"Sign here and here, and then fill out the information on the other form." The red-headed receptionist instructed, pointing to the lines in question with her pen before handing Riley the clipboard. The brunette nodded in understanding, walking over to sit in a padded chair in the front lobby while she filled out the information.
Tucking her purse on the ground below her, she silently began filling out the forms required. The even ticks of the clock on the wall and the dull glide of the pen were the only noises, save for the occasional cough or sniff from an occupant. A stiff silence heavy in the air, the brunette couldn't help but glance around at the others also sitting in the lobby with her. Most of them had similar clipboards in their hands, but some sat reading books or magazines. Maybe someone was visiting while they waited to take them home? Riley could only speculate.
The form asked for basic information. Her name, address, phone number, and various questions to determine if she was a convicted felon. Despite never having committed a crime before, it was always somewhat nerve-racking to be answering these types of questions. Suddenly it became a lie detector test in her head, and she hesitated before checking the 'no' box next to the listed crimes. What if she had committed murder and somehow didn't know it? It was unrealistic and childish, but one couldn't help but wonder.
Thankfully no one else seemed to be aware of her own self-induced anxiety, and she was able to get through the form without problem. A few people had walked up to turn their in already, and she did the same, handing the clipboard to the receptionist kindly.
"Thank you, please have a seat until your appointment time."
Doing as told, Riley sat back in her same seat, holding her purse to her chest. She'd already underwent a search at the entrance to the building, and she suspected she'd be subject to another one before actually getting to the visitation room. It wasn't as rushed or uncomfortable as the airport security, who's job was to get you through as quick as possible. Rather, the prison security guards took their time and were very thorough.
Even after spending a long time getting ready that morning Riley had arrived to the prison early, knowing she'd probably have to fill out paperwork beforehand. Leg bouncing up and down nervously as she waited, the brunette chewed at her bottom lip. This was it. She was probably only a few hundred feet from her mother. The woman that had caused so much disrupt in her life as of late.
If she were being honest, Riley was actually terrified. Of what her mother could do. Or what she would be. Or what she wouldn't be. It was hard to be sure what exactly scared her most about being here, but all she knew was that there was a deep-seated anxiety sitting in the pit of her stomach that wouldn't go away.
Why did this woman have so much power over her? With a start, Riley realized that this was exactly what she'd decided against feeling when she had left home originally. She'd decided not to feel oppressed by this woman and her emotional manipulation anymore, and had set off on her own. Yet here she was yet again nearly shaking with the thought of seeing her again. Maybe it was an ingrained reaction by just being in her general vicinity. Perhaps lasting effects from the abuse.
But Riley had already made this decision long ago. A younger, more vindictive, and emotionally hurt Riley. No more, she'd said. No more letting her control her life. She'd take things into her own hands, and do whatever she wanted to. When had that changed? She'd been doing just fine on her own without her up to this point. What happened to that strength? A little of the anxiety left her, as the brunette remembered that she'd gotten this far without her mother in her life. Now wasn't any different.
The power was all in her hands. She alone could decide, and it was only by her decision that her mother would walk free or not. With a steeling deep breath, Riley straightened in her seat, curling her hands into fists. She'd listen to what she had to say, but her mother would not be making this decision for her. No way.
As if to seal the deal, she reached for her phone and texted Wrench. Where her own strength and resolve failed, she knew she could count on him to support her.
I'm just waiting in the lobby now to see her. They won't let me bring my phone or anything in, so I won't be able to talk for awhile.
We're with you. Not just me, but the others too.
I know. I appreciate all you guys.
A little but not as much now. I had a revelation of sorts.
Ooh, how poetic. What of?
I think it wouldn't be as poetic if I explained it to you, now would it? :)
Well, that's hardly fair. Impart your wisdom unto thee, fair maiden ~.^
Ok, so, not so fair a maiden…
The first thing I'm doing is punching you when I get back home.
The door to the lobby opened, and a security guard walked in, holding up a clipboard. He glanced around the room, before clearing his throat. "Alright, all of those with a 12 o'clock appointment please follow me."
Several people began standing from their seats, and Riley tapped out as quick of a message as she could.
The doors just opened, so I have to put my phone away. Text you when I'm done.
Not bothering to wait for a reply, she stuffed the device into her purse and rose to proceed with the other visitors. The security guard ushered them past the door, eyeing them carefully for any funny business.
