“Lizzie! You’re home!” my mom says, nearly plowing me down when I arrive home four hours later. I have to take a step back to keep from falling over.
“I’m glad to see you too,” I say, trying to hold back a laugh, “but you know, you did just see me at graduation a couple days ago.”
“I know, but just a few hours just wasn’t enough.” My mom gives me a squeeze. “You barely came home to visit this semester. The last time we saw you was during winter break!”
I sigh. “I know. I’m sorry. I was so busy with classes and my graduate school applications, not to mention making sure the Beta Gamma Kappas were well suited for after we left. It was a very busy quarter!”
“I’ll bet.” My mom then pulls away. “Well, I know its late, but I’m sure you are hungry. I have some leftover pie in the fridge that I made the other day.”
I grin. “Sounds good.”
I then follow my mom into the dining room and am surprised to see Judy and Tommy standing there. Curious, I gaze down at my cell phone and see my time reads 10:35pm. Why was Tommy here so late?
However, that isn’t even what really catches my attention the most. Judy is standing very close to Tommy, laughing as he talks to her.
“I should get going though,” Tommy then says. “I’m sure my mom will be home any minute and she will kill me if I’m not there.”
Judy laughs. “All right. Meet up tomorrow?”
I just stand watching them in silence. It’s amazing to see how much they have both grown in the past two years. Now they were both full-fledged teens about to enter their sophomore year of high school. It’s crazy! Though not as crazy as the fact that it would seem something interesting was going on between the two of them.
After Tommy leaves, I grin and walk over to Judy.
“Well, well. What was going on there?”
Judy who was then smiling, turned to me and frowned. “What?”
“I mean with Tommy.” I jerk my shoulder in the direction of the dining room archway. “It seemed like I walked into a little something.”
Now, the answer that I expected to hear from her came nowhere near to the response I got.
While I thought she would just laugh and maybe deny it, she does something totally different.
“Yah, you did walk into something,” she says, glaring at me. “Two friends having a private conversation. So bud out.”
I am so stunned by her reaction that I don’t even know how reply.
“Judy,” I start, but she doesn’t even give me the chance to finish. She just rolls her eyes and heads out of the dining room toward the staircase.
After I hear her door slam upstairs several seconds later, I slowly turn to my mom who was placing a plate of pumpkin pie on the counter.
“What, was that all about?” I ask.
My mom sighs heavily and shakes her head. “Don’t worry about it, Lizzie. She is just going through some…things.” She then gestures to the plate in front of her. “Why don’t you come serve yourself some so I can put the rest away.”
I quickly oblige my mom, but I can’t wipe out what she just said about Judy. What could she be going through that would make her talk to me like that? I mean, it’s not that we haven’t gotten into fights before like any other siblings, it’s just that usually the behavior was warranted.
However, right now, I can’t think of anything I could have done to get her so upset. What was going on with her?
“So, you said Judy was going through something?” I say to my mom, when she joins me at the dining room table with a piece of pie. “What exactly is that?”
My mom takes a bite of her pie and then swallows it slowly. “I-I can’t say for sure. I-I just know that she is going through a h-hard time right now. Y-you know how teenagers are around this age.”
Now normally when my mother tells me things, I can take her word for it and have my mind at ease, but something about the way she answered my question, leaves me wondering more about it. It seemed that there was more to it than that and that my mom in fact knew exactly why Judy was so upset.
I am just about to address this, when the door behind me opens and in walks my dad. He walks in very quiet and doesn’t even seem to notice me siting at the table with my mom.
“Dad,” I call out and wave.
He then glances in my direction and blinks. “Oh, Lizzie, you’re home.”
I nod. “Yes. It’s nice to see you too.”
“Oh, I’m sorry dear. I-I’m just in the middle of getting some paperwork finished for tomorrow and I still have a lot to go through. I am happy you are home though.”
After giving me a hug, my dad quickly leaves the dining room, with me sitting there puzzled.
Now, I know that my dad is a total workaholic, (and I mean completely) but it is very unusual for him to just leave so rapidly. Whatever he was doing in the study must have been very urgent. I mean, what else could it be?
“I hope dad’s been getting his share of sleep,” I joke to my mom. “He really works himself too hard.”
My mom coughs slightly and then nods. “I hope so too, but you know your father.”
That catches my attention. What did she mean by “she hoped”? Shouldn’t she know?
“Hey mom,” I say, after watching her quietly for a moment, “is everything…okay?”
My mom frowns. “What do you mean?”
“I don’t know. Things just feel…different.”
My mom smiles. “They’re bound to, dear. You have been gone for quite a while. I’m sure you’ve gotten very accustomed to living on your own for the past couple years. Coming back each time I’m sure takes a bit of an adjustment; more now so, since you are a post-grad.” She then shakes her head. “I still can’t believe it. I have a daughter graduated from college. Valedictorian!”
“Mom,” I start, but she holds up her hand.
“No, Lizzie, this is an amazing accomplishment. I am so incredibly proud of you. No matter, what, I want you to know that.”
I smile at that. “Thanks mom.”
After we finish our pieces of pie, I help mom wash the dishes and dry them. I am then about to follow her upstairs, when she suddenly stops by the front door and starts slipping on her coat. Now that’s odd.
“Uh, mom?” I say, staring at her in confusion. “Are you going somewhere?”
“Oh.” My mom shrugs her shoulders as she straightens up the buckle on her jacket. “Yes. I’m going to your grandparent’s house.”
I frown. “What? But it’s past eleven ‘O clock.”
“I-I know. I wasn’t meaning to leave so late, but I wanted to see you before I left.”
“You could just wait and leave in the morning.”
“I-I know, but it’s okay. I’d rather get there tonight.”
I am about to ask why this is the case, when my mom suddenly pulls me into a hug.
“Well, I should be off, dear. You go on right up and get some much-needed rest. I’ll see you real soon.”
I am still confused by all this. My mom has never left to go to visit my grandparent’s so late in the night.
“But mom,” I start, but she pulls away and then waves her hand to shush me.
“It’s all right, Elizabeth. Everything is fine. I’m just going to stay with your grandparents for a while. You can reach me on my cell if you need anything. Anything at all.” And with that, she opens the front door and disappears into the night.
Even after she has already left, I still stand by the door feeling puzzled about everything. My sister was giving me the cold shoulder, my dad was too busy to even look at me and now my mom was going to stay with my grandparents without even giving an exact return date. What had happened to my home sweet home?
I decide to sleep it off and just chalk everyone’s odd behavior up to us all getting re-adjusted. After all, I had been gone for a long time and now am officially back living at home. That is, unless I am lucky and get into one of the graduate schools I applied to.
I go upstairs and slip into my p.js before climbing into bed. My phone then buzzes and I glance down to see a text from Michael.
“Sweet dreams, my love,” it reads and I can’t help but smile.
“Same to you, dearest,” I text back and slip back under my covers. At least with all the weirdness going on at home, one thing in my life was still and would always be the same.