Itâ€™s going to be difficult. There will be butterflies, and then raging birds, and finally rocketships. You know this already, right?
Itâ€™s after five. They both have come home and sheâ€™s already making supper and heâ€™s checking what time the game starts.
Find something nice to wearâ€”like that one skirt you wore to your scholarship acceptance-thing last year, and maybe that blouse you used to bring to church. Donâ€™t think about that too much; thereâ€™s no need to recheck your morals at this point.
Walk into the bathroom. Glance away from the full-body mirror. Fix yourself on solely your face. Your eyes are red; a few eye drops will repair that, no problem. Add some more mascara and add blush to your cheeks for later.
Avoid the garbage bin.
I know you donâ€™t want to, but you really should check your phone one last time. Itâ€™s been over two hours now and there hasnâ€™t been a reply, but the sooner you get a response, the better. Maybe.
Anyway, when your mom notes how cute you look, thank her and get on with helping her with the dinner. Ignore the pounding inside your chest. Help her with the biscuits or the gravy or setting the table. Ask her about work. Keep the conversation on her day, not yours. Do not let her bring up school. Do not remind her of that stressful chemistry test she helped you study for last night. Those two hours were pointless after the four minutes in your bedroom two months ago became the thing you most worry about.
By the time you sit down at the dining room table and your parents have begun to discuss things that you have heard every night for the last eighteen years, the birds will be transforming into rockets. Hold it back a little longer, just so they can get settled. Let them take a bite of the chicken, or the mashed potatoes, at least.
Push the food around a little. Bring the potatoes to your mouth firstâ€”not the chicken or the smell might turn on you. Nibble. Pretend it tastes like something.
When he addresses you and asks if youâ€™re okay honey, nod and smile, please. It is hard, but try.
You donâ€™t know when the best time isâ€”hell, is there a right time?â€”but say it quietly at first. Watch their faces as they change from light to dark. "What was that, dear?" they say, and youâ€™ll say it once more. Maybe twice. They lie and ask you to repeat it again because they swear they didnâ€™t hear you, but three times is all they need to hear it to really hear it.
It gets quiet. Just avoid their faces. She will stare at youâ€”speechlessâ€”and he will probably yell and threaten to murder your boyfriend. Just donâ€™t look.
You can cry too. If you have to in front of them, do it. If you can hold it in as they cry and yell, impressive.
When they send you away, or when you retreat because you canâ€™t stand the noise of humiliation anymore, you can go back upstairs to your room. Shut your door quietly. Lock it, if you wish. Try keeping your crying to a minimum. Shed your clothes and grab something loose-fitting.
Check your phone. Nothing, right? Donâ€™t question what heâ€™ll say or how heâ€™ll react because thereâ€™s no real way of knowing. Putting that extra stress on wonâ€™t help either.
Your head is going to throbâ€”for the next eighteen years, surelyâ€”and your mind will have its own rounds of morning sickness. Push those thoughts away for now. You need to relax.
Sit on the bed. Donâ€™t think. Waitâ€”for sleep or for this nightmare to pass.
Thereâ€™s a knock at your door. You know itâ€™s her; thereâ€™s no way he would have come up. You must have kept it unlocked as she slips inside easily. Her hand rests on your shoulder, pushes just a little. Inch over. Let her climb in.
She strokes your hair back. Ignore how much your body wants to break downâ€”how strangled your heart feels and how beaten your spirit isâ€”and keep yourself controlled. At the tip of your tongue is what you wanted to say before you confessed, but please donâ€™t say it yet. She wonâ€™t want youâ€”
"Mom, Iâ€™m sâ€”"
"Not yet, honey," she says. "Not yet."
Sheâ€™s not mad. Sheâ€™s just unhappy. Sheâ€™ll come around. Give her time. You needed time, and sheâ€™ll need time.
Let her comfort you for now. Let that touch be a reminder that youâ€™re not alone. Sheâ€™s there, and your dad will come around, and who knowsâ€”maybe youâ€™ll get that text back. Maybe even a phone call. Just choke it back; hold back the rocketships.
Itâ€™s going to be difficult, but you know that already.