The Game – Chapter 16 Mary’s Story
We pulled up in front of Rachel’s house at about 4:15 in the afternoon. Rachel was grinning as the car came to a stop and said, “Thanks for having me do this in person. I am so excited.”
I smiled and pulled the keys from the ignition and said, “No problem Rachel. Your parents are going to be so proud of you. Now let’s go!”
Rachel giggled and bounded from the car and half skipped up the patio and into the house. I followed a step behind her.
“Hello?” the tentative voice of my sister came from the kitchen as we entered unannounced.
“Hi Mom!” Rachel squealed and ran into the kitchen.
Mary, Rachel’s mother and my sister, was standing behind the kitchen island with a cutting board of half chopped vegetables in front of her. She wore a red bikini top and wrap around sarong.
Her eyes were wide at our unexpected appearance. “Rachel, Sara, what are you doing here?” she asked coming to Rachel and giving her a quick hug. “Is everything OK?”.
I smiled at my sister and she relaxed a bit and turned to her daughter who was grinning with joy. Rachel said, “Everything is GREAT MOM. I have some news I wanted to share in person is all.”
Mary moved and gave me a quick hug and said, “I can’t believe you are here. This is such a nice surprise.”
“Where’s Dad?” Rachel asked looking around.
“Well honey he had to work this weekend. He is on a trip for work and won’t be back until Sunday or Monday.”
A shadow of disappointment flitted across Rachel’s face and I thought, ‘since when does Richard travel?’
Mary was leading both Rachel and I to sit in the living room as she spoke. “Well you Dad got a bit of a promotion last month and is helping at the corporate office.” Mary said ambiguously.
“That sucks. I was hoping to tell you both in person.” Rachel said.
“Tell us what honey, what is going on?”. Rachel’s face once again glowed with happiness as she slid the offer letter from her firm out of her back pocket. “Well I got this for the work I did this summer.” Rachel said grinning and handing the letter to her mother.
Mary took the letter confused and unfolded it. Slowly she began to read. Rachel could not stop grinning and I found myself smiling as I watched my sister’s face.
First she squinted as if confused and then her eyes retraced the sentences. Finally her eyes went wide and her mouth dropped open. For a moment she didn’t speak; she just stared at Rachel and then at me and then back to Rachel.
Finally she said, “Is this a joke? If it is I am going to kill both of you.”
Rachel laughed and said, “It’s real Mom.”
I laughed along with her as Mary’s eyes moved to me as if she could not quite believe Rachel. “No joke.” I said smiling.
Mary turned back to Rachel and squealed with delight and threw her arms around her daughter. She hugged her fiercely as the excitement washed over her. After a moment they parted as Rachel said, “Jeez Mom your killing me.”
Tears stood out in Mary’s eyes and she couldn’t help pulling Rachel back for another quick hug. “I am so fucking proud of you.” Mary said as she separated from her daughter for a second time.
Rachel was smiling and said, “So when did you start saying that word?”
Mary blinked and laughed and said, “I always say I am ‘proud’ of you Rachel”.
We all laughed and Rachel gushed, “It’s so cool Mom. I can’t wait for school to start.”
Mary finally stood and said, “Sara thank you so much for what you have done for Rachel.”
I smiled and said, “No problem sis. Besides she did most of it herself.”
I joined them both for another quick hug and we all ended up hopping up and down in a little dance, arm in arm in the middle of the living room. If anyone saw us, they would have though we had lost our minds. And for a moment we were crazy with happiness.
When we finally stopped hugging and congratulating Rachel, Mary finally said, “Shit we have to call you father right now. He is going to be so pissed he is out of town.”
She was already dialing when Rachel glanced at me grinning. I gave her a thumbs up and sat down on the couch to give Rachel some time with her mother and father albeit across a phone line.
As Rachel and Mary called Richard, I noticed two things. The first was that in the few months since I had last visited the house had been remodeled or at least refurnished. The second thing was that Mary had lost at least 15 pounds and looked absolutely gorgeous. She literally looked like an older version of her daughter. I thought to myself, ‘Guess being an empty nester young is agreeing with you.’
My sister was 6 years my senior at 42, but looked as good if not better than I did, and I had not had a child. Something had changed here. The couch I was sitting on was new and while I was not a furniture expert, I knew it had to cost at least 2000.00 dollars retail.
