I go numb when I see her, my brain just completely shuts down. She's like a beautiful tanned ghost.
"I've missed you so much, baby." There's no guile in her voice, just pure genuine sensitivity. I am nearly floored by it. I would be if I wasn't frozen in place. Her hair is longer, lighter and sleeker than I've ever seen it and she looks simply perfect dressed in bleached jeans and a short brown leather jacket. She seems younger and somehow more human.
I look into her eyes. They're taking up more space than they used to and they're wet. Something has happened that changed her. It's not just the obvious plastic surgery. What's inside of he has also had a makeover. The person looking back at me is not the same as the woman who made me go here. I can look at her and tell the difference but I have no voice, no idea how to respond to this person that claims to be my mother. Why did she come? My contract isn't over yet. There are no words that would ever be good enough. I can never go back to being blissfully ignorant. I don't even want to. Even if what I'm seeing is true and by some miracle she came here out of some sense of remorse to repent, it's too late. Not everything that gets broken can be fixed.
She comes towards me and I recoil, but she keeps coming at me until my back is against the wall. The heat of her body is almost too much. She's wearing the same scent and I grow soft and warm inside as her fingers fold around my own.
"Haven't you missed me?"
I stare at the floor. It's probably the first time I've seen her wear sneakers outside of the gym. I don't want to look at her face now. I've glimpsed the expression in her eyes and I will cave in. Already the only thing I want to tell her is how much I've missed her. I chew on the inside of my cheek till the metallic taste of blood fills my mouth but the pain doesn't take away my desire to please her. I'm still the same sick person I've always been. Evidentially nothing in the world is ever going to change that. I was a fool to think I could ever be different.
"Answer me." Her voice is impatient at most, no traces of annoyance, exasperation, irritation or madness. Nothing like I expected. The hand lifting up my face is gentle, tender even and I shiver when I finally look at her. I open my mouth but no words come out.
"It's okay, Davie. I understand." She says as she wraps her arms around me and pulls me close. It's weirdly comforting and upsetting at the same time. My throat clogs up and my eyes burn.
She's so small without her heels, smaller than I am without shoes. She's so much more human and disarming than I remember. It's confusing. I want to believe she's truthful. I want to believe she's missed me and regrets sending me here and all that stuff. I desperately want to believe she is reformed, and it seems that way but this is Vivienne. It's easier to trust a rabid dog won't bite you than to think change is even a possibility when it comes to her. My mind is ringing with all the alarm bells going off inside it. So many red flags it's nearly impossible to think at all. My body believes her. It's already responding to her familiar call. I have to be better than that.
I pull myself together gather all my strength and push her off me. I've never done that before, not like this. I watch her tumble to the floor and then get out of the hall. I can't be in the same room with her, not if I want to stay strong. I go into the dining room. She's probably going to come after me, so any room with a bed or a couch would just be a bad idea. I wish I wasn't here alone. I wish I would have had time to prepare for this, but I also know it wouldn't have made a difference. If I'm not prepared by now I never will be ready and I never will be truly free. I take a seat on the dining room table and just wait.
It doesn't take long for her to find me. She opens the door and comes straight at me.
I don't move. I could but I get a mental image of her chasing me around the table that makes it seem futile.
"What has she taught you? Does she like you feisty? Cause I don't. Not at all."
"It doesn't matter what you want, not anymore." I manage to squeeze out.
She keeps some distance between us but her eyes are still too close to my soul. I look at my watch. Adrienne will be back in half an hour, maybe later. I wish she would come home right now. A lot can happen in thirty minutes or more. I'm scared I won't be able to solve this problem without her.
"Don't be ridiculous, Davina. Of course it matters what I want. I know you have missed me too."
She calls me Davina, somehow that's the most unbearable thing of all. She's also displaying a remarkable amount of restraint, she doesn't even sound angry.
"Why are you here? My time isn't up yet."
"I know. I don't want you to finish this job. I want you to come home. I've missed you so much. I need you."
What I wouldn't have given to hear her speak those exact words only a few months ago. Now they just scare me. I'm not strong enough, even if I want to be.
"I don't care."
She takes one more step in my direction and I regret ever sitting down on the table due to the total lack of escape routes.
"Maybe you don't believe me, but you obviously care." She reaches out to caress my arm and I flinch.
"Do you want to know how I know?" She continues.
She's right. I didn't notice it before but I am. They aren't happy tears as she seems to assume. I'm not crying because I'm so touched by her false words, her fake expression or her sudden need to call me by my actual name. I'm crying because I'm angry and scared when I should be indifferent.
