with every soaked muscle of his body while his open mouth breathed fire like an angry dragon.

Once he crossed the line, human nature compelled Heather to look up at the electronic scoreboard to see where her son ranked, but she chose not to, knowing her son had done well enough.

Happily smiling for her son, she waited for him to disappear to the exit dock behind the bridge before turning around to face the other parents. Most were excited, but the club of the most vocal parents was silent, all looking ahead with ambivalence or forcing their wretched lips to curl a smile.

“6:11!” Paul cheered, hurrying into the crowd of parents in front of the team canopy. “I think I’ll get a good lane!”

Heather danced and clapped for her son before hugging him on the grassy bank. These were her favorite moments as a mother because no matter how tall or mature Paul was, he always ran across the field to hug her and celebrate with her after a big race.

“Gah! I’m so happy for you, honey. You were amazing out there!”

“Thanks! Dad said I went too hard at the start. And he’s probably right. But it went really well overall.”

“I’d say so!” Heather said, noticing the goosebumps on his freezing arms and rubbing them with her jacket sleeves. “You should get a coat on, mister.”

“Mom, I’m fine,” he laughed. “I was just out there for half an hour.”

Heather’s green eyes flashed open, and she pulled away from the hug. After glancing at the onlooking parents, she swallowed and smiled again. “Well, I’m sure you wanna go get food, so… I won’t hold ya up!”

Her son chuckled, then vanished into the flaps of the canopy, leaving her to sink into her camping chair, holding her face.

She had panicked over nothing. It was a simple hug. But the fear was sometimes hard to control. These moments were rare, but when they struck, it was like a cold hand gripped her heart and stole the breath from her lungs.

It always lasted for an instant, more than enough to send her back to a dark place and terrify her again of a closed book being reopened.

Even now, months later, the events of Paul’s eighteenth birthday were burned into her memory like stills on a film reel.


It was January, and Heather and Rich had to go to New York to visit an ill cousin in the hospital. So, they decided to use the trip as an opportunity for a romantic getaway as well.

They had repeatedly told Paul not to throw a party while they were away, so, naturally, Heather knew he’d throw one.

While far from a bad child, Paul was a boy turning eighteen. So, not wanting their home to become a teenage wasteland or for their son to spend the night in handcuffs for underage drinking after neighbors inevitably called the police, Heather and Rich decided she would sneakily drive home Saturday afternoon Kıbrıs Escort to quash any party plans.

However, when Heather got home, there were signs of a party. Or Paul. And after two hours of waiting, it became clear that he had gone out with friends instead.

So, Heather shed her blouse and pants in favor of the comfy pajamas she had brought for the night and put on a movie. It then hit her that just because her romantic weekend had been canceled, her satisfaction didn’t have to be. “I need to fucking cum,” she giggled.

With the spirit of a horny teen home alone, she scampered into her bedroom and opened her nightstand. She shoved her flannel pajama bottoms down her creamy thighs and pushed the humming vibrator against her pussy lips. “Ahhh!” Her toes curled in the carpet.

The pink metal glistened with her juices as she fell back onto the bed and worked herself into a high. She watched the toy slide between the folds of her lips, smelling the sweet scent of her sex that rose into her nostrils.

Spreading her skinny legs wide, she challenged herself to see how dirty she could feel. And before long, she was on her knees digging through her nightstand again, now in search of her other sex toy — the one hidden far within to protect her husband’s ego.

“There we go,” she said, naughtily biting her lip, gripping the large, beige dildo. It had been too long.

She then stole away to the guest room, planting the suction-cup toy on a familiar and trusty plastic chair. When she sat down, her eyes flew open and watered, and a shaky moan escaped her lips.

Inch by inch, her pussy welcomed the silicone shaft until her butt rested on the cold plastic. “Whew!” She proudly grinned. “Fucking hell.”

After a wipe of her forehead and a toss of her long, copper waves, she swirled her hips and helped her body remember the pressure of her favorite toy. Then, it was time to ride.

Up and down, all five feet and eight inches of her freely bounced and turned a pinkish hue. Her muscles clenched, tissue bobbed, and vision grew blurry as her right hand held her vibrator to her clit for even more pleasure.

The endless buzz, wet smacking, and strangled moans filled the room. The only question was how much intensity she could endure before squirting all over the chair.


The door rattled, and Heather gaped at the open frame, her hooded, green eyes bulging at her son in the doorway. A can fell from his hand, spilling beer on the carpet, but his drunken brown eyes were saucers, locked onto her.

She sunk back down to the base of the sex toy, numb and speechless. She stared at him, his sharp chin hanging, frozen in time. Then the top of his shorts pushed out toward her, and she gaped.

She knew he could see her naked from the waist down, the two toys on her soaking mound, her flesh sparkling with sex sweat, and her tits braless in a white V-neck. But she told herself his erection was the mindless reaction of a drunk teenager.

It had to be.

For what felt like thirty seconds, they sat in silence before Heather’s fog lifted and she screamed, “Go! Get out!”

Paul ran away, slamming the door behind him. And it was then that she heard the rowdy voices and music from the living room. No matter how she had missed the party arriving at the house, she would stay in the guest room until morning.

In the weeks that followed, Heather lived as if nothing had happened. And, luckily, her son did the same, with the lone consequence being his lingering eyes.

After enough time had passed, she suggested to a friend that Paul and her daughter go on a date to “get ’em out of the house a bit more.”

While the relationship didn’t last long, it managed to straighten her son’s mind and eyes.


Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! The clatter of cowbells in the wind brought Heather back, sitting up in her camping chair.

You’re fine. Breathe it out. And take a chill pill, okay? You have to stop doing this to yourself, Heather. He’s not gonna get confused again because of a hug at a crew race. Your problems weren’t caused by you doing normal mom shit. They happened because he caught you riding a fake dick half-naked in front of his face.

Besides, he dates Inez. And whatever she did to him, he’s moved past you now and everything’s peaceful. So let it go.

What was it mom always said? Mines only explode if you go poking around with a stick?

Standing up from the camping chair, she cracked her back and moseyed to the embankment wall just as raindrops began to splatter on the stone and make the river ripple before her.

*** First Heat ***

The storm passed, muddying the ground but leaving behind a blue sky. The wind still brought a chill, but the rays of the spring sun gave the illusion of warmth. And that was enough.

Heather checked her smartwatch amidst cheering for other Gladwyne crews. Paul was likely warming up and going over strategy with his dad at the team trailer upstream now.

Whenever he left for the launch dock, her shoulder blades tightened and her eyes became addicted to her watch. And today was worse, with not just a regatta trophy but a trip to Nationals on the line, where Paul would race before top college coaches.

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