I also noticed little differences. The picture frames of the family had been replaced from the Target model to a gold leafed higher end version. Escort Çankaya Even the knife my sister had used to chop the vegetables was new and not the kind you bought for 20 bucks at Walmart.
My sister and Richard were not cheap, but neither were they flamboyant with their money. The best description of them would be financially conservative or frugal. I knew Richard made a significant salary at his company, but my sister had told me that they were ‘banking every penny’ they could into a retirement account.
Now it looked like they were ‘upgrading’ a lot of household items all at once. Again I felt something had changed fundamentally here, and I made a note to myself to ask my sister.
When the phone call ended Rachel’s Dad was appropriately impressed and proud of her accomplishment. I felt a tinge of regret for him in not being here. Mary turned to Rachel and I and said, “We need to celebrate. I was planning on making a salad for dinner, but how about lobster instead.”
I laughed and said, “Lobster rocks where are we going?”
Mary grinned and said, “How about the grill. We can talk and I will cook. I have three Maine lobsters in the freezer.”
Rachel said, “Ewwww. You know I hate seafood. Can I just have a burger or something?”
Mary and I both laughed and she said, “Whatever you want college girl.”
Mary went to the freezer and pulled out two lobster tails that looked to be the size of a small car and a burger for Rachel. She put them under running water to thaw and I wonder, ‘ who in the hell keeps a Maine lobster tail in their freezer?’.
Rachel turned to her mother and said, “You cook. I need to shower; I feel icky from the drive.” She winked at me and turned to go upstairs. She paused and turned to Mary and asked, “Mind if I use your shower mom?”.
Mary shrugged and said, “Sure if you want.” And turned back to the lobsters.
“Anything I can do to help?” I asked.
Mary turned to me and said, “Pour us some wine. I am so happy right now.”
I smiled and went to the refrigerator. Inside I found a bottle of Pinot. The price tag was still on the label and read, ‘49.99’.
I took out the bottle and set it on the counter and said, “So sis, what the hell is up?”
Mary turned to me with a confused look and said, “what?”
I smiled and said, “Well there is a new couch, new picture frames, a 50 dollar bottle of wine and lobster in your fridge. The last time I checked you were not a lottery winner.”
Mary glanced around her home and then said with a good natured laugh, “Damn you and your intuition.”
“Seriously sis, what gives?” I asked.
“Okay fine. Richard’s company got bought out and he got a new job. I am not sure I understand all the details, but the gist is that he was asked to lead a new division by the acquiring firm at nearly 300% is current salary, and they bought out his stock options. We, well I should say he, made a killing.”
I grinned and said, “No shit that’s great. Sounds like things are going well for you.”
Mary beamed at me and said, “It’s like no other time in my life Sara. I mean Richard is making tons more money than we ever thought possible, and since Rachel moved out, things are better than ever between us.”
I smiled and then Mary’s face frowned and she said, “That sounded horrible didn’t it. I didn’t mean that Rachel was a problem. It’s just that since she has been gone, Richard and I have kind of re-met.”
I nodded and said, “Sis, I understand and I am happy for you. It’s only natural you would find some freedom after raising a daughter as amazing as Rachel.”
She nodded and said, “I miss her terribly, but I also love the flexibility Richard and I have found. Does that make sense?”
“Perfect sense” I said with conviction.
Mary smiled and handed me the wine bottle opener and two glasses. I popped the cork and poured us half the bottle in the two oversized glasses.
“So tell me sis,” I said. “When did this all happen?”
Mary grinned and took a sip of wine and said, “About two months ago, we found out. I remember the first paycheck he got at his new salary. He brought it home in cash to show me.”
I laughed and said, “Like a cat with a dead mouse.”
She smiled and said, “Exactly. It was 21,042.42 after taxes and he spread it out all over our bed in 100 dollar bills.”
I laughed and said, “Wow that is some bank.”
She grinned and whispered conspiratorially, “Money must be an aphrodisiac, because he took me on top of all that money….. Twice.”
I giggled and said, “You whore.”.
She laughed and took another drink of wine and said, “If I am I like it. We have been like rabbits lately.”
I grinned and said, “Good for you.”
She smiled and then her smile faded and she said, “I am so lucky Sara. I remember what I was like a long time ago. I thank God every day I got out of that life.”
I nodded soberly and said, “I’m glad you are happy.”