"You're too late. You have absolutely nothing I want anymore."
"Baby, you're wrong. She really messed with your head."
"She messed with my head?" I can't help but laugh although I know I just look like I'm crying hysterically.
"It's all part of her plan, Davie. Can't you see that?" She whispers and manages to catch my attention that way.
"What do you mean her plan?"
"Her plan to take you from me."
I think she's joking or going crazy but her voice is sane and serious, so are her eyes.
"You're crazy. You have finally gone over the edge."
She laughs. "Do you actually think she wanted you for you? Tell me Davie, did she treat you like a whore?" She takes a piece of paper out of her back pocket. It's a picture that she hands me.
It's old. Two girls are smiling freely into the camera, like they don't have a care in the world. They're both young, maybe sixteen. One of them has hair the color of the night and green eyes the color of swamp grass or something else that's dark green. I would recognize those eyes anywhere. The other girl is blonde, like me. Her face is like a younger reflection of mine. I've never seen any pictures of Vivienne when she was this young. She gave me a picture of her and Adrienne. I don't know the story yet, but all this is starting to make sense. Who would pay a truckload of money for a whore and never even touch her?
"We were in school together." Vivienne tells me. "Before I ever had you, she was my roommate and my lover. I was her first. I broke her heart. It got pretty ugly, baby. She even tried to kill herself. I found her just in time."
I feel sick. It's just not a nice thing to hear about someone you love.
"So you were in school together, so what?" The moment I ask her I hear the stupidity in my question.
"You don't really think it's a coincidence do you? You can't be that naïve. This is her revenge."
"It seems like a ridiculously elaborate way to get back at you. There must be faster and easier ways, if that was really all she wanted."
"You're the most important part of my life. Tell me that she didn't poison you against me."
"You forced me to take this job and then you abandoned me. You made me hate you all by yourself."
"Baby, listen to me." She takes my hand and I let her hold it.
"I was young and dumb and I treated her absolutely horribly. I deserve her revenge but you don't. Please come home with me. Forget her. You don't need her, but I need you."
"I won't come home with you. I'll stay here even after my contract has ended. I'll never come home with you again."
"Yes you will, today."
"You have to go." I say.
She doesn't listen. She presses her body against me and kisses me so ferociously I don't even notice my resolve not to give into her decompose. Her mouth is like a magnetizing source of joy and desire. Now that she's kissing me I remember that I have, indeed, missed her. Not a little bit but a lot. I don't know why I didn't remember before or why I was so scared. One of her hands is in the back of my neck while her other arm is firmly locked around my waist. I feel dizzy and gasp when I realize I forgot to breathe. She finds that encouraging. Both her hands move to my shoulders and she pushes me on my back, never taking her lips of me. I feel myself unraveling as that familiar sweet ache starts to course through me, gathering between my thighs. I'm drowning. Returning to what I once was with such ease it almost happens without me noticing.
"I missed you." I stammer as her mouth moves to my neck and her hands crawl beneath my clothes.
Nothing has changed, yet everything has. She straddles me, only to start unbuttoning her pants, getting off me for a second to take them off. Then she pulls her panties to the side and squats right above my face. This is new. I just stare at her pussy for a while, a bit too long maybe. I know it's dumb but I'm amazed and intimidated at the same time. Her hands find my nipples below the layers of fabric that cover them. She lowers her body, her sex covering my face.
"Come on. She must have taught you something."
I start to lick her to the best of my capacity. Her hands playing with my nipples, making me squirm, distracting me. She seems to like it a lot. Judging by her heavy breathing and the way she's rubbing herself all over my face. I listen to her breathing, at least I try. I try to focus my attention on the pleasure I want to give her. It's difficult to breathe with her pussy blocking my mouth and nose, so I have to take mini breaks for a gulp of air every now and then. I've never heard her moan like this before and after a while I'm so close to cumming myself that I moan with her, be it muffled.
"Are you enjoying the show?" She says and it takes a while for me to realize she's not talking to me. No one answers. I want to evaporate.
"Cat caught your tongue, Addie?"
"I just didn't expect to find you here Elizabeth."
I want her to get off my face now but she doesn't. She rotates her hips and grasps my hair.
"Don't stop now, baby." She tells me. I try to go on, which is not easy now that her entire weight is resting on my face.
"Get off her."
"What do you care? If she chokes I'll lose her too. That is what you want, am I right, Addie?"
"You're crazy. Get off her."
Vivienne sighs and gets off me.
