Christina didn’t mention the party again. Then, the night of the party, a black Camaro pulled into the driveway and idled there. The neighbors’ hound started barking. And then Christina came downstairs, wearing her winter jacket. They locked eyes.
“I’m going,” Christina said.
“No, you’re not.”
Christina went for the door. Jill stepped in front of her. Jill was tall and lanky. Christina was built like her father: short, stocky, and strong.
“I’m old enough to make my own decisions,” Christina said.
“I say you’re not and I’m your mother.”
“Dad said it was okay,” said Christina.
“Dad isn’t here.”
“I know, you dumped him.”
Jill felt slapped. “I had good reason,” said Jill.
Christina looked over Jill’s shoulder at the rumbling sports car.
“Go tell him to leave without you,” Jill said, and stepped aside.
Christina went outside and climbed into the passenger seat.
Jill followed her outside. “Roll your window down!” she shouted to the driver.
She could see Christina pressing the driver’s arm. The window came down, revealing a young man’s thin face.
“Are you Todd?” Jill asked.
“Yeah,” said Todd. He looked at Jill with wide eyes.
“How old are you, Todd?”
“You know my daughter is a minor, don’t you?”
“She turns seventeen in February,” said Todd. The fact that he knew this frightened her.
“I have not given her permission to go with you,” said Jill. “If you leave with her, I’m calling the sheriff. Would you like to explain to them—”
“Mom, stop it!”
“—what you’re doing with a minor female?”
Todd turned to Christina and said something inaudible.
“Seriously?” Christina said.
A moment later, Christina stomped back into the house. Jill followed her inside as the Camaro rumbled away. The bedroom door upstairs slammed. Jill left her alone. And the next day, Christina made plans to see her father. Rick came to pick her up. He stepped into the living room and waited there while Christina gathered her things upstairs.
“She’s trying to hang out with some older boy,” Jill told him as he waited.
Rick shrugged. He locked his eyes on at the stairs Christina would descend at any moment.
“So you probably should keep an eye on that,” said Jill.
“Yup,” said Rick.
“I know you think I’m a nag,” said Jill. “But I’m serious. She’s being defiant.”
“She’s a teenager,” said Rick coldly.
Jill went to the kitchen. Christina came downstairs and left with Rick. Neither said goodbye.
Christina came home the next day and would not talk to Jill. Gradually they began speaking again. But it was the first revolution in a new cycle. Christina would ask permission for something unreasonable—a date with a known pothead, a weekend at someone’s unsupervised camp, a sleepover with a girl Jill considered a bad influence. And each time Jill said “No,” Christina would scream, slam doors, pout, and spend the next night on her father’s couch.
Laying on Christina’s floor, Jill wonders if she should’ve seen this coming.