"Trust me, I know, When you look at me You see nobody at all. For the first time I can say I'm proud to be Nobody at all." -Nobody, Stick to Your Guns (also a hint at what Lance's band, Carry the Creation, sounds like ;) )
Of all days he didn't want to deal with her, this was definitely one of them.
It was hard enough getting downstairs when his legs felt like they wanted to fall off from the pain in his muscles.
Add that to being hit with the stench of coffee and expensive perfume and he could already tell it was going to be a really wonderful morning.
She sat with her back to him, hair dyed a deeper shade of red than the last time he'd seen it and tied back into a bun. Professional, always professional.
He didn't want to deal with any of it today.
He moved, walking past the stair banister and into the entrance room. Her voice drifted to him as he bent down to pick up his backpack.
"You should have something to eat before you leave."
"Not hungry," he responded.
Lisa remained quiet; the only sound she made was turning another page of the newspaper. Business section. It was always the business section. He heard the sound of a mug being set onto the table.
"I made you a cup," his mother said. "You seemed tired when you came home last night."
"I didn't know you were up," Lance said, speaking the truth.
"I always wait up for you."
That made him feel a little guilty. He looked down, thinking for a moment as he swung his backpack over his shoulder, holding it by the small loop on top.
With the other hand, he wiped at his eyes, trying to rid himself of the fatigue beforeslipping his hand into the pocket of his jeans. Lance cleared his throat.
"Thanks," he said.
He saw Lisa nod, another page of the newspaper turning. His stare went to the coffee she had set down beside her, watching the steam curl as it floated away from the top of the cup.
He did need something to wake him up; he couldn't run on empty. Not with last night's memories threatening to resurface.
Lance moved to take the cup off the table, gripping its hot handle.
"Sit down." The words were kind; she was trying to be friendly. "You have a while before you have to leave, don't you?"
Lance looked up to the clock on the wall, watching its sophisticated, thin hands continue to tick. She was right; he had more than a few minutes to spare.
But he was more than a little hesitant, especially standing next to her like this. Was this the "pretend like nothing happened" part of their cycle?
He took the long way around to the other side of the table, alternating his stare between the hot coffee and seeing his mother's face for the first time in a few days. She looked tired.
He probably didn't look any better.
Lance took the seat across from her, not bothering to scoot up to be closer to the table. For a moment, he watched her, trying to figure out why she kept this cycle going.
She glanced up, meeting his eyes briefly before he looked away, taking a sip of coffee. He held the liquid on his tongue, fighting the urge to spit it out from both the heat and taste.
Did she put anything in this besides water and beans?
He swallowed it down, morphing the sound of disgust into a series of coughs.
"Hope you're not sick," Lisa commented.
"No." This coffee's rancid.
Lisa only glanced up at him again, tired eyes turning back to the newspaper as she flipped to another page. He almost made small talk, almost actually wanted to ask how the stocks were.
But he shook the urge back, taking another swallow of coffee. How did she drink this stuff?
"How's school going?"
Her lips curved in the slightest of smiles. "Another year-and-a-half and you'll be graduating. I can't believe it."
The weight of her statement settled into Lance for a moment. He looked down at his coffee. "Yeah..."
"You've been doing okay? It's been a while since I've even seen you..."
Wonder whose fault that is. The words were on his tongue; he almost said them. But then his mother had to speak again.
"With the hours you've been coming home lately, you might as well be dating someone. You're not seeing any girls, are you?"
A face flashed into his mind. Lance stood, placing the mug on the table. He grabbed his backpack from the floor.
"I gotta go."
"Alright." Lisa's voice was soft.
He started around the kitchen island, taking the long way again as she continued speaking.
"I... Guess I'll see you later then."
Don't even try to keep guilt-tripping me! He almost said this, the words behind clenched teeth. But the memories from a week ago, a morning similar to this one played in his head.
How she had yelled at him for "throwing his life away" on some "wishful thinking." That musicians were really just at the bottom of the career food chain, and most of them were starving artists.
She'd broken the dish she was cleaning, just to accentuate her point.
The original spiel was loud and clear, Mom, he thought. It has been for years.
Thinking back had got his blood pumping again. He relaxed the hand that had clenched itself into a fist, reminding himself what that fight had taught him. He wasn't going to be like her.
He was so tired of getting angry.
"Yeah, Mom?" he asked, turning around to see the back of her head again.
She set her own mug on the table, near the newspaper.
"Take a jacket, will you? It'll be cold outside."
He looked to his left, seeing the coat rack stare back at him. The same jacket he'dworn yesterday was hung, and he hadn't even remembered taking it off.
He barely remembered wearing it before their gig started.
He almost reached forward. If he took it... Was he accepting some kind of unspoken peace treaty? Was the slate clean, or was it just starting yet another cycle for them?
His hand reached out, hooking underneath the thick fabric of the hood. He pulled the hoodie towards him, resolving that even if he was starting a new cycle, maybe this time would be the last.
"Yeah," he said, finally responding to her.
440 days. He could do this.