"Do keep in mind you'll be subject to a cavity search before entering the visitation area. There will be lockers for you to store your things safely." He continued, shutting the door after the last stragglers entered inside. The security guard positioned himself up front and began walking down the brightly-lit hallway towards a door at the end. Their shoes thudded and slapped against the tile floor, echoing against the brick walls as they went.
They reached the doorway, and the security guard swiped a badge against a panel on the wall. It beeped, before the door unlocked with a loud click. He opened it, gesturing for the rest of the visitors to follow. They did as instructed, finding themselves in a checkpoint area. Two guards stood just past two metal detectors, holding the smaller, metal detector wands that the airport TSA agents also used. Behind the big conveyor belt on one side stood another, waiting to check their belongings.
The guard who'd guided them here stopped and turned to regard them, gesturing to a pile of plastic bins set up on a table. "Please remove any jewelry, belts, shoes, and all items in your pockets. They'll be screened by the machine, and we'll let you know which items won't be allowed past the doors."
After yet another pat-down and cavity search, Riley and the other visitors were following after the originally guiding security guard once again, lead down another long, white hallway. He walked backwards, facing them, and began to speak.
"A few ground rules: first and foremost, you are allowed a maximum of one hour with the inmate. There will be an alarm that rings once the hour is up, and you will be expected to stand and step away from the partition glass at that time." His voice was loud and held no room for question. The visitors nodded in understanding.
"Contact of any kind is prohibited. There are no gaps in the glass for this very reason." He continued, switching his gaze from one person to the other to make sure they were listening. Seemed he wouldn't be repeating himself. "An inmate retains the right to refuse any and all visitors. If this occurs, you will be escorted back to the visitation lobby and your possessions will be returned."
Riley had the sudden fear that perhaps her mother wouldn't want to see her at all. That maybe she'd come all this way for nothing. She hadn't even thought of that possibility. The guard continued on despite her inner worries.
"You will remain seated at your designated table until either you or the inmate end the visitation. Wandering around is not permitted. You may end the session at any point, simply by hanging up the phone. A guard will escort you back to the lobby." They stopped just outside of a door with a glass front, the letters 'INMATE VISITATION' painted across it. Riley took a deep breath, steeling her nerves.
"Should you require assistance, raise your hand and a security guard will come to you. Any questions?" He finally paused, looking around at the visitors expectantly. There was no response, so he swiped his badge across the panel beside the door and opened it. "Please remain where you are until you are told which station to proceed to."
He asked the name of the person closest to the door, looking on his list and gesturing into the room. They walked forward and around the corner, disappearing from Riley's sight. The process continued, each visitor instructed where to go. Riley tried peering through the open door, but couldn't see anything except another brick wall. There were bright lights around the corner, however.
Much sooner than she anticipated, Riley was next in line. The security guard regarded her neutrally. "Name?"
"Uh…" She blanked for half a second. "Riley Clarke."
His eyes searched the page, before pointing down the hallway. "Go to station 34, on the left side."
She nodded mutely, rounding the corner. There was a row of stools on either side of the room, with a metal shelf separated by panels to give privacy to the visitors and the inmates speaking. Those who'd gone inside first were already seated, some holding the phones up waiting, some calmly sitting there with folded hands.
The brunette made her way down the aisle, reading the numbers painted on the floor at each station. 30. 32. 34. She stopped, staring into the window where her mother would be. They had yet to bring her here, it seemed, so she took a seat and waited. Her leg bounced against the ground to let off the pent-up tension. Riley was not known to be patient, and this was no exception. Now that she was here, she just wanted this to be over with.
Several more people filed past her, but thankfully there wasn't anyone sitting in either seat to her sides. She had a bit more privacy this way.
A loud buzzer somewhere nearby nearly made her jump, and a door at the far end of the room behind the glass opened. Inmates filed inside the room, their feet chained to prevent running, but otherwise they were just in their orange prison uniform. All of them went for the stations that they were assigned. Riley stared as they entered one by one, waiting to see that familiar face.
Nearly the last one to enter, Jocelyn Clarke walked into the room and slowly made her way to the window. Riley's eyes worked overtime, taking in every detail. Black hair down and slightly unkempt, she noticed it had lost some of its curl. Only the tips twisted in several directions. Brown eyes that had once gazed at her warmly now barely held any recognition. Maybe mild curiosity, but nothing past that. Her figure was skinny, almost frail. Prison wasn't being kind to her.
