I hear the rumble of someone pulling into the driveway and jolt to attention.
The unmistakable squeak of the gate sends me flying, searching, digging. Butt in the air, I unearth couch cushion after couch cushion, looking for the remote. I grit my teeth. Where is it, where is it, where is it?
Mom can’t come in now. She can’t know what unforgivable things I have done.
I manage to flip the TV to the Korean Drama channel and rearrange the living room.
Must rid of all evidence.
I shove him into the hallway closet. I blow out the candles. I use the bottom of my shirt to collect all the tin foil wrappers and trash from the coffee table. I wad up the extra blankets in my arms and sprint to my bedroom, tripping on the dangling corner of one quilt and crashing to the floor. But I’m on my feet in an instant.
The sting of rug-burn spikes up my elbow.
In my room, I change. In four, record-breaking maneuvers, I’m out of my something a little more comfortable outfit and into a turtle neck and jeans. I make it to the couch and flop my body across it, casually taking up the remote.
“Hi mom,” I call as she walks through the door.
Two steps into the house, she stops short, purse in hand. “What’s that smell?”
I twitch. “What smell?” I should’ve sprayed air freshener. Stupid.
“Cologne, maybe?” Mom sniffs the air. She’s like a bloodhound, that woman. I chew my lip, heart beating in my chest.
Mom’s nose makes it to the trashcan, where it wrinkles considerably. She drops her search, passes through the kitchen, and tosses her purse and keys on the dining table behind me. The harsh sound of metal against wood makes me flinch.
“What are you watching?” She asks.
“Oh, just flipping around.” I sigh dramatically, taking up the remote. “There’s nothing on.”
Mom sits on the couch opposite to mine. “We could watch something on Netflix. . .” Suddenly, she gasps. Her eyes widen.
She jumps to her feet. “You didn’t.”
“Didn’t what?” I avoid her eyes.
“You didn’t!” She squeaks. She comes close and pries the remote from my fingers, switching the TV to Netflix. “You did! It’s on your profile. You watched Netflix without me!” She whirls around, dark eyes burning into mine, willing me to crack under the pressure.
“I didn’t!” I wail. “It’s on my profile from last time we watched Netflix together! Together!”
Mom is rushing into the kitchen now.
I bolt after her. “Mom, no. Wait! Don’t open that!”
She tosses open the candy cupboard. I don’t see her face for one silent moment, and then I do. “You ate… the chocolate?” Her fingers flutter against her heart. “We were going to wait.”
“I know that’s what we said…” I murmur to my slippers. “But you’re always so busy. I didn’t think you would be home so soon.”
“You didn’t think I’d CATCH you, you mean?” She yells. “I work hard to provide all this—for you!“ Her eyes close. She takes two, long relaxing breaths. “Just tell me one thing.” Her voice is strained, controlled. “Did you… watch… Gilmore Girls?”
When I hesitate, she opens her eyes, face full of rage. She stomps through the house, pacing back and forth. “Where is he?” She demands. “I know you don’t watch Gilmore without him. Where. Is. He?”
I pick at my thumbnail, attempting to play coy, then sigh. “The closet. I shoved the teddy bear in the closet…”
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