15 February 2015

Mother Drives Me to Work, Again



By: Rosie


The atmosphere in the car is so tense and oppressive I literally feel a choking grip on my throat but at the same time, all over my body I'm feeling light and airy. Of course I'm wishing I was wearing a suit, just like any other day, jacket, tie, shirt and pants, but that would feel so much stuffier. Hot. Uncomfortable. I'm looking forward and a bit to the right hand side but never at my mother. If I'm looking at all, mostly I keep my eyes closed. It's been a long night and an early morning so even without the suit, I'm dozing off in the heat. As another blast of warm air from the heating vent flows by my face, I can picture myself deliberating whether I should ask my mother to turn the heating down, at least for a notch, or maybe just loosen up my tie and unbutton my collar. I know that mother likes to keep warm as she drives so instead of asking her, I instinctively reach up to my neck which abruptly brings me back to reality. There is no tie to loosen, no collar to unbutton, there is no fabric around my neck at all, just a single strand of pearls. The only fabric that touches my neck is the gauzy chiffon of my sleeve which reminds me that I am not wearing a suit at all, but a light, airy dress, with a neckline that reaches just below my collarbone and gauzy, billowing sleeves that end with two inches wide strips of black satin, wrapped tightly around my wrists. The whole dress is made of black chiffon with a red, green and orange polka dot print, over a black, sleeveless silk shell. Even though the knee length skirt is not tight at all, I can't get too comfortable because I have to take care that the hem doesn't ride over my stocking tops. It's not too bad, but I'd still rather wear my suit. I knew that I would never be safe, but after more than a year of undisturbed living, I suppose I had let my guards down. I could go on about how I'd always know that it was going to happen any day but the truth is, when I answered the door yesterday evening, I couldn't be any more surprised to see my mother. She dropped her suitcase smack in the middle of my living room and I dragged it to my bedroom. Rifling through it, I recognized some of my old clothes, as well as a lot of new ones. I was going to spend enough time getting ready anyway, so I decided to stick to what I already knew. I fished out the bag with the cosmetics and went to the bathroom. We'd been through the same routine so many times now that lately, we hardly say a word. "At least you haven't put on any weight," were the first words she said to me, an hour after first coming in, when I stood before her, now dressed in a pale yellow, full skirted evening gown with a matching bolero jacket and silver sandals with four inch stiletto heels. I didn't speak much either. I had already admitted my defeat by shaving my legs, putting on white satin lingerie, the dress, shoes and makeup. All I wanted to do now was to go back home, but I knew that nothing I could say would convince my mother to change the routine. I could resign from my job by simply phoning the office, but that wouldn't please her at all. The following morning, just like every time thus far, she would make sure I was dressed up properly. Sometimes I'd wear a dress, sometimes a blouse and skirt, sometimes she'd even let me choose myself which clothes I would wear for the humiliation that awaited me, though she always insisted I wear very high heels. She would drive me to work herself and, if necessary, use force to make me enter my office to be laughed at until I was told to pick up my things and never to return. Although I've been through that ordeal many times now, it never gets any easier. Though the experience does allow me to switch on the autopilot in my mind and become merely a spectator of my humiliation. This time, it's not that hard to get to the office without attracting attention. It's a small office, in a big building. A lot of people pass by every day and no one pays any attention to just another dressed up girl, fumbling through her handbag to find her pass card, then giving up and just swiping the handbag over the scanner. We are all strangers here and even though I've been here for more than a year, I don't recognize any of the four people riding in the elevator with me. It's still early and I'm happy to see that the lights in our offices are still unlit, except for those in the boss's office. At least this time there won't be a big scene. I hesitate for a second but then hurry to Mrs. Henderson's office, afraid that if I'm too slow other people will come in. Let's get this over with, I say to myself and knock on the door. I can see my mother's car from the window in our office. Just like every time so far, she's waiting for me to leave the building, tears of shame tracing black streaks of mascara down my cheeks. She is persistent, I'll give her that. I can't say for sure, because I haven't kept my eyes on her all the time. I was called to Mrs. Henderson's office again, after everyone had come in, and she made a brief announcement that I would henceforth be working as a girl. Still, that couldn't have taken more than twenty minutes. Maybe half an hour, if I count talking to Jennifer afterwards. Other than that, for what I've seen she hasn't left the car and it's almost lunchtime before she gives up and drives away. Once the surprise settles down, I'm starting to worry. It's almost closing time and I still haven't heard from mother. I wonder if I should call her to pick me up until I realize she might have already left. A wave of relief flushes over me until I remember that I don't know if she took the spare key to my apartment. No doubt she was angry when she left. Who knows what she would do. I just hope she's left me the suitcase.

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