The woman sat, getting herself settled in the chair, before leaning her elbows on the metal shelf between them and staring into her face intensely. She made no move to pick up the phone, choosing instead to study Riley with as much interest as the brunette did in return.
Both women sat inspecting, assuming, and sizing each other up. Riley had tried to come in here without much in terms of expectation, but it seemed by appearance alone, her mother was already disappointing the few she couldn't help but retain. The woman didn't even crack a smile, didn't show any sort of sign that she was happy to see her only daughter after all these years.
She was skinny, gaunt, and pale. Maybe all from being in prison. Maybe from the drugs. Riley would never know. It felt more like she was staring at her mother's corpse, nothing but skin and bones, instead of her living, breathing body. A sobering thought crossed her mind. How had she survived so long on her own? Obviously the woman wasn't taking care of herself.
Shaking away the invisible strings holding her in place, Riley reached over to the phone and picked up the receiver, holding it to her ear. Jocelyn didn't immediately do the same, watching her another moment before picking up her own line. Seeing the wrinkled and bony hands clutch the phone, Riley heard the click of the feedback on her end and the inmate held up the receiver to her own ear.
Riley let out a pent-up sigh, gripping the phone tighter. She tried her best not to let the nervousness show through. Now was just the time to talk.
Marcus must have known that Wrench was restless. The man could read a person so damn easily, it was fucking scary. The anarchist had been sent on somewhat tedious and time-consuming 'missions' all day long, and he was frankly starting to suspect something.
Wrench had kept quiet about his suspicion up to the point, partly because he appreciated what Marcus was trying to do, and partly because he actually was extremely restless. It wasn't particularly because Riley was gone. That he could deal with. It was the fact that she was, at that moment, meeting her mom, and he was anxious as to the outcome.
He hadn't lied. He did believe Riley when she said she knew what she was doing. His only worry was her tendency to take someone else's side in an argument because she felt bad or sympathized. Wrench didn't want her own wishes to be trampled by her mother's ability to manipulate her feelings.
Not to mention, he didn't want that fucking woman anywhere near Riley after everything he'd heard. Wrench in particular had a deep hatred for abusers of any kind. This woman was no exception. But it wasn't his call, as much as he hated it. If he started making those decisions for her, he'd be just as bad as her mother. Manipulating her to think or do what he wanted her to.
So with those lovely and positive thoughts infesting his mind, Wrench could use a bit of distraction. Marcus, thankfully, always had his back. But these mostly-pointless errands were beginning to wear on him now. After the last 'grocery list' of USBs, computer cables, spray paint for Sitara, and a convenient store stops to grab junk food for the hackerspace, Wrench returned and dropped the plastic bags in front of his friend with relief.
"Sweet…" Marcus said, pulling a bag of his favorite chip flavor out of the plastic bag. "Thanks, Wrench."
"Always at your service." The masked hacker said in a accented flourish, just to be dramatic. He met the offered fist bump, then dug through the things he'd bought for the six pack of beer for himself.
"Hey, how's the bike coming along?" He asked suddenly.
Wrench shrugged, feeling a little bad about the truth. "With all of the Tidis information to go through and…everything else," he added vaguely. Thankfully Marcus knew what he was talking about, "I haven't had much time to work on it. It's almost done, just a few more parts to attach and the paint job, but it might be a bit longer. Sorry, Marcus."
The hacker gave him a reassuring head shake. "Nah, don't worry about it. Take your time. I'd rather see it done right than done quick."
Wrench nodded, glad that Marcus wasn't disappointed. They both walked over to the couch and lounged beside each other, watching whatever movie was playing currently. It wasn't one either of them recognized. Maybe one of Sitara's.
They mindlessly watched for awhile, too lazy to switch to anything else. Wrench uncapped the beer bottle and lifted his mask to drink it, while Marcus munched away at his chips. With a sad start, Wrench realized he hadn't had the time to really just chill with his best friend like this in a long time. Maybe, without meaning to or realizing it, he'd pushed the others away. Shit.
"Things have changed a bit, haven't they?" Wrench asked out in the open, and Marcus gave him a curious glance.
"A bit…something on your mind?"
