She threw clothes into suitcases. Shirts, skirts, tops, blouses, everything. She knew she should’ve taken her time and folded her clothes more neatly but she didn’t have time. It had finally come, the acceptance letter she’d been waiting for. She for darn sure wasn’t going to waste another moment fretting about whether her shirt was folded neatly enough.

She’d just finished her second suitcase when she heard the front door open and slam shut. Her heart skipped several beats and then commenced to pound. Each foot fall that echoed was another several beats. She continued packing.

A figure stood in front of her door, spilling shadows into her room.
“Hello mother.” Her tone was stiff, she knew it. She could feel her tension building, she was ready for the fight, she knew, would soon start.

Her mother leaned against the door frame. “Are you planning on going somewhere?” The sarcasm dripped from her voice like honey, minus the sweetness.

Tucking the shirt in her hand in the last free corner of her suitcase she turned. Her facec neutral, her voice as neutral as she could keep it. “Yes, yes I am mother. I got in. The sent my acceptance letter this afternoon and so I started packing.”

Her mother adjusted her stance and slowly folded arms under her breasts. “I see. You didn’t think you needed to talk to me first? You didn’t think you should discuss this with your mother?”

She said nothing. She knew where this conversation was headed and if she spoke up now she’d only accelerate it. Choosing silence, she continued to pack.

“How are you going to get there? I’m certainly not paying for your ticket? Where are you going to stay? I hope you’re not planning on staying with that boy. Ha, you are aren’t? Don’t be stupid. That boy doesn’t want you there. How are you even going to get all of your stuff there? Answer me!”

She closed her third suitcase and set it on the floor aside the others. Just two more and she’d be done. “A friend is taking me to airport in a couple hours. Yes, I plan on staying with “that boy” for a few days while I vet the apartments I’ve already made appointments with. School starts next week. I don’t have a lot of time to waste. As for how I’m going to pay for everything. I’m taking out loans. I hate doing it but its a necessary evil and at this point, if it’ll get me to my goal, I’ll do just about anything.

Her mother scoffed. “Anything like shack up with that boy right?”

She turned now and stare her mother directly in the eye. “Yes.”

Her mother’s hands slowly dropped to her side, her jaw slacked, she eyed her daughter in disbelief. “I raised you better than that! How dare you!”

She picked up her carry on bay, doubling checking to make sure her laptop, passport, and wallet were all in their respective compartments.

“I know he’s not your favorite even though you can’t give me a reason why and he’s never been anything but respectful to you, despite your cold reception of him last fall. You go out of your way to be mean. Why? I don’t get it. Anyone listening to you talk right now would think that I was the worst daughter a woman could have but I am not! I’ve done my best to be useful, helpful, subservient. I ignore you mean comments. I clean, dust, tend this house the way I know you want me to. I know it took longer than either of us hoped for me to get my feet off the ground but seriously? Why are you like this?!”

Her mother stormed from her post by the door and stood a few inches from her daughter’s face.

“Why am I like this?! How else could be in the face of such an ungrateful daughter! I’ve made all the sacrifices with you and this is  how you repay me? Sneaking off into the night to go to some butt feeder school and shack up with some boy?! Is this what I worked for?!”

She was about to respond when her mother swung. Time slowed for her as she watched her mother’s hand collide with her face. The air hissed, the connection of skin to skin, searing. She recoiled, cradling her singed jaw in her hand. Her mother froze. A look of shock plastered across her face. She took a few shaky steps back.

Her hand still glued to her face, she used the other to beginning take suitcases down the stairs. She dropped her carryon and a suitcase by the front door and jogged back up the steps. She went back into the room for another suitcase, ignoring her mother who was seated on her bed.

As she brought down the last suitcase the door bell rang. She opened the door. Her friend’s beaming smile faltered and dropped away completely when she saw her face. “Oh my- what happened?! Are you ok?!”

She shook her head, “Can you just start loading this stuff up? I have one more thing to do upstairs.” Her friend slowly nodded and began loading up the car.

She took the stairs one by one, holding onto the railing as if it would give her the strength to climb the next stair. Instead of rounding the corner to her room she walked straight ahead and entered the master bedroom. She reached in her back pocket and took out to letters. She left one letter on each side of the bed for her parents and walked out of the room.

Her mother stood at the doorway of her bedroom. They stood in silence for a moment. She spoke first. “I left a letter for both you and dad. My flight takes off about an hour and a half from now and I’ll arrive two an half hours after that. I’ll let you know when I land.”

AS she started towards the stairs her mother reached out. Seeing the movement out the corner of her eye she jerked back, her back now against the railing. Her mother let her hand fall. She sighed. “Have a safe trip.”

She looked at her mother. The tears streaming down her face, the sadness in her now down-casted eyes, and fought to keep her own in check. This was her mother but couldn’t bring herself to say the things she felt she should. She couldn’t bring herself to hug her own mother or say, “its ok mom, I forgive you”, she just couldn’t do it anymore. Five years of misery and loneliness were enough. She checked her room one last time to make sure had everything and left the house, closing the front door behind her.

Rectitude