She grinned and said, “I am glad you are here. Maybe we can find time to talk Çankaya Escort this weekend since Richard is gone. Besides I want to hear about your beef cake.”
“Sure.” I replied smiling. And then she turned back to dinner.
* * * * * * * *
Rachel came down stairs with wet hair wearing a white terry cloth robe. Mary and I were sitting at the outside patio table when she came out. We were on our second glass of wine. Rachel smiled and said, “Can one of you get my bag out of the car? I would, but I don’t think I should be flashing the neighborhood my first day back.”
We both laughed and Mary said, “We can get it after dinner. It’s just us girls and the food is almost ready.”
Rachel smiled and said, “K. Can I have a glass of wine?”
Mary nodded to an empty wine glass sitting in the center of the table and said, “Sure, I brought you a glass out.”
I watched the exchange and while the casual observer would not have noticed anything amiss, I caught something flash between mother and daughter. Mary, by bringing out the glass had communicated to her daughter that she was now an adult and would be treated accordingly. Rachel for her part smiled and sat down between us as an equal. It was a small thing, but the world changes on small things, and I suspected that both mother and daughter just took a huge step in their relationship.
The three of us sat talking about nothing in particular and drinking wine. We ate a tremendous meal together. After we ate, Mary cleared the table and I got our bags. Rachel was helping her mom put things away in the kitchen when I came back.
I heard Mary ask, “So dating anyone interesting Rachel?”
I stopped to listen. Rachel replied casually, “Nobody seriously. A few guys from school.”
My heart was racing and praying that Rachel didn’t say anything that might inspire her mother to ask me about her love life. Mary could be as perceptive as Rachel.
“Nobody special at all?” Mary pressed.
Rachel stopped loading the dishwasher and turned to her mother who was watching her closely. Confused Rachel said, “No Mom. Why the third degree?”
Mary considered Rachel for a moment and I could see her filtering the conversation through the parental lie detector that I believe every mother is issued at birth.
Satisfied she shrugged and said, “Well when you were loading the dishwasher your robe flashed open for a second and I couldn’t help but notice that you have shaved yourself.”
I was now standing at the far end of the kitchen watching the exchange from just inside the hallway. No one appeared to have noticed me yet. Rachel’s face went crimson and she said, “Er I…. Um… well…”
Mary smiled and said, “ER-I-UM-Well? Is that even a word?”
At the same moment Rachel and Mary burst out laughing together. I sighed feeling as if I was in a boat that just missed an ice-burg.
Mary then said, “It’s okay Rachel, I know a lot of younger women shave like that. I was just curious if a guy inspired you. I have never known if you have done that before.”
Rachel shook her head and said, “No mom. Not for a guy, and I promise to wear underwear from now on. Jeez.”
At that Mary laughed again. This time harder and said, “Well I do recommend it if your father is home. You might give him a heart attack.”
We were all laughing now. The way only three women can after a few glasses of wine. It was conspiratorial laughter and I imagined that we might have our first girl’s night ever that included Rachel as an equal.
Rachel was blushing so hard now, I thought her face might explode.
I joined the two women and Rachel said, “I need to change and took her bag from me and bolted up the stairs to her room.”
Mary was still giggling and I wondered if she was a little drunk.
I was not drunk, but had a pleasant wine buzz going, but the adrenaline off overhearing the conversation had sobered me considerably.
Mary turned to me and said, “So did you know about that?”
I sighed and said, “Pour me another wine, and yes I knew. And, don’t worry she isn’t whoring herself on the streets of Chicago.”
Mary looked at me hard for a minute and said, “I never said she was, but let’s face it, did you ever shave your pussy for anyone that didn’t have a pair of testicles?”
I laughed in spite of myself and said, “Well no, but I do kind of like it. It may have been a guy that got me to try it, but I do prefer to keep it that way.”
Mary grinned and whispered, “Me too, but don’t you dare tell anyone.”
I laughed and said, “Relax on Rachel. This is embarrassing for her, and lots of women her age shave. She is young but not that young. You know.”
Mary sighed opening a new bottle of wine and said, “I know, I just don’t want her to act like I did at that age.”
I nodded and said, “She is not anywhere near like you, but if you are that worried talk to her about it. She will listen to you.”
Mary looked at me for a moment and sighed. “You know you are right. I have been so worried about Çankaya Escort Bayan her that I forgot to talk to her. I’m a fucking idiot.”
