Thursday, January 19, 2017

November 16

Well, Mom insisted I visit her already. I was surprised the standoff lasted only one day. I figured she’d sulk for at least two.

When Kini commed, I was more than ready to say no way. I was still in a place of rejecting everything about her. Each time I looked at Anrel and thought about what Mom said, the cold in my heart returned. She had no right to be my baby’s mimi.

I was especially reluctant to return to Mom’s bedside so soon when Kini admitted she still exhibited no contrite behavior. “She’s demanding, but not hostile,” he hurried to explain. “She says it’s time to clear the air between the two of you once and for all.”

“I did that yesterday,” I answered. “If she’s going to call Anrel names, I’m through with her.”

Kini reasoned. He cajoled. He pleaded. “Listen to whatever she has to say. If she starts being abusive, walk out. In that case, we’ll keep you away for a week. That will assure her that such behavior has serious consequences.”

I had to hand it to that man. As much shit as Mom had given him since she emerged from stasis, he still made her recovery his priority. It was his dedication that swayed me in the end. However, I made it a point to tell him, “If she makes one ugly statement about my child or future children, I won’t stay away for a week. It will be for good. I mean that.”

So with Clan Aslada in tow and Anrel left in her manny Snoy’s care, I went to see Mom against my better judgment.

It did not start off well. The instant we entered her room with Kini, she shook her head, her expression set. “Not them. Not those men. Just you, Shalia. This is between us.”

I rolled my eyes. I was pretty sure the discussion was going to go south in a hurry from there, but Clan Aslada has no real stake in my relationship with Mom. If she wanted to end things privately, that was fine with me.

I turned to the guys and shrugged. “I guess you’re excused.”

Kini touched my arm. “I’ll be right outside the door if you need me.”

The other three men nodded to me with significant looks. Aslada, Meyso, and Jaon would be there as well. Not that it mattered. How much support did I need to break up with my mother?

They left the room. I went closer to Mom’s bed, where she gave me a look that wasn’t quite a glare but wasn’t ‘here’s my lovely daughter’ either. She sized me up, probably wondering how much crap I would let her get away with.

She finally spoke. “What the hell are you doing with your life?”

I folded my arms over my chest and gave her a level gaze. “Living it. Taking care of my daughter. Making myself happy.”

Mom snorted. “What do you know of happiness? People like us weren’t meant to be happy.”

“I disagree.”

“Will living with three alien men make you happy? Being at their beck and call? Servicing them when they decide they need some pussy?”

I drew a breath. “If it was that way, no. That would not make me happy. But having a loving relationship with three men who care about me and my daughter will. That’s what I’m working towards.”

She snorted. “Men won’t give you anything worthwhile. Alien men can’t begin to understand what an Earther woman needs.”

“I haven’t found that to be true. Most of the Kalquorian men I’ve had relationships with work hard to figure things out.”

She wouldn’t be convinced. “Until they’ve gotten what they want from you. Then it’s a whole other story.”

“Your relationships are not anything like the ones I’ve had. It’s too bad you haven’t had men in your life that cared for you. I’ve been lucky in that respect.”

“How many of those damned Kalqs have you screwed?”

“None of your business. As far as I’m concerned, only one might have been a mistake. Since he may have fathered Anrel, I refuse to regret him.”

Her eyes narrowed. “You’re sleeping with that clan Dr. Meyso is in. You’re giving them the milk without them buying the cow.”

I felt tired, dealing with her and her judgments. “I am exploring compatibility. Emotional, romantic, and yes, sexual. It’s all part of finding who I belong with.”

“You’re not property, Shalia.”

“I said belong with, not belong to.”

She scowled. “Is that what you want for Anrel? To have to take care of three men’s needs? To have to answer to that many?”

I crooked a brow at her. “You have no idea how Kalquorian men operate. They’re more focused on the woman’s needs than their own. And if you think Matara Elwa answers to her clanmates rather than their relationship being balanced, you should have her explain it to you.”

Mom was quiet for a moment, digesting that idea. At last she said, “It’s not normal for us. I don’t like it.”

“I don’t care. It’s my life.”

Mom shook her head. “Which you’re ruining. But I don’t want you to keep Anrel from me. I don’t see her as a half-breed or anything but a beautiful child who deserves only the best. I guess I’ll have to bite my lip and keep my opinions to myself if I’m to remain in her life.”

I felt something inside me relax. “You can’t talk garbage about Kalquorians around her. Her father is one. She’ll live her life on Kalquor. Putting part of her heritage down is the same as insulting her.”

