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By Raziel Moore
Invisible Lines (Novella)

© 2003 by Jean Roberta

I don't remember exactly when I started "spying" on my daughter, as she put it, but I think it was about the time of her first period.  The old closeness between us was gone, and I knew she wasn't telling me everything.  I was desperate.

I had never wanted to be a controlling mother.  I just wanted Katie to be safe and surrounded by people who cared about her.  I couldn't trust her new friends.  She obviously had no idea what type of reaction her budding curves and sweet face could inspire in a teenage boy.  Or another girl.

"Mom, don't be mad." This seemed to be Katie's usual opening line, ever since she had started the current school year.  This time, her friend Sarah had pierced her ears, and the little steel studs looked remarkably even.  Even still, my heart jumped into my throat.

"Katie, do you know how dangerous it is to let some untrained person do that to you? I hoped she used an antiseptic, because otherwise you're guaranteed to get an infection." I heard my motherly voice coming out of my mouth in an endless stream while Katie rolled her eyes at me as I had done at my mother a generation before.  I wanted to say, "You're beautiful, and it scares me," but what good would that have done?

Having her father around would have done more harm than good.  He was a drinking man who had always blamed me for letting our child grow as wild as a dandelion, even when she was a baby.  I had moved out with Katie when she was four.  Her father had largely left us alone since he had remarried three years later.

"Anyway, I'm going out with Sarah and Lindsey and them tomorrow, so I'm telling you now, Mom.  I always tell you where I'm going." This was the voice of my child, sounding so arch, so incredibly patronizing.  Underneath that tone, though, I could hear what she wouldn't say: "I love you, Mom, and I won't get into any serious trouble.  Trust me."

"It's a school night," I reminded her. "Don't you have homework?"

Katie sighed, mimicking the patience of an indulgent parent with a demanding child. "I'll do it before I go, Mom.  We're just going for coffee.  It's no big deal."

I was secretly amazed at the number of friends whose names kept popping up in her conversations.  At her age, I had been shy, bookish and tormented with pimples.  Katie seemed to attract admirers like a spring flower attracting birds and bees, thus proving—what? That I had been more seductive than I (or anyone else) knew? That every generation fulfills the dreams of the one before?

I knew that Katie kept a diary because I had given it to her, and she told me she liked to write in it.  I could guess that it was probably in a bureau drawer with other precious trinkets.  I wasn't seriously tempted to look for it until the week of the pierced ears and the punk haircut.

What Lindsey did to Katie's hair was the last straw.  Young Lindsey, whose parents obviously tolerated her retro 1980s style and an older son who was on probation for breaking-and-entering, aspired to be a hairdresser.  Her best buddies, including my Katie, were willing to be her guinea pigs.  Katie came home from a sleepover on a quiet Sunday morning looking like a refugee from another planet.

My daughter's thick, formerly shoulder-length chestnut hair was completely shaved in the back and gelled into spikes in the front, except for one long, braided strand.  And the hair was green, which made it look like a badly-mowed lawn.

The next day, I searched Katie's messy room for evidence: dope, condoms, love notes, whatever I could find.  And that revealing diary.

I felt guilty, but not enough to withdraw.  I rummaged through girlish underwear, including a contraband red thong, feeling like an intruder.  I couldn't help wondering if Lindsey's brother had similar methods, and if the search for other people's valuables turned him on.

The diary was in her top drawer with tights, hair accessories and little plastic characters from recent movies. "Sarah told me she likes Jason today in algebra but I know he likes Michelle so I told her she could find someone better." Nothing too shocking there, even though this teenage plot told in vague pronouns had the makings of a Jane Austen novel.  I read on. "Mom thinks I'm still a child, but she's not as bad as Talisa's mom.  I don't know why she doesn't run away." It warmed me to know that Katie didn't think I was the World's Worst Mother.  Not yet.

Her diary was all about relationships: girl-to-girl, girl-to-teacher, girl-to-parent, girl-to-world.  References to boys were sprinkled throughout like glitter dust, but the boys she actually knew sounded no more real than the rock stars and actors whose personae signified Romance to her.

As far as I could tell, no male had had the chance to "get fresh" with my daughter, as my mother would put it.  My generation had used terms such as "making out" and "scoring." I realized that I had no idea how Katie and her friends defined their fumblings and gropings, if any.  I was relieved not to find any suggestive words, let alone incriminating confessions, or at least that was what I told myself.  I carefully left everything in Katie's room where I had found it.