The hacker sighed, shrugging. "Just realized you and I haven't hung out like we used to in…a while."
His friend grinned, nodding in silent agreement. He didn't seem mad about it though. "Maybe, but we're still good. We'll make time to go get drunk off our asses or do something stupid just for the hell of it."
The anarchist nodded enthusiastically, liking the sound of that. Here he'd been worried for nothing. Maybe Riley's habit of always wondering about other people started rubbing off on him. Now he felt ridiculous for even having sweat over it.
"And it's not like you're the only one that's been sidetracked." Marcus added with a shrug, spreading his hands apart.
Wrench gave him a side glance, his mask changing to reflect that, and he cocked his head. Luckily they were the only two in the hackerspace at the moment, so he could ask this out loud without the possibility of someone overhearing
"So, you and Sitara, huh?" He asked suggestively. Not saying anything to confirm or deny it, Marcus raised his brows with a smug little grin. Wrench laughed under his breath, punching him lightly in the shoulder. "I fucking knew it."
"Don't you say a damn thing, Wrench. Sitara will hand your ass to you if anyone finds out because of you." Marcus warned with an amused smile.
The anarchist held up his hands, one still holding his beer, in defense. "I prefer having my ass attached to me, thank you. Not a peep. Promise."
Feeling a bit better about the whole thing, Wrench settled comfortably back into the couch and directed his attention back to the screen.
It quickly became apparent that this was a chick flick, and as soon as the cliche and stereotypical kiss scene came around to make things extremely awkward, the hackers cursed and scrambled to change it to something a bit more…action packed.
Jocelyn cracked a tiny, amused grin and shook her head slowly. "There's no way you're Riley." She said in certainty, her voice much gruffer and meaner than the brunette ever remembered it being. A humorless, almost mocking huff of a laugh escaped her lips. It sounded more like a couch than anything. "My Riley was a good-for-nothing whiny brat with no backbone. Could barely look me in the eyes. You aren't like her at all."
The brunette sat partially stunned, some of her hope deflating immediately. Already, and things weren't looking good. Her lips pressed together in a thin line. "Nice to see you too…" She muttered sardonically.
There were several moments of silence between them. "On second thought, you've got that same smart mouth." Her mother added, narrowing her eyes with recollection. "All bark and no bite, if I remember. Maybe you are Riley."
The brunette felt dismissed, and she hadn't come all the way here just to be denied by this woman. Maybe she wanted her to break down and cry, or beg to be recognized. Hmm. "I am your daughter." She assured, never breaking eye contact. "I'm just not quite what you remember me to be."
"Clearly." Jocelyn swept another glance across her face, taking in the changes.
Riley was surprised to find that her nerves had gone away, now that she was sitting across from her mother. All of the scary scenarios in her head were replaced instead by reality, which was that there was nothing this woman could do to her from behind that glass wall. It instead brought her a strength she couldn't quite understand.
"I came here to have a conversation." She explained evenly, as neutrally as possible. Jocelyn only watched her with those calculating eyes. "I want to hear what you have to say."
"What makes you think I've got anything to say to you?" The woman asked bitterly, slightly cocking her head.
Riley shrugged. "You didn't refuse my visit. And maybe you don't want to talk. But it seems like you at least want to hear what I'd have to say." Then, more as an afterthought, she said aloud. "Nothing's free. You gotta give a little to get something in return."
Jocelyn shifted in place, leaning back in her seat, phone still to her ear. Riley was normally a very impatient person, but she felt no need to rush a response. That would only push her away, possibly make her hang up the phone entirely. But eventually the brunette was rewarded with a slow, almost predatory smile.
"Hmm. At least you didn't turn out stupid." With a heavy sigh, her mother gestured towards her. "What is it you want to know?"
"Everything." Riley said in earnest. "About you. About what happened. It's been years since I've seen you. I just want to fill in the gaps."
Her mother huffed out a breath through her nose, staring down at the metal shelf she rested her arms on. "It's not all that exciting. Been here since my husband hung himself, never got around to going anywhere else. I've worked at the same goddamn job for years, but it pays enough. Don't know about now though…" She muttered to herself, no doubt wondering what would happen with that when—if—she got out of prison.
It seemed she was going to be brutally blunt about her life, because there was no sugarcoating anything. Not even her father's death. "The only thing I buy nowadays are drugs anyway. Don't need much to do that. Cocaine, meth, and some heroin when I can get it."
