A/N: This is my first original fic and my first foray into Sapphic literature. If you have any construction criticism please review. Thanks.

Minor revision: 1/13/08

Chapter 1

The Moment

This is the story about Mother-daughter angst and about the blossoming of womanhood. That sounds dreadfully boring, but actually it is an exciting ride that begins with my Mother and me.

My official name is Juliana Lee Powell; though it is not the name my parents gave me at birth. (But that's another story.) You can call me Juls. The antagonist in this story is my Mother, Genevieve Victoria Powell. Isn't that name a mouthful? Of course, I use "antagonist" in its literary sense, because, well, Mom is an English teacher at Texarkana Falls High School. She is the epitome of prim and proper. I don't even think she makes grammar mistakes when she gets drunk. Of course, Genevieve Powell does not drink, does not smoke and she will thank you kindly not to give her Christian name any diminutives. In other words, don't call her Gen or Eve.

Genevieve is very pretty with piercing blue eyes, short blonde hair that is always precisely coiffured. Precise should be her middle name, in fact. Even though she is just teaching English at the local (and only) high school, she dresses impeccably in smart pantsuits with matching silk blouses from Ellen Tracy. Her hands are always manicured in the French style. Oh, did I mention she is the head of the English Department at the school. I think she's had that job from before I was born.

I had the utter misfortune to be born third after my brother Robert Crenshaw Powell and my sister Victoria Powell Wright. Shaw, as my brother is called, is a big man just like our Dad. In fact, they both joke that they are 5 foot 12 inches tall. Shaw tans easily and looks like my Dad, his namesake. Shaw is the perfect son. He got straight As in school, including Honors English, taught by our own Mother. (Did I mention that Texarkana Falls is very small?) He was the star running back on the Fighting Tigers football team, coached by – you guessed it – dear old Dad. (Go Tigers!) (But Dad doesn't do that anymore. More on him later in my story.) Shaw graduated with a degree in Athletic Training and married the perfect woman. Sabina Thibodeaux Powell is the daughter of the Head Deacon of a Baptist church in Louisiana, where she is from. They met in college at Stephen F. Austin State University. She used to teach at Texarkana Falls High School, but she decided you couldn't throw a stick without hitting a Powell there. So. Now she teaches at a Catholic High School in the next town. (Gasp! The Horror.) They have two kids, T. Rob and Josette.

Victoria, my sister, was named after Mom. She is a carbon copy of Mom, except for the parts that are like Dad. She has naturally brown hair, though she colors it. But please, don't mention it! I did, to my everlasting regret. Victoria and Mom are very well suited to be Mother and daughter. They love to shop, primp, decorate and, well, basically all the things that I couldn't give a flip about. Victoria used to teach (English, of course) until Jack Wright saved her from a life of toil. Now she stays home with their two children, Alice-Claire and Jack Jr.

Then there's me. Like I said, I was born after the children of perfection. I am the child of my parents' old age – in, other words, a whoops! baby. (Though my parents started early and aren't that old.) I love all things sports: volleyball, basketball and football in the fall; baseball, track and tennis in the spring. That is how my whole world is divided, not by seasons, but by sports. Playing and watching are my passions. (I'm counting my coaching as part of the watching.) I have every shade of sweatpants you could imagine and my shoes are of the tennis variety. I have mule shoe tennis shoes, open toe tennis shoes, high heeled tennis shoes, tennis shoes that look like ballerina slippers and...I think you get the idea. I was a star athlete in high school, like Shaw, but unlike Shaw and Victoria, I struggled with academics, with English in particular, much to my Mother's deep and abiding shame.

"This is your Mother tongue, for heaven's sake. How can you fail English?" She has oft told me.

"What does a diagram of a sentence have to do with getting me a job? Nuthin'."

"Nothing," she corrected.

"Exactly." Of course, when we conversed it was usually like talking in circles. I interjected enough bad grammar to aggravate her. But not enough for her to realize it was a game. (I think.) She tried constantly to "enlighten" me, of course. Mind games are not the worst thing I ever did. One time, as a freshman, I gathered about 10 stray cats and locked them in my Mother's classroom overnight. I would have gotten away with it if a). my guilt-ridden best friend Peanut hadn't spilled the beans to her mother, who promptly called Mother and father. (You see, Dad was, by this time, the High School principal. I know, but remember it's a small town!) Where was I? Oh, yes...and b). If my student ID hadn't fallen out of my pocket. (Oops, that was a sentence fragment.)

(I had managed to argue successfully that I had gotten money from Mom for lunch so, having my ID in the vicinity of the crime did not make me guilty.) Needless to say, I got in trouble for the prank and for lying. (Mom and Dad were sticklers about ethics. Mom was the daughter of the Church Music Director and Dad was the son of the longtime pastor at First Baptist Church of Texarkana Falls. They met there when they were 14. We all go there now.

For my punishment, I had to clean up the room, which in my view should have been the only retribution I should have received. I mean, really, have you ever smelled cat spray? But I also got grounded from the "Fall Fling for Freshman" dance and I actually got smacked by my Mother. She was so mad at me she could have just spit. Her exact words.

