“What can I do to help?” I asked my mom as I entered the kitchen.
“The potatoes are ready to be mashed, if you’ll do that, I’ll start cleaning up while the sausage cooks.” She handed me the masher and made her way to the sink. “Who was on the phone?” Her words were spoken casually, but I knew better.
Here we go.
I took a fortifying breath and kept my eyes glued to the chunks of potatoes steaming in a pot. “It was Rebecca—she’s invited me to a girls’ night over at her place on Wednesday.”
My mother made a snorting sound as she swept vegetable remnants into the sink.
“Well there’s no chance of that happening, of that you can be certain.”
I spun to glare at her, holding the masher in the air. “Mom, I’m twenty years old. I’ll decide if I’m staying with a friend for the night.”
My mother was decently fit, she’d had me at a young age and was still an attractive woman. Her hair was a deep red like mine, although not quite as curly, and she had hazel eyes that creased in the corners when she laughed. When she stilled and turned those intense eyes on me, they held none of their usual warmth.
The woman who raised me was suddenly terrifying.
“Well look at you, all cozied up with the filth,” she sneered as she gave a disapproving glance down my body. “You think I don’t know that you’ve been sneaking around with them? Those vile creatures murdered our ancestors. They rape and destroy at every opportunity, feeding off humans like we were lambs at the slaughter. And there goes my own flesh and blood, offering herself up as the next victim. I raised you better—raised you smart enough not to hand yourself over to the devil.”
Her hate-filled description of people that I knew to be kind and generous made my heart ache with disappointment. It’s a terrible thing to be let down by a parent—not only is there anger, but the guilt is overwhelming.
Guilt that I couldn’t love her like I should.
Every time we argued over the subject, I struggled to see goodness in my own mother. Knowing her prejudices damaged my love for her weighed on my heart. How do you love a bigot? Do you look past the hatred that seeps from their pores?
Are you then condoning their behavior?
I didn’t want to put more distance between my mom and me, but I also wasn’t going to walk away from the best friend I’d ever had just because my mom was prejudiced. I wouldn’t live my life burdened with the bitterness she carried daily. I didn’t know how to reconcile the two parts of my life, and the helplessness I felt sapped the energy from my fight.
“I don’t know how to talk to you when you get this way. Rebecca and Ashley aren’t going to hurt me, but nothing I say will convince you.”
“You don’t have to convince me of anything.” She lifted her chin and steeled herself. “But if you don’t stay away from them, I’ll be forced to take you before the elders.”
The air in my lungs burst from my lips as if I’d been punched in the gut.
“You’re threatening me?”
“I’ll do what it takes to protect you, no matter how ungrateful you are.” She looked down her nose at me.
“Protect me? You mean punish me!” I spat back in defiance, my anger reigniting.
“I’ve been talking with Deaglan, and he agrees that you can’t keep carrying on the way you’ve been. You’re heading down a dark road and something must be done.”
“Deaglan O’Connor? Mom, he’s a lunatic; you can’t listen to him. There’s nothing wrong with Rebecca or the Huntsmen—you’re just a bigot!”
The slap came out of nowhere.
I hadn’t seen her raised hand, which was best—I didn’t want to carry with me the image of my mother in the moment she had broken my heart. The burning pain from her blow had run more than skin deep, and my despair was crippling. We were both aware of our difference of opinion concerning the Fae, but never had it escalated to such a heated extent.
With my hand protectively covering my aching jaw, I met my mother’s livid eyes. She had overstepped her bounds, and I wanted her to know it. Like two alley cats measuring each other up before a brawl, we locked gazes in an icy showdown. We did not blink, nor give thought to the burning sausage sizzling on the stove beside us. Our glares were weapons, fueled with rage-filled accusations.
What may have only lasted a matter of seconds felt like a lifetime. It became clear on my mother’s stony face that she felt equally as wronged as I had. My chest hollowed with the realization that despite her malicious behavior, she had zero remorse for her actions.
Tears filled my eyes, and with a defeated shake of my head, I walked away from my mother, knowing our relationship would never be the same.