None of this surprised her. She'd read enough on her file to figure the sort of things she got up to in her free time, but the disappointing thing about hearing it directly from the woman herself was realizing she didn't sound guilty or regretful about any of it. As if she'd go right back to it as soon as she was released.
Her eyes dragged back up to her, a smug glint in her eyes as another predatory smile spread on her face. "And if you're still hoping 'mommy' is some kinda saint, well…I couldn't count how many men I've brought home and fucked until I was senseless."
Riley assumed that was supposed to garner some kind of reaction from her. It seemed her mother's entire reason for talking was to show just how awful of a person she really was. As if that was supposed to bring shame upon Riley's own person. The only outward sign of acknowledgement she received though was a raised eyebrow.
"Anything else?" She prompted, feeling like that didn't explain much at all.
Jocelyn shrugged, leaning back again in her chair with crossed arms. "Not until you starting spilling some secrets too. There's a few things I want to know about you, you're right. Like where the hell you went after leaving me to take care of your ungrateful ass."
Riley resisted the urge to roll her eyes. This was going to be like pulling teeth to get any more info from this woman. Things had descended into a negotiation instead of a conversation. She should have expected as much, though.
"I'd had enough." The brunette said honestly. If her mother was going to be honest, so was she. "I'd already talked to a women's shelter and was able to stay there for as long as I'd need. Got a job as a waitress to save up some money and enrolled at Bergen Community Collage in New Jersey."
"Bergen?" Jocelyn questioned with a confused glare. "Never heard of it."
"It's small. Just over the state lines." Riley said patiently. "I got a degree in journalism, then moved to California for a job offer. I've been there ever since." Some details she didn't specify, because it was better off if her mother didn't know exactly where she lived. Just in case.
The brunette tried thinking of something else to add, but finally shrugged. "Not much else to it than that, other than I've got friends, I'm happy with my job, and I have a cat named Pants who I love dearly."
Jocelyn didn't look impressed. In fact, the predatory smile had faded after hearing about the college. In its place was a neutral frown and those piercing eyes staring at her. After some time, she shook her head.
Riley was tired of people questioning her profession. "Yes, really. I enjoy what I do." She decided not to mention that she'd recently quit. That was besides the point and it would only give her ammunition to fire back spite with.
Her mother expressed her doubt, eyes glancing around at the inmates beside her. "Sure you do."
Riley ignored that bit, adding as an afterthought. "And considering I was piss poor living by myself, it wasn't like I could afford any Ivy League schools."
Jocelyn chuckled under her breath, sounding much more breathy than it probably should be. "Well, looks like some things never change. You'll never stop disappointing me by the sound of it, kiddo."
Another attempt to rile her up. Not today, Riley thought as she evened out her bubbling irritation. Things weren't looking good for her mother. Things were getting off track anyway.
"Your turn. What happened to you after I left?" The brunette asked without tact.
Jocelyn narrowed her eyes and sniffed, adjusting the grip on her phone. Maybe the fact that the little tricks she used to use to break her emotional stability as a teenager no longer worked poked her in the wrong places. Wasn't that a shame.
"Tried figuring myself out. Got drunk a few times. Stayed drunk. Then I added drugs just to see what would happen." Her mother explained, trying to play it all off like she didn't care. But Riley could see the cracks through her armor. The slivers of vulnerability and instability hidden behind those cruel eyes and disapproving frown.
"Tried going to Kathy when the money started running out." The woman continued, scratching her arm absentmindedly. "But she only told me to go to rehab. Wouldn't even let me step foot in her house until I was cleaned up."
Riley frowned at the unfamiliar name, and her mother must have noticed. "My sister."
Understanding dawned on her face, and the brunette nodded thoughtfully.
Jocelyn scoffed with a head shake. "Not that that meant anything to her. Turns out family doesn't mean a damn thing to anyone anymore." Her eyes turned accusingly towards her, and Riley could just imagine the betrayal she must have felt after a younger Riley left her by herself.
Was it her fault that this had all happened? Would things not have turned out as bad if Riley had stayed? The doubts were immediately dashed aside. Strangely enough, it was accompanied by a mental image of Wrench, his arms crossed and mask displaying two angry slashes, facing off against her mother in her head.