Then Dad got a hold of me and I had detention for a month and I was benched from the Volleyball team. Does that sound like they are pretty strict? Well, actually that wasn't the first practical joke at Mother's expense; hence, the harsher treatment. But it wasn't the last one either. I had five glorious years of pranks. (I failed one year.) There was the time I changed the school marquis to leave an obscene message for my parents. (I didn't caught for that one.) Or the time I arranged to have UPS deliver some erotic lingerie to my Mother in a conspicuous box at school, where a signature was required. (I got caught because I used my credit card. Not smart.) Or the time, my Mom rode around town for a few days with condoms hanging from the tail pipe and bumper of her blue Dodge Stealth. (I did not get caught on that one.) Of course these are all drops in a large bucket of water and not the subject of today's story. (Maybe another time.)

After I graduated from high school, I went to college at Texas A&M University. It was a dream party school, where I managed to cram four years of school into six. My parents stopped paying after the fifth year. I was studying Kinesiology because I wanted to be a coach. When I graduated, I wanted to coach the girls varsity volleyball and basketball teams at a high school. But guess what? They usually don't give those jobs out to first-year coaches. Well, they don't in good places to live like San Antonio or Austin. They do in Texarkana Falls, especially when that coach retired after 35 years. So guess where I teach now? You guessed it! I've been at Texarkana Falls High School for 5 years now.

Actually, everything was going quite well. I lived across town from my parents, even though Shaw and Vic (she hates that nickname) live two blocks from Mom and Dad, who, in turn, live two blocks from the school. Their whole lives (and mine, I suppose) revolve around the school. And the church. So anyway, everything was going well. Mom and I had actually achieved some sort of détente. Then "She" came.

This is the story of Miss Travis Wood, how she came between my Mother and I, bridged the rift and how she gave me back my heart.

I remember the first time I saw Travis Wood. We had an in-service for all teachers. Travis was the new Freshman English teacher that Mom had hired. Travis seemed to be the perfect fit. She had taught at large schools for 15 years, after graduating from Texas Tech with a Bachelor's and Master's degree (simultaneously) in English Literature and Composition Education.

She had also managed to get a Ph.D. along the way, though why anyone would want one in a language they knew from birth was beyond me. She was a published author of short fiction stories and her personality promised to make her well loved by students. On the day I first saw her, her shiny, brown hair was left down to her waist. She wore smart paint suits with very high heels to match. She wore a single gold chain and a bracelet on her right hand. Actually, she was a lot like my Mother. (Eww, that thought is going to put me in therapy for at least two years. So I am not going there.)

But Travis was also not like my Mother. She was relaxed and didn't feel any overarching need to control everyone and everything. She smiled easily. It was a delicate expression on her that lit up her eyes and took her from pretty to beautiful. Her lips were full and promised a passion that she was careful to bridle. She also seemed to have a working knowledge of sports. A good point in my book.

So anyway, my Mother was introducing her to everyone, except me, of course. (But don't think bad of my Mother. We usually avoided each other at school. It was our way of a truce. It worked, OK?) I didn't talk to Travis then, but she took my breath away. No one had ever done that to me. I had dated guys, set up by Peanut, of course. (Peanut was still stuck in Texarkana Falls, too. But she was glad we were stranded together – well, me, Peanut and her husband Marco were stranded together.) I told her not to get knocked up because once she had babies in Texarkana Falls, she was tied here regardless of her plans. Or as I like to say "irregardless," because that drives my Mother crazy.

Anywho, I had learned at A&M that I was interested in both men and women, though only men so far had rung my bell. (Wink, wink.) Peanut says it's just a phase. Mom and Dad don't know at this point in the story. They know now, of course.

Half the fall semester was almost over when Travis and I finally spoke to each other. I was in the faculty lounge enjoying a baloney and cheese sandwich with a side of potato chips. (When you run, jump and walk everywhere, a girl can calorically afford some cheap sausage and empty carbs.) I was talking to one of my Mother's colleagues. His name was Mac Brewster. Despite teaching sophomore English, he was an OK guy. (But I don't like him in that way. That last sentence was for Peanut's benefit.)

Then Travis came in. She looked about and saw only Mac and I. "Mackenzie, how can you tolerate that woman?" she said. She did not even notice me at that point. (The story of my life in one sentence.)

"What do you mean?" he asked.

"She actually expects me to require a comprehensive, closed book writing final exam for first semester freshman. Who does that? What sane person does that?"

I gathered here that the pronoun she in the above paragraph referred to my Mother – that she! I was smirking, of course, because a). Everyone knew that Genevieve Powell was my Mother and b). No one said anything bad about either of us to, well, either of us. But Travis did not know Fact A and so Fact B was about to be breached. Big time.

She continued in an agitated manner that I found completely charming. "Genevieve Powell is insufferable!" she declared at last.