Months passed.  Katie's hair grew out as her figure took on a more womanly shape.  Her dates with friends continued to be crowd scenes or tribal takeovers of targeted restaurants and family homes.  Her absences gave me a chance to read her diary without getting caught.  The soap opera was addictive.

Lindsey, of all people, won a scholarship to go to France for a summer.  Her brother was accused of date-rape by a girl who refused to go to the police.  Sarah got pregnant and decided to keep the baby; she transferred into a special tutoring program.  A boy named Zachary, newly arrived from Toronto, was making a splash at school with his motorcycle, his skill at karate, and his leadership of a fledgling Celtic band like the one he had left behind.  He was dating Amber, who sold weed from her parents' hothouse, but his dope of choice was cocaine.

Katie liked to wear clingy midriff-baring tops and tight pants, but she still looked like an ingénue and she hung out in clean, well-lighted places, as far as I knew.  Her skin had a dewy glow and her hair had the healthy shine of sleek fur.  She could wear the uniform of a street whore and give it an air of innocence.  Her exposed skin sometimes made me worried for the sake of her health, but she could always calm me down with a jacket or a cardigan.  I didn't really want to change her image.

Katie organized a baby shower for Sarah.  After the birth, Katie and the rest of the inner circle made regular visits to Sarah and her baby son at her parents' house.  Katie wrote in her diary: "If I have a baby, no one can make me give it up.  If he's a boy, I'll name him after his father." I hoped that this fantasy was a preview of the distant future.

Zachary broke up with Amber, who was apparently not meeting his needs.  He showed up more often in Katie's diary entries: "Zach talked to me today," and "Zach at Steakmaster!" She seemed to be in the grip of a full-fledged crush.

Then Zachary entered our lives in the flesh.  Katie told me on Thursday that Zach would be coming to pick her up Friday evening. "To go for coffee with the other kids?" I prompted.

"Uh, yeah," she answered.  I knew she was hiding something, and fear flashed through me.

"Be careful, Katie," I warned her. "He's moving at a faster speed than you.  You don't need a boyfriend who snorts cocaine."

"He can't get it here," she explained matter-of-factly.  Then Katie stared at me, and her high voice split the air. "You read my diary!" she shrieked. "Mom, you had no right! That is my own private writing and it's none of your business!"

"Katie," I pleaded. "I'm concerned about you.  You spend so much time with your friends when you should be planning your future.  I want you to finish high school."

"I can't believe this!" she screamed.  Her face was contorted in rage. "What will you do next, watch me dress and undress? Just because you have no life, it doesn't give you the right to take over mine! I'm gonna go live with Dad."

I felt faint and transparent, like a ghost.  I couldn't find the strength or the chutzpah to insist that everything I had done was for her own good.  Katie stormed off to her room, and I didn't try to stop her.

Zachary appeared at our door on schedule.  He was much better-looking than I had imagined.  He was stunningly, alarmingly attractive, with slick dark hair, chiseled features and a sculpted body which could have launched a modeling career or a thousand ships.  The tang of some fresh-smelling men's cologne wafted from him as he smiled into my eyes. "How are you, Mrs.  Robinson?" he asked, using the married name I had tried to leave behind me years before.  The name "Robinson" was one of the few things that Katie had inherited from her father.  In patriarchal style, her suitor seemed to think that a mother and daughter should have matching names.

"I'm fine," I answered, wondering if I could find a polite way to make it clear to him that his game was clear enough to me.  There was nothing childish or half-baked about him.  I could easily imagine him as a magical character created in adult form by a teenage player in a role-playing game.

Katie came toward him with a smile emphasized by red lipstick, her eyes sparkling behind heavy mascara.  I reminded her to be home by her curfew, and Zachary promised to bring her safely back to me by then.  I watched them both walk out the door, suspecting that a good mother would have handled the situation much differently.

When Katie came home, she responded to my questions with one-word answers.  She still seemed stiff with rage and hurt. "I need to go to bed, Mom, if you don't mind," she told me coldly.  I wished her a good night.

For the next two weeks, Katie spoke to me as little as possible, and I stayed out of her room.  I found myself drinking more coffee than usual, feeling as though I needed to fill a gap.