Seeking comfort from the fact that Wrench wouldn't have allowed her to believe that this was all her fault, Riley sat straighter in her chair. Her mother might try to push the blame on her, but she wouldn't be taking responsibility for it.
Distaste suddenly crossed her mother's features, and she leaned forward accusingly. "Is that why you're here? To rub in my face how great your life turned out to be while I rot away in this shit hole? Is that what this is?"
"No." She immediately denied, because in fact that wasn't it at all. "I wanted to see you for myself. I wanted to know where you were and how you got here. I wanted to know the information I've been missing all this time. I just wanted answers."
"How convenient you show up when you've got all these security guards and glass walls between us. You've had years to come back, and only now you want to see me?" Jocelyn pinned her with a knowing stare. "What…still scared of mommy?"
"I figured it would be the only environment in which you'd actually talk to me, rather than try to hurt me." Riley admitted freely with a hard stare of her own, because that was also partially true. If her mother was still a free woman, there wasn't a chance in hell Riley would feel comfortable approaching her like this. The security of the prison afforded her a rare opportunity. One she wouldn't pass up.
And if it only served to put her own cowardice on display, so be it.
"Yeah, well, if you hadn't have abandoned me, maybe I wouldn't be here." Her mother spit with a glare. "Great job stepping over your own mother to have your perfect little life. Go ahead, enjoy it. Because mine's a mess at your expense."
Riley said nothing, not allowing the words to do any sort of damage to her.
Jocelyn continued anyway, leaning forward until her face was right next to the glass. "You think I don't know what I am?" Was her whispered question, terrifyingly calm. "You think I can't see what looks back in the mirror? I know I'm a bitch. I know what a fuck-up I am."
She swallowed, shaking her head. "I can't change even if I wanted to."
"Why?" Riley ventured to ask, genuinely curious. This is what she'd wondered. Could her mother change? If given the opportunity to become a better person, would or could she? Was there a chance she could have a mother again? But as the first traces of tears in her mother's eyes began to make them glassy in appearance, her heart broke a little bit further.
"You don't know what losing the love of your life feels like…" She frowned, trying to hold back the crying as the emotions from that night threatened to surface. "You could never understand what that does to you, not until you actually experience it for yourself."
The suggestion gave her an awful mental image of Wrench in that hospital bed instead of herself. She shook the fear aside, not wanting to go down that train of thought.
The hand not holding the phone patted her mother's chest. "There's this…emptiness. And it won't go away, no matter how…" She choked up, taking a breath to steel herself. "No matter how many men I take home, or how much alcohol I drink, or drugs I take. It won't fix it. Nothing does."
For the first time, Riley broke her mother's gaze without meaning to, drifting to the shelf between them in sorrow. The brunette knew that her father's death had indeed broken her mother. There was no other explanation for the change in personality afterwards. Her mother had loved her father more than anything in the world. She'd seen it every day as a kid, the way they looked at each other and cared so much for her.
She couldn't help but imagine what Riley would do if something similar had happened. How would she cope? Sure, she had Pants, but would he be enough to stop her from drinking herself into oblivion, or seeking to forget through drugs? Was her mother's actions afterwards somewhat justified? Everyone grieved in different ways, and maybe her mother just didn't know any other way to try coping with the loss.
There it was again. Riley's infernal habit of sympathizing with a sob story. Damnit. But there was so much truth behind her mother's words, Riley didn't know how to approach it without stepping over what she could perceive as justifiable logic.
It's not a bad thing to be selfish every once in awhile. Do something for yourself for once.
Wrench's words came clear through her brain, and it made her pause. He was right. If she took everyone else's side all the time, there'd be no one defending her feelings and emotions. They'd never be validated. Riley was allowed to feel like she was in the right. Just this once.
Steeling herself against the waves of guilt for being the person her mother blamed, Riley looked back up at her and didn't look away.
"I understand you were in grief. I'm not saying you weren't. But the way you treated me after dad died was…awful. A nightmare." She described, shaking her head with recollections of some of the worst treatment. "There's no justification for child abuse."
The change was immediate. Her mother's earlier expression of pain and grief washed away in a split moment, replaced instead by stunned disbelief. "Abuse?" She snipped, eyes narrowing. "You think you were abused?"
