Jo wrapped the coat around Charlene’s shoulders and hugged her, trying to extend a silent consolation in the hardness and the awkwardness that surrounded that night.
The veil of the sudden bizarre events started lifting, removing the fire of the imminent threats, leaving ample space for tiredness to finally catch up and throw a wave of heavy breathing over Charlene’s exhausted lungs and the heart that dwelled nearby. Tears welled up and she started sobbing in her friend’s arms, holding her tight while slowly starting to relax the clench of her fists. She hadn’t noticed that she was holding tension in her body and when they were finally driving home at the back of the taxi, she hugged her face with her hands and let the overwhelming depletion run over her.
Jo’s eyes were filling out with salty droplets too, but as she knew her friend had way more than her that night, she held her head high, only feeling the saltiness from the tiny clear pearl that quietly rolled out from her left eye on her cheek and passed her lips to dissolve through the tiny crack between her gums and her tongue. It was bitter, just like this Friday night. But Jo was the most conscious of all participants and the shock didn’t take her entirely. The silence broke up with the buzzing of Charlene’s phone.
Charlene didn’t even glance at the phone because she knew who was calling.
“It’s your mom”, said Jo, looking at the flashing screen. ”Oh, who am I kidding, you already know that’s her. Don’t take it, Char!”
Her mom was the only person who could call at any time, day or night, regardless of the time, the auspiciousness of the moment, or what everyone else was doing.
“There is a name for a people who disregard everyone else, pushing them as a priority all the time, over and over again until everyone’s reserves get depleted. And they still don’t have enough! You know what they are called, Char, and your mom is one of them!”, Jo snapped as she was watching her friend reach out for the phone for the thousandth time to answer the call.
Charlene was exhausted, miserable, and still partially in shock but her friend’s words made a difference. And before she pressed the answer button, she remembered Daniel changed behavior that evening. “It’s too early to tell, but people seem to change, after all”, she thought.
She was raised to think that close people, especially family, should be accepted for who they are and that she should tolerate abhorrent behavior when it comes from a family even if it’s detrimental for her.
But this night was the wake-up call she needed. She hit ‘reject’ instead of the green button, already waiting for what was coming next. There was another ringing splurge, and another one, after which Charlene squeezed her jaw in a simultaneous combination of desperation and relief, and finally turned off the phone, cutting the third ring half-way.
She was patiently getting ready to face her mother in the morning when she got some rest and gathered her thoughts.
However, Jo’s thumbs-up after she turned off the phone carried an ominous message: that Charlene should finally accept the truth that her mother will never change, and that the best course forward for her was to stop sugarcoating once and for all. The fact was that her mom was a narcissist. Charlene knew what ‘no contact’ meant but wasn’t ready for the full blow yet. She has too much lain on her chest and wanted to talk to her mom before and if she decided to cut her off forever.