The car ride’s been pretty boring, mostly. It’s pretty late, and we’ve been driving all day. Aside from asking to stop and use the restroom a few times, we haven’t talked a lot either. I wonder for a second if I did anything wrong, but honestly, Amber just seems focused. She put me in charge of music, after all.
Her gorgeous brown eyes fixed on the road, sometimes glancing at signs, or smiling at me singing like an idiot right next to her. Everything’s probably fine. She usually tries to say if something is bothering her. Usually.
I should try, like… some sort of Amber Mood Detection move by doing something cute. With the song’s chorus coming up, I quickly figure out the perfect technique, tapping the dashboard with my hands to the drum-y parts.
“B-E-H-A-V-E Arrest us!” I bap her on the thigh to each letter to try and get her to cheer along. “Italiana mobster, lookin’ so precious” I try to sing the rest of the chorus while doing vague cheerleader poses I still remember from tryouts. She’s not really moving. Or reacting. “B-E-H-A-V-E Never more-”
“Mare, could you try not to distract me this much when I’m driving?” She interrupts. I give her an apologetic look, and she sighs in response. “Well, Miss Hale, I appreciate your energy, but I don’t think you’re gonna make the squad if you only practice in RVs.” Hehe, cute.
“Miss Hale, huh?” I mock her.
“Would you prefer Missus Hale?” She mocks me back and I turn red.
“N-nah, that’s weird, that’s what people call my mom.” I try to laugh it off. “Who you’re about to meet for the first time, so don’t get any weird ideas about like… that kinda stuff.”
“Then would you prefer Missus Golley so I don’t get you two mixed up?” She gives me a smug look, and I just turn my head to stare out the window. It kinda hits me this is the first time we’ve talked about like anything similar to like… things. It’s only been a month or two since we started dating, is it okay to talk about that stuff at this point? “Sorry, that might have been a bit much for teasing.”
“It’s fine.” I turn my neck back around. “Sorry for distracting you earlier. I just wanted to see if you were okay, and my brain was like ‘be annoying’ and I listened to it for some reason.”
“Yeah, I’m okay.” She sighs. Her shirt lifts up and down with deep breaths, like she’s trying to calm down or something. “Just nervous.”
“It’ll be fine, like I said.” I give her a reassuring smile, she smiles back real quick while she tries to focus on the road again.
My mind wanders for a bit, thinking about what going home will be like, if they’d be okay with how she looks. Maybe my family would like her more at first if she wore a dress. But like… I can’t imagine her in that. Maybe like a wedding dress… holding flowers and looking at me under an arch and… Okay, never mind, focus. Don’t be gay, especially not in front of mom and dad. Well, you need to, but. Okay. I’m starting to recognize buildings, so we should be close.
“Hey, hon? Why are you nervous?” I ask. “They’re just my mom and dad and like… seven siblings.” That last part might be a bit much actually.
“I dunno. You said they seemed kinda shocked when you called and said you’re bringing a girl home, right?” She asks, messing with her hair with a free hand.
“Yeah, but like… I hadn’t called them in awhile, also I never really told them I like girls.” Amber looks over with a bit more worry. Actually not really more worry, just like. The worry is more. It grew up into actual worry from a baby worry. “But they’re fine with that part, I’m sure. They’ve always been okay with stuff like that, and it’s not like I’m the only one that could give them grandkids.”
Amber sighs of relief at this. “Okay, cool. Now I just need to get over the fear that you’re dad’s gonna point a shotgun at me.”
I pause for a bit. “I don’t think he owns a gun, you really don’t need to be nervous. They’re good parents.” Giving another reassuring smile, I start trying to help her with directions.
“So, it’s just around here, yeah?” Amber nudges her head to the right.
“Yeah, it’ll be the biggest house, it’s like the fourth on the right.” I smile, excited to start to see home again. The yard, the weird tree house that fell down a couple years ago, Mariah’s RV-
“Amber, do you see that?” I ask, just to make sure I’m not going crazy from being in here all day.
“...” She doesn’t respond.
She parks on the side of the road, undoes her seat belt and steps out of the RV. I follow her movements as fast as I can and sprint after her as soon as I get my shoes on.
“What’s the rush? I thought you guys were like friends now.” I say sprinting to catch up with her as the door of the other RV. She starts knocking as soon as she sees I’ve caught up.
“Hey, Mariah! Open up.” Amber bangs as hard as she can, but there’s no answer.
“Maybe it’s a different RV?”
“Nah, it’s the same license plate.” She sighs and lays her head against the door. “What are they doing here?”
“I dunno, maybe they’re inside my mom and dad’s house.”
“Why would they be in there?”
“Why would their RV be here?”