The brunette had done a valiant job of remaining patient and calm through this whole conversation, but now, at that comment, she'd had enough. For the first time since the conversation began, Riley snapped back angrily. "Of course it was. What else could it have been. After dad died, you didn't have any other way to vent besides the drinking, so you hit me. Repeatedly."
Jocelyn tried to speak up but Riley cut her off. She realized that there were still other people around, and quieted her voice down. However, it never lost the outrage and anger behind it. "I kept to myself the countless times a teacher at school asked about the bruises on my arms, or why I didn't want to go outside with the rest of the kids for recess. I stopped hanging out with friends, because if one of their moms saw the marks, they'd ask. And I didn't want to be 'that kid.'" Riley quoted with her free hand.
"I was told over and over how much of a failure and a disappointment I was. How I'd never amount to anything because of what happened to my dad, and that I had his blood in my veins." She ticked off the other instances on her fingers. As Riley continued, Jocelyn continued growing angrier and angrier. "You locked me in my room on the days you didn't want to take care of me. You read through my diaries to be sure I wasn't saying anything bad about you. If that doesn't sound like abuse to you, then what does?"
"You weren't abused! You were a spoiled little brat, who got whatever she asked mommy and daddy for." Jocelyn spit, jabbing her finger into the glass with venom. "You should be grateful I even kept you around afterwards. I suffered the loss of a husband-" She started, but Riley leaned in closer to the glass, having heard enough of the excuses and selfish remarks.
"And I suffered the loss of a father." Was her reply, tears of her own beginning to pool. Damnit, she hadn't wanted to cry. "And maybe that's not as terrible as losing your partner, but it's still a loss. You're not the only one still carrying that with you."
Both women went silent, and strangely enough, Jocelyn's expression softened. Riley felt her tears slide down her cheeks.
The brunette shook her head, trying to wipe away at the tears that fell. "You were the one person I could turn to after he died to help me grieve, and all you did was try everything you could to snub me out. So in reality, I didn't just lose dad. I lost you too…because you used to be a great mom. You were the coolest person in the world to me. I loved you more than anything."
Riley watched as tears now spilled freely down Jocelyn's cheeks, and the woman let a strangled sob break through, before sucking in a breath and stifling the rest of her cry. Riley watched with mild detachment, unsure of how to feel about seeing this unexpected weakness from the woman who not one minute ago was continuing the abuse from years ago.
The cracks of the indifference and strength compounded, until the armor that surrounded her mother broke away entirely, leaving the broken woman who Riley didn't recognize anymore. Had she really never realized that Riley was suffering just as much as her from the loss of the man they both loved? Had she been that blind? Had she wanted so badly to be the victim that she completely disregarded Riley's own grief?
Jocelyn cried silently to herself for a few minutes, and Riley waited. The brunette took the time to allow her own tears to dry, feeling the sadness slowly fade. In a heartlessly monotone voice, she shook her head. "Just because you were suffering didn't mean I wasn't."
The woman let out more sobs, unable to speak through her emotional state. Riley watched her for several more seconds in an attempt to allow her to compose herself. Eventually, Jocelyn seemed to realize that she couldn't spend the rest of their conversation sitting there in a crying mess. Sniffing loudly several times, she straightened and used the sleeve of her orange uniform to wipe her tears away.
At this point, Riley had no doubts that this woman could ever become anything like her mother again. Maybe on the surface, she could pretend. And a cruel, desperate part of herself wondered if that wouldn't be so bad, to have even a fake relationship with this woman. But the rest of her knew it would never work. Now that she thought about it, she'd made her decision about 20 minutes ago already. She was just prolonging the inevitable departure, perhaps wanting to get as much as she could out of this visit. It was selfish but…that wasn't necessarily a bad thing as she'd come to learn.
"You know," Riley started again once Jocelyn had calmed down enough to talk, ready to end the conversation already, "I had another reason for coming to see you."
"Oh yeah?" The woman asked, genuinely curious, but becoming a tad suspicious.
The brunette sighed and shook her head. "I considered the thought of posting your bail, but I wanted to know what sort of person you are now before I made any sort of decision."
Jocelyn's head snapped up, staring at her wide eyed. "My bail?"
"Yeah…at least, I was going to." Riley met her gaze evenly. It was about time to wrap things up. "But now I know that wouldn't be a good idea."