"Tell her Addie. You don't care about her at all. You don't want me to have her, but not because you want her for yourself."
"You know nothing of what I want."
"You can't have her, she's mine." Vivienne says as she's picking her pants of off the floor.
"She's a person not a possession."
"I gave birth to her, she loves me. I own her."
"You want money? Name your price."
"Oh!" She throws her head back in a gesture that is anything but flattering and lets out a cackling laugh that would make Ursula the sea witch jealous. She hardly looks like a real person anymore, more like a caricature of the woman she once was. Adrienne and Vivienne are the same age but her plastic surgery addiction has taken her down a road no one should ever set foot on. She's gone too far. Nothing about her looks natural, young or pretty. She looks weird. I honestly think Adrienne looks younger than she does.
"You actually really care for her. It's no longer just about revenge, is it? Adrienne the alien. You are gonna get your little heart broken, doll."
"Eight? Nine? Ten? How much to get you out of her life? I'll pay. I don't care."
She buttons up the final button of her pants and then she moves towards Adrienne until she's standing right in front of her.
"I remember why I loved you." She says, and literally nothing could have surprised me more. "You always were too good for me. Let me tell you something, you're too good for Lola as well. Besides, you can't give her what she needs."
"You're wrong, you don't even know her. You can't even see beyond the character you created for her."
"That's because there is nothing more. Lighten Up Addie, this isn't a movie. Not all hookers have depth. Davina happens to not have any depth, she likes being what she is. And she's good at her job, isn't she? If she wasn't we wouldn't be having this conversation right now." Her voice is very sweet.
Vivienne moves in presses her body into Adrienne's. I'm still sitting on that table, frozen. I watch how my mother's closeness affects the woman I love. The woman I thought loved me. Maybe she doesn't. Maybe she only likes me because I remind her of my mother.
"Why did you do it? If you did love me then why did you break... me?"
Vivienne puts her hands around Adrienne's face, and Adrienne starts to tremble.
"Because I had no choice. I would lose you eventually so I chose Davina over you. And today she'll pick me over you."
"That doesn't make any sense. She wasn't even born then."
"It was inevitable that she would be. You were right you know."
I can do nothing but observe as Vivienne kisses Adrienne. Their lips melt together and I feel my heart shrivel up inside my chest. It goes on for way too long not to mean anything.
"If you're so convinced Davina will come back to you, you might as well leave now and let her make up her own mind about it."
She laughs again but slightly less dramatic this time.
"Sure. She says. "I'm not afraid to take that risk. You've lied to her, you've betrayed her. Oh and you're not me. She's not going to stay with you. Not a chance in hell."
Vivienne leaves and Adrienne sits down on the table next to me.
"Are you gonna be okay?" She asks.
"Is she right?" I croak. My throat is all clogged up and it's almost impossible to talk.
"Let me make you some tea." She says and before I can respond I'm alone. I don't want any tea. I want her here so she can answer my question. I get up and follow her into the kitchen.
I watch her in complete silence as she fills up the kettle, gets two glasses out of a cupboard and measures the ground tealeaves in a sieve. She is an absolute tea snob, refuses to drink the bagged stuff even if it's far more convenient and a lot less leafy. I like that about her. I like everything about her. That's why I don't want to know if she only hired me as part of her weird revenge plot. It's also why I have to know, if the one thing in my life that didn't revolve around Vivienne was just as much about her as everything else.
I want her to tell me it's just a coincidence. Sure it's hard to believe but I really want her to tell me that it's just a serendipitous turn of events. If she does we'll never speak of Vivienne again. I smile just thinking about that possibility and the thick cake of Vivienne's dried up juices are crumpling crunchingly with the movement of my face. It's a smelly mask and now that I'm aware of it seems implausible I didn't smell it sooner. I feel dirty. I wash my face thoroughly in the sink.
When Adrienne hands me the honey sweetened tea I put some cold water in it and drink. I always do. I'm just too impatient to wait for it to cool down. Adrienne has shown her disapproval of that habit many times before but today she doesn't say a word. She just looks at me silently as I sit down at the small kitchen table.
The tea does wonders for my throat.
"So tell me." I finally ask.
"You've seen my scars, but I never told you who put them there." She's stirring her own tea furiously, her eyes following the small vortex in her glass. She doesn't even take sugar or honey in her tea.
"Vivienne cut your wrists open?" It's not hard to imagine Vivienne doing exactly that but Adrienne shakes her head.
"She didn't cut me open, I did. Her real name is Lizzy, Elizabeth. Did you know that?"
