Article by Alesandra Tejeda; art by Olathe Antonio & Jia Mei
I am seventeen years old, and my boyfriend, Joe, and I are at the grocery store. We’re going to buy sushi, go back to his house, and watch a movie.
We’ve just reached the refrigerated sushi display and I’m absorbed, chatting away about our options, when I hear Joe’s voice, rushed and caught by surprise, say:
“Ale,” as he grabs my right arm.
I look up and scan my surroundings, confused.
Then my eyes catch my mother’s.
She’s maybe ten feet in front of me. In the hummingbird second it takes for me to internalize her presence, my heart drops to my toes. She’s wearing a familiar outfit: her tennis shoes, sweats, and Louis Vuitton hand bag—arms crossed, her toes face the deli counter as her torso twists to me. Staring at me. Her eyes are dark.
I wonder what my face looked like before time unfroze. I burst out laughing, and follow Joe out of the store. I still wonder why I laughed.
That was the first time I’d seen her since the restraining order was issued and the last time I’ve seen her since—at least face to face. I’ll often find myself seeing short, stout blonde women from behind, and my heart suddenly thuds like a drum in my ears as I flee in the other direction.