“It’s not my fault, there was a sale.”
Lane lifted her nose from the textbook. Her mother’s voice murmured something else from the bedroom, muffled from across the mobile home. “Mom?” Lane asked aloud. There was no answer so Lane abandoned her homework on the kitchen table.
The scratched laminate crackled under her diminutive weight as she padded over to the ajar door. Inside her mother practiced excuses in front of the mirrored closet. “I’m going to return most of it anyway,” she cooed, running a hand down the front of her pearl-buttoned blouse. Shopping bags covered the bunched coverlet on the bed.
“Who are you talking to?” Lane asked.
Her mother jumped, hand vibrating over her heart. She pursed her lips when she saw Lane. “Baby. What the hell? You need to stop sneaking around like that.”
Lane stepped half into the room. She flicked her eyes to the bags and new clothes.
“There was a sale, and it’s been forever since I’ve done anything for myself. I’ve been so busy taking care of you. But I got you something.” Her mother grabbed one of the shopping bags and brandished it at Lane, the woman’s gray eyes fever bright and dilated. Lane didn’t move, though her expression crumbled. Her mother huffed and dropped the bag. “And you’re always ungrateful.”
Lane’s fingers went white and bloodless curled around the bedroom door. “There’s no food in the kitchen mom. There hasn’t been any in days. How much did all this cost and what are you on? Ms. Alders–.”
Her Mother interrupted her with a furious wide eyed stare, like an enraged bull. “–Your caseworker can’t tell me how to be a mother. I’ve seen her handbag and those Coach boots, who’s she to tell me what I can spend my money on? I’ll just explain.” Lane’s mother went back to the mirror, smoothing her blouse again and angling her narrow chin at her own reflection.
Lane watched the woman mutter agitated replies to some unknown critic before Lane gave up, massaging blood back into her fingers and leaving the bedroom.