"No." Add that to the giant list of things I never knew about my mother. Things I'll most likely never discover unless I find other people willing to share them with me.
"So she dumped you and you were so heartbroken you wanted to die. Like in that movie." I'm trying my hardest to be sensitive about it.
"Not exactly. Yes she broke my heart but that wasn't why I wanted to die. I could have dealt with a normal break up. It would have been hard, but she…"
"She had to take it one step further?" I fill in the blanks and watch her nod. She's avoiding my eyes. There is a first time for everything. It has been over 23 years but she is still not fully over it. I'm a complete idiot. All this time I've been falling for someone who's still in love with Vivienne. She's not into me at all. I probably just reminded her of her precious "Lizzy."
"You know how Vivienne has the power to make you feel special? Like really special in the sense that you're better than anyone else and she would do anything for you?"
Oh I know what she's talking about and I know what she's going to say next.
"She can twist that power around." She goes on. "She can make you feel so insignificant you want to die. I think she could make anyone feel shitty enough to at least consider dying. I was just more sensitive to feeling that way. I went from the highest high, straight into the abyss. I couldn't take it, cause I wasn't strong." She lifts her face up. She's exactly the same person as she was this morning, but now everything has changed. I can't un know this. I really want to forget but this is only half the story and already I find it unbearable.
"Has she ever made you feel like that?" This time I lower my eyes. I'm done talking about me and Vivienne.
"I did want revenge." She whispers. "I've never hired an escort before. I never wanted to. I blamed Vivienne for every failed relationship, and my inability to find someone to make a meaningful connection with. I wanted to do something. So I hired a guy to find out where Lizzy was and what her life was all about. Who the people were she cared about. He only came up with you, so I rushed to get you here."
"What was your plan?" It's hard for me to talk, my head feels heavy and my stomach is twisting.
"I didn't think it through. I didn't know if I wanted to hurt you or take you from her. She didn't seem to care as much as I'd hoped she would." She pauses, drinking from her tea.
"When I saw your site and your interview you looked just like her. I thought it would be easy to come up with something. The two of you seemed so close I assumed you were basically the same person, but.."
"You discovered I only looked like your first love. So in a way you could be with her again." My face is wet. She gets up and wipes my tears away. It only makes me cry harder.
"No. It's not like that. You made me forget all about her. You are so not what I expected you to be. You are so much more than Lizzy ever was."
"How can I believe that now?"
"Getting to know you is the best thing that ever happened to me, Davie. Yes I want you to stay with me indefinitely but not because I want to punish some stupid bitch who fucked me up 23 years ago. I want you to stay because of you."
I've been wanting to hear those words, but now they're moot. It's not right anymore. It's completely ruined.
She brings my hand to her lips and kisses my palm.
"Will you stay with me?"
"Do you think Vivienne will cause trouble? If she won't leave you alone I could just buy you, so to speak. Money seems to make her happier than anything."
"Please don't." I Whisper.
"Okay I won't. I don't care either way as long as you stay."
"You can't do what, honey."
Looking at her is one of the things I can't do. I can't force the words I have to say but don't want to say out of my throat. Even imagining leaving, not spending so much time with Adrienne is so painful it hurts to think about it. But I can't stay. Not another day. I wish I could. I don't want to go back to Vivienne at all. I don't want to go backwards, but I'm also convinced it will be easy to just slide right back into Lola. If anything, what just happened has showed me just how easy.
I take a deep breath and then spit out the words that are like gravel in my mouth.
"I can't stay here, with you. I want to but I can't. Not now."
"What do you mean?" She murmurs.
"You know what I mean. I have to go back."
"Back to her? Are you insane?"
"Davina, I love you."
"You know I do. I love you more than anything, and you love me too."
"I do love you, that much is true."
"You can't be serious." Her eyes tear up and I have to look away.
"She loves me. Me, not someone she met 23 years ago." I say.
"I love you. I don't think she ever has. We've been over this." Her voice is shaky and she tries to take my hand but I don't let her.
"You taught me I shouldn't let myself be manipulated. I trusted you. I was wrong. You are no better than Vivienne. She's right, she's my mother and I love her."
"Davie, you can't go back, not ever. She'll only hurt you."
"She could never hurt me as much as you have. I know who she is, who she wants me to be. I'll be that person. It's less painful, I promise."
I can't stay to watch the tears that formed drip down her face. I turn around and leave. I don't take any of my stuff I just walk out the front door and pull it shut behind me. I walk a couple of blocks and then hail a cab.