by Chris Eng, illustration by Karlene Harvey
It was just as bad as Jenn thought it would be. Her mother had been yelling at her for ten minutes straight and it had long passed the point where it could be argued she had any interest in finding out where Jenn had been or who she was with. Now it was just an angry, angry rant.
There was the part about what her parents had been through. The part about them calling the hospitals. The part about them calling the police. The part detailing how stupid she was for turning her phone off. The rhetorical question about just who she thought she was. Then there was the part about how there would be consequences. That was the part that mattered; everything else was a justification for whatever came out of her mother’s mouth next.
The interesting thing was that it was clear that in spite of whatever worries had gone through her mother’s mind over the course of the night, this speech—the entire rant from end to end—had been rehearsed. It was contrived, over the top and darkly comical, but Jenn used every ounce of strength she had left to fight laughter, a smile or any emotion at all. She stood there and stared blankly at her mother.
Standing motionless and staring wasn’t hard. She’d had about two hours of sleep the night before. Jenn was pretty sure she and Spit had fallen asleep before the sun came up, but with the way she felt, it was probably just before the sun came up. Consequently, the adrenaline rush that buoyed her briefly when she confronted her parents was ebbing, and she was now doing her best to stay focused while her mother yelled at her.
Her dad was present, but he was sitting off to the side, a bystander to the events taking place. Her mother was more enthusiastic about discipline anyway.
“You will make me a list of all your friends’ full names and their phone numbers and addresses,” her mother shouted.
Yeah, that seems likely, Jenn thought.
“And you’re grounded.” That one, despite the fact that Jenn was expecting it, was a sharp shock to the system. “For a month. At least. Until you feel a little more cooperative about telling us what really happened last night.”
“You haven’t even asked me what happened! You’ve just been standing there yelling at me!”
Her mother shook her head dismissively. “You wouldn’t have told me the truth anyway, so why would I?”
Jenn goggled disbelievingly and looked at her dad who stared back stoney-faced.
“Don’t look at me,” he said. “You brought this one on yourself.”
“Fine,” Jenn spat. “Are we done, then?”
“We’re done,” her mother snapped. “We can talk about where all this,” she gestured at Jenn’s clothes, “came from later. Go to your room.”
“Not a problem,” said Jenn, storming out. Tears were already welling up, but she wouldn’t give her mother the satisfaction of crying in front of her. Jenn’s tears were her own. And maybe, she thought, remembering the night before, Spit’s.
“Jesus Christ, McNabb, are you completely serious?!” Claire stood across the hall and gaped at Jenn. “Is that the first thing you found to wear when you rolled out of the dumpster this morning?”
Claire’s second-in-command, Ashleigh, wrinkled her nose at the hoodie. “You know the Soviet Union doesn’t exist anymore, right?”
“You dumbass, McNabb,” Claire sneered. “Try to keep up with current events.” They both started laughing and bumped fists as Jenn moved around them.
Jenn kept everything inside. All of it.