"Excuse me?" The question burst from Jocelyn's lips, and she leaned forward aggressively. But Riley wasn't swayed, feeling no regrets with the decision she'd made. There was nothing more to glean from speaking with her further.
"Like you said before. You could never change. And I don't particularly like the person you've become." She cleared her throat, having heard enough from this woman. "I'm glad I got the chance to talk to you like this though. It's helped me answer a lot of questions, but don't expect to ever see me again. I've come to the conclusion that I'd rather move on with my life. So, I guess this is goodbye."
"You…little fucking bitch!" Jocelyn yelled into the phone, fully standing up from her chair and seething her hatred from the other side of the glass. A security guard who'd until this point stood against the far end of the wall hurried over to restrain her.
Without waiting to hear whatever her mother would say next, the brunette hung up the phone back on the receiver and stood from her seat. Jocelyn's muffled screamed and the insistent banging against the glass was all she could hear as she waved to the security guard at the end of the aisle of visitation stations. She was calmly escorted out, while the guards on the other side of the glass pinned her mother down. Several curses and obscenities were directed at her back as the brunette left the room.
Barely 3 in the afternoon, Riley lay in her hotel bed, staring at the wall. It had been some time since she'd gotten back from the prison, but she didn't feel like moving. Too much was on her mind. Not any regrets or guilt or anything, and by the next morning the brunette was confident she'd be back to normal, but for now it just left her a little stunned that it had all actually happened.
Riley felt sound in her decision to keep her mom locked up. She wasn't even really her mother anymore. Maybe she did feel some remorse for what she'd done, but obviously held no intention of changing her behavior up to this point. It was all she knew how to do now.
At least Wrench wouldn't have to worry about it anymore. And neither would Riley, come to think of it. But she could still feel disappointed that this woman had failed all of her expectations and then some. So many hopes had been dashed all at once.
A buzzing on the table made her jump, and she glanced to see the screen of her phone lit up brightly. A text. Sighing, she eventually reached over and grabbed the device from the table. Predictably, it was from Wrench. A tiny smile graced her lips reading through it.
Everything ok? Haven't heard from you in awhile.
In all the commotion, Riley had forgotten to text Wrench after leaving the prison. Oops. Either way, she was really lucky to have a guy like him always supporting her the way he did.
Just thinking about everything.
So, what's the verdict?
She's not my mom anymore. Hasn't been for years. I don't know who that woman is now.
Obviously I was hoping that you wouldn't bail her out but…I'm sorry she wasn't what you thought she'd be, Riley. I know how important this was to you.
It's ok. I tried not to go in there with expectations, but I couldn't help but be disappointed. It's my own fault.
Stop with the 'its your fault' shit. Just let it be.
I know, I'm trying.
So you'll be on your way home tomorrow?
Riley paused, having been thinking about her next move. After sitting there, going over the conversation in her head, she kept thinking about one thing in particular. Well, more like one person. Kathy. Jocelyn had mentioned her sister Kathy, and Riley wondered if she was still alive.
Wanting to know, she'd tracked down her location from an ancestry site and a few other database searches. In fact, miraculously, Kathy Dixon was still alive. And happily married to a Jim Dixon. They still lived in Georgia, in the same house they always had.
Riley had their address and everything. They were just a plane ride away.
She realized she hadn't responded in several minutes, and she finally typed out a message.
I actually found out something that I might want to look into. My mom's sister in Georgia is still alive. When I was really little she came to visit for Christmas, but that's the only time I've ever seen her, and I don't remember all that much. I'm considering going to meet her.
Is she anything like your mom? Because you might be flying all the way out there to be disappointed again.
I don't know. That's why I want to meet her. She's the only family I have left. Quite literally.
So, you'll be gone a bit longer…
Riley could tell he was sad to hear she'd be gone for longer than she originally had anticipated, but it was nice to know she was free to make her own decisions without worrying that he'd get mad or irrational about it.
Yeah, but don't worry. I'll be back before you know it.
Well, at this rate you'll travel the whole country before getting back home. ~.^ Just don't forget which place to eventually come back to.
I promise. :) I should probably go though. I'm a bit tired after all that waiting and the emotional tension.
Ok, get some rest then. You know where to look if you want to talk again. ^.^
Smiling, Riley set her phone down and reached for her laptop, searching up tickets for flights to Georgia. Hopefully one that left tomorrow.ns22.214.171.124da2