Katie didn't threaten to move in with her father any more, either because she had come to realize that she would be jumping out of the frying pan into the fire, or because he had told her that there was no room for her in his current life.  I was no longer a confidante of either of them, so no one told me what, if anything, they had discussed.  I was out of the loop.

Katie didn't mention Zachary either, but I could almost smell him on her.  I wondered who, if anyone, knew who had fathered Sarah's baby, and if Katie had more than one reason to imagine being pregnant.  I wondered what Zachary had left behind in the big city, besides his old band and his dope connections.  Like a private detective who was born for the work, I wanted answers.

I had to go to an office party on a Saturday night, and Katie told me she was going for coffee with her usual crowd.  She had been legally old enough to be home alone for a few years now.  I knew that any expression of worry on my part would be met by contempt on hers.  We briefly exchanged information about where we would be and when we planned to be home.

It was about midnight, the Witching Hour, when I let myself into our apartment.  Music with a strong beat thumped from the stereo, and the only light in the place came from flickering candles.  Making as little noise as possible, I tiptoed to the front room.

Two bodies lay on the sofa, and both were moving in rhythm.  The dim light gave depth to the glossy hair on Zachary's head and lit up a startling flash of white skin beneath him.  As my eyes adjusted, I saw that one of Katie's breasts was exposed, while one of Zachary's hands covered the other one.  I could imagine him teasing a pink nipple which had never received such attention before.  Her eyes were closed and she was moaning something that sounded like a half-hearted protest.

I knew I should have done something immediately, but I felt hypnotized.  I wanted to know where his other hand was.  I could feel the invasion of a bold, confident, seductive male finger in my own cunt.  She's lost, I thought.  We're lost.

A shift in the suitor's position showed me what I wanted to know: he was sliding a hand into her unzipped pants. "No, Zach," she murmured. "Not here.  My mom's coming home."

"It's okay," his deeper voice intoned.  He chuckled in a way that sent chills down my spine. "We've got time.  Nothing's gonna happen to you.  It's just finger-fucking."

That did it.  I turned on the wall lamps, then stepped forward to turn on all the table lamps.  I wished I had the flashlight of a cop to shine on any and all illicit activity that was happening on my turf.  I turned off the music.

"Mom!" screamed Katie, giving Zachary a strong push.  He scrambled off her with a satisfying awkwardness.

"Mrs.  Robinson," he greeted me, obviously trying to think of something charming to say.  Katie covered herself, avoiding my eyes.

"I see how you've been keeping each other company, Katie and Zachary," I remarked. "It's time for you to go home," I told the young man.

"Mrs.  Robinson," he repeated, "we didn't do anything—I didn't really-."

"You don't need to explain what you were doing, Zachary," I answered. "I can see and I can hear." He had to walk past me to grab his jacket so that he could escape.  On his way, he looked briefly and triumphantly into my eyes with an unmistakable message, or offer.  I felt as if I had stared directly at the sun.

"Good night, Katie," he tossed out smoothly, reaching for the doorknob. "I'll call you."

Katie and I both listened to his departing footsteps, and then to the echoing silence which followed. "Mom," she ventured, "he's really nice.  You don't know him.  You can't just decide he's all bad."

My daughter was begging me for understanding and acceptance, and her current humility was so appealing that I was tempted to hug her. "Katie, honey," I sighed. "I'm not blaming you, or even him.  But you're becoming a woman, and you have to learn to use your head.  We'll talk more tomorrow, when we're both calmer."

Katie, the junior love goddess in my life, looked relieved that she was allowed to retreat into her room—to do what? Finish the job that her idol had started? As she would have told me if I had asked, it was none of my business.

I went to my own room and closed the door.  I still felt the blood pumping in my veins, as though I were a mother wolf prepared to defend her cub or to take on a stud to relieve her itch.  I peeled off all my clothes and ran my hands over my own warm body.  Not bad, I thought.  My daughter's beauty didn't come from nowhere.

In the sober light of day, I would have to say all the motherly things that had been said to me, and which really didn't sink in until experience had taught me a few lessons.  I had to play my role, and Katie had to play hers.

In the meanwhile, however, I needed to find my vibrator, close my eyes and imagine the bursting cock of a dangerous and irresponsible young man sinking into my eager and curious pussy.  It was a very old plot, but one that some part of me was never likely to outgrow.

© 2003 Jean Roberta.  All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written permission from the author.

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