Now, I was grinning and not feeling in the least bit uncomfortable. "Have you told her your issues?" I asked innocently. No one tells my Mother what one thinks unless one knows in advance that they are in full agreement. Well, no one but me, that is. That would have been mean of me to ask if Travis hadn't just come from my Mother's office.

"Of course, I did." She said matter-of-factly. She finally noticed me and put her delicate manicured hands on her slender hips. She gave me a grave expression, but her eyes twinkled.

"So? What did she say?" I asked, gesturing for her to get on with it. At this point, Mac was trying to interrupt both of us so he could lay all the cards on the table. Said cards being my relationship to Genevieve Powell. But Travis was a woman who was also used to getting her way. The difference between her and my Mother was Travis appeared to have more tools in her belt than just a hammer.

Travis lifted her clear green eyes, as if remembering, while a thin, elegant, clawed finger tapped her perfect chin. "After I expressed my reservations, she stared at me for what seemed to be almost five minutes..."

"Did her eyes blink emphatically at you?" I interjected.

Her finger stopped tapping. "Yes, yes, she did. She then informed, no...she directed me to give my new students a comprehensive, closed book written final exam. She further informed me that we had high standards here at Texarkana High. The sheer audacity of that woman!"

I snickered. Finally, Mac stood and blurted out. "Travis Wood this is Juliana Powell, a coach here and the daughter of ..."

"Oh. My. God." Travis was genuinely bewildered. "You are her daughter."

"Well, technically speaking, I am the child of two people, as are most everybody, except Jesus, of course. So yes."

Travis turned three shades of red. She sat down in front of me and covered my hands with her own. (Her hands were warm and soft and this spontaneous act was not entirely unpleasant or unwelcome for me.) "I will do your laundry for two months, if you never, ever tell anyone, least of all your Mother, what I just said about her."

I left my hands were they were but it was certainly hard for me to talk in my usually animated way. "Oh, really, Travis. That is not necessary."

"OK, I will do your laundry for two months, wash your car – by hand! – for three months and make you dinner twice a week for one month."

With each phrase my grin got wider. This was fun, for me anyway. But I had no intention of taking advantage, though I was tempted.

"Travis, I will not tell my Mother what you said. Promise."

Still holding my hands, she placed her forehead on the table and proceeded to lightly bang it. "I cannot believe I did this. Can you ever forgive me?" She regarded me, with a warm, pleading smile.

I finally stood up, walked over to her side of the table and stuck out my soft, but thoroughly ignored hand. "Let's forget about the last 10 minutes, and start over. Hi, I'm Juliana Powell. Friends call me Juls. I coach volleyball and basketball and teach health classes here."

Travis favored me with a genuine smile that charmed me to my toes. She clasped my proffered hand, squeezing it. "I'm Travis Wood and I sometimes get athlete's mouth. I also teach Freshman English classes here."

"Where did you teach before this?" I inquired.

"Oh, I taught for seven years in Plano."

"Wow, you left the big city for our quaint hamlet, did you?" I also noticed she didn't release my hand either.

With the other hand, she waved off my question. "Oh, that. I just needed a change of pace." When the bell rang for sixth period to start, she realized she still held my hand. "Oh, I guess you will need that back, will you not?"

"Why, yes. Yes, I will. Good to meet you, Travis." I said, leaving.

"It was a pleasure, Juls."

Later, Mac told me how worried she was about what I call the "unfortunate incident." Mac tried to reassure her, but she worried anyway.

-------------------------------

It took Travis two more weeks to finally overcome her embarrassment to talk to me. We had lunchroom duty together. She lingered on one side of the lunchroom talking to some of her students while I was on the other side talking to some of my players. A few times, I had caught her watching me, but Travis would look away the instant I stirred. It was toward the end of lunch that we finally made unavoidable eye contact. I smiled and waved, which she returned with what seemed like apprehension. Then Travis gestured for us to meet in the middle of the lunchroom, which I did happily.

"Hi Travis. How are you?"

"Hi Juls. I'm fine. And you?"

"I am so happy I should be twins."

She grinned, one that made her beautiful eyes twinkle and her entire persona seem to glow.

"Well, I hope you believe Mac when he told you that my Mother and I don't talk shop. Ever, under any circumstances, unless it's to correct my grammar – like that last sentence."

She laughed again. "Yes, Mackenzie was very adamant about you and your Mother's – ah, what did he call it – cold war."

"So I hope it has gotten better for you."

She glanced away then back. It was enough of a hesitation to let me know that they had a cold war of sorts, as well. "Absolutely. We get along ... famously."

I knew she was lying. Genevieve Powell did not get along with people like Travis and I. We got along with her or we didn't get along at all.

"Listen," I said, trying to muster my friendliest voice. "Let's do breakfast or dinner some Sunday. What do you say?"

The lunch bell rang.

"That sounds like fun. I will call you by telephone."

I shook my head at her formal speech. It was endearing on the one hand but I wasn't sure if it was supposed to keep people at arm's length on the other hand. (Am I mixing my metaphors? Mother would not approve.)