Her lips thinned. “I would never insult my grandchild. Your faults and her father’s – whoever he is – are not hers.”

“Fine. As long as you remember that, you can continue to see her.”

I was still more in the mood to have done with the rollercoaster of Mom. But if she could behave herself around Anrel, I didn’t want to deny my child contact with her one biological grandparent. It was a shaky truce, but one I could live with. For now.

Mom’s rehab interrupted any further conversation that might have derailed our precarious d├ętente. I was relieved to have an excuse to get the hell out of there. I didn’t have parental approval, but at least I could hope Anrel wouldn’t suffer one way or the other from our disagreement.

Kini applauded me. “It’s something,” he reassured. “As Matara Eve progresses with her behavioral control, it will get even better. I’m sure of it.”

Well, at least someone is optimistic. I seem to have run out of that quality where my mother is concerned.

Clan Aslada took me to a fancy brunch to celebrate me getting through yet another bump in the road with Mom’s recovery. I didn’t have much appetite to start with after my conversation. However, the open-air hilltop restaurant was so pretty, sitting high enough that I imagined I could put my hand up and touch one of the fluffy cottonball clouds overhead. It’s hard to be angsty surrounded by rolling lands covered in rainbows of wildflowers.

And when you have three men doting on you like you’re God’s gift to Kalquor…well, that’s not a bad thing either.

The restaurant was set up like the world’s most extravagant picnic. We lounged on billowy seating cushions scattered on the lush grass. I was curled in the middle of the shelter of Aslada, Meyso, and Jaon, who held me and jockeyed to feed me the food that the attentive waitstaff brought us. Two men wandered amongst the diners, playing soft bell-like music with instruments I’d never seen before. Aslada tipped them heavily to play a Plasian love song. It was romance with a capital R, the kind of thing that only happens in teenage fantasy.

Between stuffing my face with delicious delicacies, Aslada, Meyso, and Jaon stroked my hair and back, dropped gentle kisses on my face at the least opportunity, and whispered things both naughty and sweet in my ears. There were at least two dozen other groups sitting on that hilltop, some of whom had hailed their governor when we’d arrived. Clan Aslada seemed to have no worries about the public display of affection they showered on me, though a lot of it was super mushy. Even Jaon made no bones about being caring as he petted and tended to me.

I nearly forgot about my issues with Mom, only feeling a moment’s sadness that she’d never known the devoted attention I was receiving. I couldn’t dwell much on that however, not with Aslada, Meyso, and Jaon making such a fuss over me. I sank into the sweetness of the attention, feeling very much the cherished woman I wanted to be.

Mom may not approve, but I sure do. All may not be right in my world, but I still get happy moments that I appreciate. She can’t take that away from me. I won’t let anyone steal the bright future I’m sure is possible.

Monday, January 16, 2017

November 15

I may have reached my breaking point with Mom.

The instant I walked in to her room this morning, she said, “Where were you yesterday? Slutting around with your harem? How many half-breed babies are you planning on dropping, you whore?”

I froze. I came to a complete standstill two steps from her bed. There was a buzzing in my head, a kind of wash of static as I replayed her words.

I knew she was coping with abrupt changes in her life. I knew she had no idea how to constructively deal with fear and frustration, that the tools stored in her behavior shed were few and broken. It wasn’t even being called a slut or whore that stopped me in my tracks and made my fists clench. No, those were not what broke this camel’s back.

I stared at her, with her drawn face and the frown lines etched in it from so many years of uncontrollable anger and depression. I saw the old, broken woman who gave me life and managed to raise me to a somewhat responsible adulthood despite all the challenges her mental health had thrown in her path.

I saw her and I did not care one bit. I couldn’t even find revulsion to expend on her. No love, no hate, nothing. She may as well have been a stranger for all the coldness that filled my heart. She did not matter to me, but in my view, she had attacked the person who mattered most of all.

“Are you calling my daughter a half-breed? Are you labeling Anrel with some kind of bigoted shit? Because if that’s the case, you damned sure better believe we will walk out of your life and not come back.”

My tone was as unemotional as the rest of me. I knew in that instant that I would do exactly as I said. I would turn my back on Eve Monroe and forget she had ever existed.

Whether she didn’t get the message or didn’t care, Mom kept on the attack. “This isn’t about her. This is about you abandoning me to open your legs to your alien fuck boys. It’s nice to know how much I mean to you that you’d run off while I’m suffering.”