I smiled at Mary and said, “You know this is the first time since forever that we have even talked about the old days so don’t be too hard on yourself for not telling your teenage daughter about them. Okay?”
Mary smiled and said, “Thanks sis. You are the best. I am still learning how to have a nearly grown daughter and those days were hard on me.”
“They were hard on all of us, but I know what you mean.” I replied.
Mary sighed and hoisted her wine glass and said, “To putting the past in the past.”
I raised my glass and clinked it to hers.
Rachel walked in dressed in a pair of shorts and t-shirt as we clinked glasses.
“What are you two toasting to?” she asked.
Mary turned and said, “To you dear. Get a glass and let’s go out on the patio.”
* * * * * * * * *
We took up our respective positions around the round table with Rachel between Mary and I. I sat back as an observer as I knew this was Mary’s show. We sat quietly for a moment and Mary stared reflectively off into the early summer evening.
She took a sip of wine and said, “Rachel I am sorry if I embarrassed you earlier.”
Rachel nodded quickly and said, “It’s okay Mom, I just….”
Mary raised her hand and cut off Rachel. “This is hard for me honey so please just listen.”
Rachel fell silent and I took a sip of wine knowing Mary was conflicted but also determined.
Mary sighed and continued. “Rachel, you are nearly grown and this is a long over due discussion. I want to tell you some things about sex and about myself.”
She paused and Rachel squirmed a bit and said, “Mom, I am 19 you really don’t have to tell me about the sperm and egg thing.”
Mary stared at her daughter and then smiled sadly. Her eyes glistened and she said, “Rachel I am not stupid. I know you probably know all about biology and I know you are not a virgin.”
This shut Rachel up as effectively as a slap, which verbally I am sure it felt like one.
Mary continued, “When I was younger than you, I didn’t know shit about sex. Sure I knew the mechanics, but I am talking about something more. You see, I made a mistake because no one ever told me about the important stuff about sex.”
Another sip of wine and thankfully Rachel had the sense to keep her ever loving mouth shut.
“The important thing about sex isn’t mechanical. It isn’t even about the ‘act’ of sex.” Mary began.
Rachel looked curious and a bit confused at the same time.
Mary went on with a deep sigh, “It took me a long time to learn this, but sex mostly happens between your ears. If you have your head straight, it can be immensely pleasurable. If not, it can be devastatingly destructive.” She paused and said, “I know I am not making much sense so I am going to tell you a story.”
Rachel nodded and took a sip of wine. I watched her listening and I could tell she was beginning to listen and starting to see her mother as someone other than her mother for the very first time.
Mary then told her story:
“When I was in high school I met a guy that was older than I was. It was exciting because he had a car and could stay out late and pretty much do anything he wanted. I was infatuated with him. My mother was mortified that I was dating him. I thought it was because he was older, but the real reason was because he was an asshole.
We used to fight about it a lot, and because I was young, stupid, and emotionally unequipped, I was drawn to him. Looking back it was more about pissing off my mom than it was about liking the guy. But he did make me feel ‘special’, and I liked that feeling.
I was a pretty rebellious teen as your Aunt may have shared, but it went way beyond rebellion with me. I also had a part of me that really didn’t like myself that much and at that age self loathing, a rebellious steak, and complete sexual ignorance is a recipe for disaster.”
Another sigh and sip of wine. Mary was staring off into space as if reliving the memories rather than talking to her daughter. Rachel sat quietly with knees drawn up under her chin mesmerized by her mother’s words.
“So without the gory details I started fucking this guy. At first it was glamorous to be having sex. But then the sex changed and the guy wanted me to do things that I was not sure I wanted to do. But I wanted to make him happy and so I did them. This only made me loathe myself all the more, and the sex escalated.
Sometimes I would smoke pot. There was always a lot of pot around and sometimes other drugs and I found that the sex wasn’t so bad if I was high. I did things I wasn’t proud of, and still am not proud of today, but I didn’t or couldn’t stop. I was a teenager with something to prove. So it went on like that for a long time. The sex and the drugs fed on each other for me in a destructive cycle all fueled by teen age stupidity and stubbornness.
And then it started to come apart. The guy I was with started to get bored with me and I started to get jealous of the other girls that were around. One time I remember I was crying on the couch next to him. I was drunk, stoned and naked and I remember saying, ‘what the hell do I have to do to make you love me?’