Amber rolls her eyes. “Fair point. Wanna go knock and say hi? I’m probably hallucinating from all this stress.”
“Sure!” I grin and grab her hand and rush to the door. I knock six times so they know it’s me. As soon as I hear the door open, I start to say “Hey, I’m ho-” I stop talking as soon as I open my eyes.
“...What are you guys doing here?” Mariah’s replies, standing in the doorway like she owns it. Boobs practically out, as always. Not exactly what I expected.
“...This is my house.”
A voice calls out from the back. “Sorry, sorry.” A guy with blonde hair with a bandanna wrapped around comes out, pulling Mariah away as she makes a scream I’d probably laugh at if I wasn’t so confused. “Good to see you guys again. We came to apologize for the car in person.”
“You drove all the way here just to do that?” Amber asks. Joe tries to think of an answer while Mariah stumbles back to try and be the gatekeeper of my parent’s front door.
“Yeah, so what? You guys following us or something?” Mariah screams back.
“You KNOW, the car you’re apologizing for is Marina’s right?” Amber pats me on the shoulder for emphasis, and I jump a bit. I trust her touching me, but the yelling has me a bit tense.
“…But this old bitch in here says it was her daughter’s.” Mariah seems to be genuinally confused for a second.
“Mare...” I look over to Joey, saying my name in a condescending tone. But he’s probably referring to his friend and not me.
“Yeah...” Mariah puts it together. “Shit. Okay, yeah. That’s why Joe let you steal our crap.”
“Glad you remember.” Amber glares at her, she sounds sarcastic.
“...You here to like do your girlfriend in her parents house or something?”
“No, I’m here to introduce myself. Sadly, because of you, their first impression of me is going to be a weird angry bitch.”
Suddenly, I hear my mom’s voice. She comes up to try and claim the doorway of unnecessary yelling. “What are you guys yelling about?”
“Mom!” I squee out, running to hug her. Her hair’s gotten longer in the past three months, and a little grayer, but she’s still wearing her same blue dress and weird perfume she has when there’s company. “I missed you so much!”
“I missed you too, baby girl.” Her voice is just as soft as I remember it. So are her hugs. She looks over to our treasure rivals and asks. “What’s all the fighting about, I thought y’all were leaving?”
“We were, we just know met some friends at the door.” Joey replies, scratching the back of his head with one arm and trying to drag Mariah out with the other.
“Hey, just cause I was nice to her ONCE doesn’t mean we’re buddies.” Mariah barks back.
“Oh yeah, I guess y’all would know her. Still, it was a pleasure.” Mom smiles at them.
“You too, ma’am.” Joey smiles back.
“Eh, sure.” Mariah grunts and breaks free from Joey’s grip. She points at my girlfriend, who hasn’t moved at all. “Oh, yeah, she’s Amber. She’s fucking your daughter, mostly thanks to me. See ya later.” Mariah turns with Joey following behind her. He gives an ‘I’m so sorry’ look to the three of us.
Amber starts blushing a lot and speaks frantically. “Okay, great, nailed the introduction. Thanks, guys. Don’t forget your little sister so you can raise her into a psycho, too.”
“Oh, right.” Mariah replies, almost halfway to their RV. She turns up to look at the second floor and yells “Tess, we’re leaving!”
Suddenly, a tiny girl falls out of the sky, and rolls to avoid getting hurt. She has a teddy bear in her right hand that also seems okay.
“Hey, Tess. New friend?” Joey asks.
“Mhmm, his name is Tux. Cassie gave him to me.” Hearing her say my little sister’s name feels like worlds colliding. I wonder if they got along.
“Killer, but I’m not sharing my beer with him.” Mariah says, hoping back on their vehicle.
“I know, sis, it’s okay. I’ll give him his own. He can get a fake ID just like you.” Tess’ words get drowned out as her and Joey follow Mariah and close the door.
“So...” Mom starts staring at Amber. “You probably have a better introduction for yourself, right?”
“Uh...” Amber stutters for a bit. “N-not a more memorable one, unfortunately. Uh...”
Mom stares at her for a bit before letting herself laugh at how flustered my girlfriend is. “Good enough, I’ll go tell everyone y’all are here. Come on in.”
Amber makes her way inside, as mom goes upstairs. I should probably say something. “So… that’s not as bad as it could have gone, right?”
“Yeah.” She lets out the biggest sigh I’ve ever heard. “I really hope no one else heard that.”
“Nah, people are usually too noisy on their own.” I giggle, trying to cheer her up. “Not even Mariah could break that wall of noise.”
We hear footsteps running down the stairs. “Okay, round two.” Amber mutters to herself.
“They’re gonna love you, I know it.” I reassure her.
“What makes you say that?” She asks.
“Cause I do.”