Authors: Jolene Perry
the door of our apartment
the sound of paper bags, she’s brought home food.
“Need help?” My laptop’s on my lap, and my feet
are stretched out
on the coffee table.
I click refresh on my email, just to make
sure I don’t have anything new before jumping back into writing.
. I got it.
” She steps around the co
rner from our hole of a kitchen.
wide smile spreads across her angled face. She flicks he
r short, dark hair back as she
into the room
“I brought Moroccan.”
“Awesome.” I set my laptop
on a chair
, and clear my
crap from the
top of the
shoving it onto the shelf underneath
“What’s the occasion?”
She hates picking
and they don’
t deliver. It’s a shame, really. A
lmost every restaurant in New York delivers…well, except the ones I
She sets the large brown bag on the table and moves toward the kitche
, where we keep our coats. “No
. I got a assignment offer the other day that I wanted to talk to you about.”
comes around the corner, and
flops back on
to the couch
. “When did my son
get so grown up
She ruffs my dark brown hair with her hand.
“Last year. I think it was
October.” I smirk.
“And watch the hair.” I point and scoot away, but we’re both smiling. Looking into Mom’s dark brown eyes is like
my own. I look a lot like her
hair, same angled face
ost guys might hate that, but I don’t mind.
ny.” Her hand reaches up and
touches my hair
more softly this time
ing with the ends
. “You need a haircut.”
The way she’s star
me on edge.
“I do not
need a cut
nd since when do you care what I do with my hair?”
, but the
intensity of her look keeps
my chest pounding
Her smile falls.
My stupid heart beats
harder, which sucks, cause it means something big’s about to happen.
“Next assignment is in Africa.” She pulls her
legs up on the couch.
This isn’t a definite
kind of place.
this idea that there are countries
in the world that are safe enough for her, but not for me. I’m not sure yet which way this
sucks cause I almost
get to go.
Mom’s worked on the Today show forever, but she also does stuff for the other news networks in the same media group. She’s on TV often, but has the cool advantage of traveling all over the world. I get to follow
most of the time
hence the home schooling and tutors.
“Cool, how long will we be
I ask, even though part of me is just waiting for her to—
“I’m going alone.” Her shoulders fall.
way into my gut, creating a black pit
She turns to face me
, bringing a knee to her chest
, I know I’m not g
oing to like it
This is one of those moments when I wish I could stop time or
something, or maybe jump ahead—
that might work too.
Anything to avoid what she’s about to say.
Look, I know y
ou barely know your father…”
My dad? What on earth
could he have to do with this?
“No, no no no no.” I shake my head. “He’s like, I mean…we’re not…”
No way would she send me ther
e without her. W
But the weight in my
stomach just doubled
in weight and size.
“He’s a good man, Antony
She’s using her
-voice. One she doesn’t pull out often.
” I lean forward, resting my elbows on my knees
, staring at the floor
Dad bailed about the
time Mom was picked up by NBC
. I was three. Who does that?
My stupid heart ke
eps sending me the same message—
told ya this was big
“No.” She shakes her head. “
, is not in dispute. Your dad has always been a good man.”
“Right, which is why you two stayed together for so long.”
I can feel it coming.
t’s just not like her
to make big decisions without talking to me
“Yeah. And I’m like
to be like you.
No one has a cooler Mom than m
e. Every time a musical gue
st comes on
she knows I like, she’ll b
ring me to work. And it’s never—
this is my cute little boy
, stuff. It’s like
Hey, this is Antony.
knows New York better than anyone, so if you need any help getting around, he’s your man.
“And I love that you’re like me.” She kisses my forehead. This means
bad, because she feels bad
. “But y
ou should know the other half of your parentage.”
ut that’s not it, Mom. He’s weird. He lives on a
And not like a huge boat, either.
only be for three
months or so.”
!” This is crazy.
c starts to set in. Spending three
months on a boat with my weirdo father sounds like torture.
Every nerve is precariously balanced on the edge of some sort of
to Africa before.
hy is this so different?”
We sit and
at one another for a moment. I’m not sure if she’s trying to think of something to say, or if she’s trying to remember something she has prepared. Either way it sucks.
“It’s dangerous, Antony
. I don’t want you there.
You know this. You don’t
get to come.
to concentrate on what I’m doing.”
Both her feet hit
the floor as she turns to the coffee table, and begins to pull
out boxes of food
he smell of spic
fills the living room
“If it’s too dangerous for me, it’s too dangerous for you.” I fold my arms. This is serious, and now she’s avoiding the conversation by dishing up.
I’m trying to think of everyone I know,
keep me from having to spend three
The whole idea
is so crazy that part of me
it can’t be real.
It’s a fine balance
in my life
to know the right people,
say the right things, and Dad doesn’t
get it. He doesn’t get
me, my friends, my clothes, New York. None of it.
t handle living here—
not even for me.
Why should I have to live there?
“It’s not just that. I feel like I’ve done you a disservice by not pushing you harder to spend time with
” Forks get pulled from plastic.
You’re almost eigh
teen and have never spent any real time
Plates are being
She finally stops messing with boxes and food to look at me.
“He misses you.
“I don’t care.” I shake my head. “I don’t really
to spend time with him.”
minute phone call is awkward enough, but
? I can’t even imagine that.
Don’t want to imagine it. Definitely don’t want to live it.
not like her to force something I don’t want.
“He’s a good man, Antony
. I loved him a lot. It was just…”
s start to shrug, but just stop at the top instead of relaxing back down
“It wasn’t enough to counteract how
How is something like this
And I’m not completely freaking out, because in my mind, until my feet are on the deck of his boat, there’s still a chance for something else to happen.
feels like an eternity r
but it won’t feel that way for long.
months is nothing.”
I don’t buy it, not for a second.
Besides, there has to be loads of other options.
Which gives me the
“What about Arnaud? I could stay with h
in Paris for a while.
” Arnaud is a little eccentric, but not a bad guy.
I stayed with
the last time Mom
left me home
He and Mom dated for a short while, and they still get together when we go to Paris.
I could probably do whatever I wanted.
na’s there. I mean, we’re never exactly
, but we’re never exactly
either, and three
months in the proximity of her legs sounds pretty awesome.
Mom’s brows go up.
try. No way you’re spending that much time
We both remember what happened last time.
ve known better. Last time ended in my first and last experience with cocaine
(offered by Arnaud—
which I’m sure
is where the disagreement came
well as my
first sleep over with a girl—
. Arnaud was
proud. Mom was