Trish let herself quietly in the front door. Her mother was stretched out on the couch and she took the afgan hanging over the back and covered her. She sat down on the recliner and waited. Jenny was breathing deeply. The empty pitcher and glass sat on the coffee table. Trish picked up the pitcher and smelled inside it, making a face. When she sat the pitcher down it clunked on the table and her mother stirred. She still seemed asleep but she started waving her arms in the air.
“Trish, is that you,” she slurred. “You’re late again,” she complained.
“How would you know that? You’re too drunk to see the clock.” There was disgust in her voice and she rolled her tired eyes. “You’re right. I’m fifteen minutes late, but I’m not drunk. What’s your excuse this time, mother?”
“We had a party. You know we were having a party, but you went out anyway….you can’t stand any of them.” Her tongue seemed thick in her mouth but she tried to talk anyway. “I made a pitcher of martinis. You know how the gang likes martinis.”
“Oh, and especially you, right, Mom? Tell me something I don’t know. You like all booze” Tish looked at her mother with disgust.
“Did you see the TV…what Ted won? He gave me the coat.” One moment she seemed wide awake, the next, she was drowsing.
“He must be out of his tree. There’s got to be a catch. Uncle Ted has never been that generous in his life.” She studied her nails before she added,” Besides, you don’t deserve it.”
“Listen here, young lady” Jen pointed her finger in a wavering hand. “I’m still your mother and I won’t have any sass from you. How do you know what I deserve?” She tried to stand to tower over her daughter but she fell back on the sofa.
“Well, at least you’re not yelling. That’s a plus. You know, the only time I really get to talk to you is when you’re drunk, and then you don’t remember what you said Then you start the yelling all over again.” Tears filled Trish’s eyes. “Why do you hate me?”
“Aw, I don’t hate you, baby. It’s just that you are making the same mistakes I did, is all” She swooned over the edge of the sofa.
“Did you ever make honor roll, or get named student of the year when you were in school?”
“You know I didn’t,” Jenny was crying now. “It’s your lousy boyfriend,” she screamed. “Anybody can see what he wants.”
“Well, here’s some news for you. Ben’s going to wait until I graduate and get married, next year. He thinks that much of me. That’s more than you ever did.”
“Don’t hold your breath. Even then, you’re too damned young. You’d be makin’ the same mistake I did.”
Their voices had escalated to such a pitch, neither heard Jim come into the room.
“That’s enough, Jenny. I think you said enough for one night. Someday I’m going to get one of those recording machines, just to play it all back for you in the morning. It’s not fair to Trish. Someday you will be sorry, mark my words.” He hugged his daughter and for a long moment they stood in the middle of the room, holding each other. Both had tears in their eyes. “You go on, Trish. I’ll put her in bed. It’s my problem.”
“I’m sorry Dad, but you’re wrong about that. It’s our problem…yours and mine.” Trish ran past him, avoiding the pain in his eyes. She went upstairs and took off her clothes in the dim light of a street light. She lay sobbing into the morning hours. If only she could get away.