“This is all your fault, Mom.” Jenny Leffer sat on her suitcase, ignoring the bustle of people in the train station and gazing morosely at the engagement ring in her hands.
Her mother straightened on the bench, a hand flying over her heart. “My fault? How is this my fault?”
Jenny lifted her sad, blue eyes. “If you hadn’t been such a supportive gay activist, I’d still be in the closet, and I never would’ve dated Danielle. Which means I never would’ve humiliated myself by asking her to marry me.”
The older woman tilted her head. “That was a very brave thing you did. I’m proud of you. But I never told you to do that in a crowded restaurant.”
“I know,” Jenny groaned, cradling her head in her hands. “I’ve seen too many movies. I mean, how do they always propose in a restaurant and make it seem so romantic? How could I possibly have misjudged everything so badly?” She shook her head in dismay. “I was ready to marry her, and she was ready to break up with me? How does that even happen?”
Her mother leaned forward and rubbed Jenny’s back. “It’s like that time I was at the grocery store, and the stock boy said the melons were fresh, and I thanked him for the compliment by giving him my number.”
Jenny sighed. “Mom, that is nothing like what I went through.”
“Maybe so, but I like to think I still have what it takes.” She proudly adjusted her bra.
“You do, Mom. And if Dad was still here, he’d say so too.”
“He would. Bless his naughty little heart. You know what he’d tell you right now?”
“Nothing a little weed can’t fix?” Jenny guessed.
“Yes. And that you’ve still got what it takes too.” She touched Jenny’s nose for emphasis.
Jenny looked down at the flab overlapping her jeans. “I think I have a little too much.”
“Nonsense. Women have curves. That’s all there is to it.”
“Mom, Danielle gave me a gym membership for my birthday.”
“That girl is an unnatural bean pole.”
Jenny chuckled dejectedly. Her ex was actually athletic, with gorgeous dark skin, wide brown eyes, and—.
Her mom snapped her fingers in front of her daughter’s face. “Stop that.”
“Boarding the wrong train.”
Jenny sighed again, unsure if the heaviness she felt was from embarrassment or a broken heart.
An announcement echoed through the station.
“That’s me.” Jenny pushed to her feet.
“You don’t have to go, you know. You can stay with me as long as you like.”
“Thanks, Mom. I know. But I already accepted the job, and I need to do this.”
“You realize this is running away.”
Jenny fought back a pout. “It’s seizing an opportunity. A management position.”
Her mother sighed. “My daughter, the manager. I suppose I can get used to it.”
“It’s better than my daughter, the retail peon.”
“What I want is my daughter, the happy. Come here.” She held her arms out wide.
Jenny stepped into the embrace and leaned over to kiss the top of her mother’s head. She’d always been there for her only daughter, cheering her on no matter what Jenny chose to do, offering advice whether she asked for it or not, and bolstering her flagging ego when she felt trampled. Her mother made life bearable and less confusing.
But she was twenty-five now. Maybe it was time for a little independence.
It would be strange living away from her, though. She did love her dearly. But it was time. It’s easy to be brave when you know your mother will be there to pick up the pieces. It was time to be brave on her own.
In a new city.
Where she knew no one.
Jenny swallowed as she pulled out her train ticket.
What in the world was she doing?