“You’re fine,” I said, my voice still icy. “You’re recovering. Rehab is exhausting and it’s tough, but yesterday was no worse than the day before or the day before that. The only reason you want me around is to dump on me. Why should I come around at all when you do nothing but swear at me nonstop? Why should I stay with you when you refer to Anrel and my future children as half-breeds? Why should I give a fuck, Mom?”

“Then leave and don’t come back,” she yelled, her face darkening with anger. “You’ve done enough damage already. Go play with your aliens. Fuck yourself stupid like the tramp you are. Get the hell away from me!”

“Done. Have a nice life if that’s even possible, you miserable witch.” I turned on my heel and nearly walked right into Clan Aslada. I hadn’t heard them come in.

Meyso held Anrel in his arms. I jerked my head towards the door. “Either give her to me or take her out. She no longer has a grandmother.”

He stared at me with wide, shocked eyes. Slowly, he backed out of the room. I followed him and the other two men followed me.

Outside Mom’s room, Meyso struggled to say something. “Shalia…you don’t mean…”

“I do. When she speaks of Anrel like my child is worth nothing because she’s not fully Earther, then she forfeits all my compassion. I’m done with her.”

Aslada put a gentle hand on my shoulder. “We only just walked in. What did she say against Anrel?”

“Hold on,” Meyso interrupted. “I want Dr. Kini in on this since it sounds like a big emotional issue for both Eve and Shalia.”

I shrugged. “Pull him in if you want to, but it doesn’t change anything. I’m done. She’s not to see Anrel again, not if she thinks of her the way she says she does.”

My mind was made up. Mom had gone too far. I would not subject Anrel to such awful views. I couldn’t protect my child from everything, but I could damn sure shield her from my mother.

We went to Dr. Kini’s office. Fortunately…or unfortunately, depending on the viewpoint…he was in and free to talk.

I caught him and Clan Aslada up on my mother’s latest round of bullshit. While Aslada, Meyso, and Jaon were careful not to voice any opinions, they looked aghast. How Kini felt about it, he gave no clue. He had his psychology hat on, and that thing never slips off at the clinic.

He rubbed his chin as he considered the situation. “I understand your concerns, Shalia. You don’t want Anrel exposed to such vitriol, even though she’s still too young to understand what’s being said. And of course you’re worried this wouldn’t be an isolated incident.”

I finally felt something: let down. Mom had seemed to adore Anrel so much. Had it been an act? Just her pretending to love her grandchild because it was what was expected of her? The thought made me despondent. How could she not love Anrel?

I voiced those questions to Kini. He nodded. “I can sympathize with how you feel. What I’ve found with Matara Eve is that when she’s upset enough, everything and everyone becomes fair game. But in this case, her attack was focused on you rather than Anrel. I sincerely believe she adores her granddaughter and would do anything to not see her harmed.”

“I still can’t have my child around that,” I insisted. “At what point is Anrel no longer safe because Mom has to lash out?”

“A good point. I think you’ve come close to doing the right thing about it.” Kini smiled with encouragement. “You’ve drawn a line in the sand, as you Earthers like to say. You have told her she has no right to cross it and demonstrated there are real repercussions if she does so. Once Matara Eve is over this particular tantrum, she will realize she has to choose. Either she indulges in the verbal abuse she finds so easy to use or she works on constructive communication in order to keep her family.”

“I might not be able to give her the option,” I said. “I’ve had enough of this. Maybe I’m the worst daughter ever, but I don’t think I can deal with her anymore.”

Aslada put his arms around my shoulders. “You are not the worst daughter. You’ve been remarkably patient with Matara Eve.”

Kini nodded his agreement to that assessment. “Indeed, you have. This might be a turning point for Eve as well. Now that a clear boundary has been established, we may see her re-evaluate her behavior. Shalia, I know you feel you’ve been pushed to your limit. I do request that when she asks for you to come see her again, that you will do so.”

I looked at Anrel, at her bright, happy face. I imagined my mother throwing a fit in her presence, calling her a half-breed or worse. “I don’t know that I can.”

“Give it some time. Let things calm down. Take a break so you can both settle down. No matter what Eve says, she needs you. Better still, she wants you. She loves you and Anrel more than anything else. I know that for a fact.”

I shrugged. “It’s going to take more than love. I’ll keep the option open and see what happens. That’s all I can promise right now.”

It’s all I have left in me to give to my mother.