Cory opened her mouth to explain, to describe Kevyn as a good guy, to justify going out with him and being safe . . . safe! She wasn’t safe last night. No one cared that she was out all night. Cory recalled her mother’s dead-looking eyes, that watched her walk out of the house in the middle of the night and registered no concern whatsoever. She looked into the same eyes now, a mascara shadow beneath them. Despite the cool evening, a flush of heat burned like a flash fire up her neck and over her face. In the distance were the normal sounds of the neighborhood: kids riding their Big Wheels, the bounce of a basketball, a trash can lid being replaced. She noticed the thread of silver in the part of her mom’s hair where the color was growing out. She could smell the acrid scent of the boxwood shrubs lining the walk. Everything seemed sharper, minute details she’d never noticed, seemed all in slow motion somehow.
“You want to know where I’m going now? How about last night?” Her voice grew louder. “Did you care at all where I went last night?”
Roni grabbed her by the elbow to steer her back into the house. “Don’t you dare talk to me in that tone!”
Cory shook her off. “And you are never to have that man back in our house again, ever!” A huge band around her chest tightened. “He attacked me, and you didn’t do anything!” The neighborhood sounds stilled.
“What are you talking about?” Her mom’s arm dropped to her side.
“He came in my room. He attacked me.”
“Oh, go on. That’s crazy.” Roni stomped on her words. “He didn’t attack you. He was upstairs to use the bathroom and went in the wrong room, that’s all.” She pulled the bottom of her suit sleeve to straighten it and headed down the sidewalk where the kid was riding his bike.
Clickety-click. Clickety-click. The sound faded as he rode away from them. They stood facing each other, staring.
Cory drew a deep breath. “No, Mom, he was drunk. I pushed him off, but he knew what he was doing, and you didn’t help me. You’ve never helped me.”
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