Frankie was sitting on her bed, finishing a lab report, when someone knocked on her door.
“Come in!” she answered, not bothering to look up from her periodic table at who it was.
“Hey hon, can I talk to you for a second?” her mom asked, hovering in the doorway.
Frankie’s mind raced with possibilities as to what her mom wanted to talk about. Had she left her weed out? Failed an exam? Gotten in trouble at school? Was her mom going back to rehab?
“Yeah, what’s up?” Frankie asked, trying to play it cool.
“Can I… ask you something?” MJ asked somewhat hesitantly. Frankie nodded, and MJ walked into her room, closing the door behind her before sitting on the edge of Frankie’s bed. She seemed nervous, Frankie noticed as she studied her mother’s face. Ever since MJ had overdosed almost a year prior, Frankie had been trying to pay more attention to her mother, to make sure she wasn’t using again. But MJ didn’t look high, she just looked… awkward, like she didn’t want to be having this conversation right now.
“Mom, are you okay? You kind of look-” Frankie started.
“Are you queer?” MJ blurted out, before putting a hand over her mouth, a horrified gaze settling on her face.
Frankie’s heart stopped. She has technically come out to her parents in a fit of rage after they caught her with Phoenix, but her mom overdosed a day later and the whole “I’m bisexual” thing had kind of flown under the radar ever since.
“Sweetheart, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean for that to come out… like… that. I just thought that you might be, and I wanted to give you the space to talk about it, if you wanted, and to…” MJ was rambling now, trying to make up for her previous blunder. Her face was bright red, and Frankie knew she must be embarrassed.
“Mom, it’s fine, I know what you meant,'' she interrupted. “And… I’m bisexual. So I like boys and I like girls.”
“Oh. Okay then.” MJ responded, still slightly red in the face.
“Is that… okay?” Frankie questioned.
MJ pulled Frankie into a hug then, squeezing her so tight that Frankie thought she might suffocate.
“Oh sweetheart, of course it’s fine! I just wanted to make sure you knew that it was fine. And that I’m so sorry that I didn’t… react well the first time you told me. But honestly, then I couldn’t remember if that was an actual conversation we had or if it was just the drugs, so then I asked your father, and of course he didn’t remember, and-” MJ said all in one breath, loosening her grip on Frankie. “I just want you to be happy, Frankie. And safe. That’s all I want for you, do you understand?”
“I know mom,” said Frankie while leaning back into MJ’s hug.
“You know, when you were little, and you were scared, this is exactly how I used to hold you,” MJ said, resting her chin on top of Frankie’s head. “You know, before you became all ‘Miss Independent, I’m scared of nothing’”.
“I remember,” Frankie replied softly.
They sat like that for a few minutes, Frankie feeling relieved that MJ finally knew, while MJ just
held onto Frankie, knowing that she didn’t have long before Frankie was off to college and into the real world.
“Frankie, I have one more question. And you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to but…” MJ trailed off.
“What?” Frankie answered, laughing.
“Were you and Jo, like… a couple? Because I’m sitting here thinking about how I kind of thought you two were a thing but I didn’t think that you were into girls, so”.
“We weren’t really dating, I guess. More like…” Frankie paused, not knowing how to describe their relationship to her mom.
“Friends with benefits?” MJ asked. Frankie looked at her in shock, partially thinking her mom was joking, but MJ looked serious, so Frankie just said “yeah, I guess something like that”, to which MJ just laughed.
“I’m so proud of you, Frankie. I really am.”
“For hooking up with Jo? Thanks, I guess?” Frankie responded, confused.
“Not that. I’m just… proud of the person you’ve become. You’re unabashedly yourself, all the time. You stand up for what you believe in and you do it loudly. I wish I had that kind of courage now, let alone when I was 17,” MJ said, still holding her daughter close while leaning back into her pillows.
“Thanks, mom,” Frankie replied softly while closing her eyes, suddenly feeling sleepy in her mother’s embrace. MJ closed her eyes too, just holding onto the fact that Frankie was 17 and still letting her hug her.
An hour later, when Steve called up that dinner was ready, he didn’t get a response from either of his girls, so he went upstairs to make sure they heard him. Quietly opening Frankie’s bedroom door, he found his wife and his daughter asleep in each others arms, finally at peace with each other and themselves.