The neighborhood hadn’t yet begun to stir.

All was quiet on Crooked Oak, aside from a bird or two, & even they seemed to judge me as I trudged up the walk-way & through my front door. Look at my smile though. Look at how relaxed those shoulders are. Look at how I’m almost springing from step to step through the kitchen. Oh god, my feet are disgusting. I hadn’t realized when I started telling you this story how gross I was going to sound.

“Penelope Jane, I have had it!

“Oh crap.”

“Oh crap is right — no, you know what, oh crap doesn’t even begin to cover the crap that you’re in right now young lady.”

“You could probably say crap again.”

Do I look like I’m joking?

“No, jeez, of course not, take a chill pill.”

“Pills? Really? If you had been taking yours like I’ve been begging you to for weeks now, you think maybe you’d have come home last night!?”

“Mom, look, it’s okay, it’s okay, it doesn’t matter—“

“Doesn’t matter?”

“Nope, doesn’t matter, because I’m cured. I don’t need pills anymore because it’s all just gone!”

“Jane... are you feeling okay?”

“I’m feeling better than okay! I don’t feel it anymore, the it, whatever it was, the buzzing, the pressure, the anxiety, it’s all just gone, Mom, I feel invincible!”

“Are you sure you’re okay? You’re acting different, if anything is wrong, please, tell me, I just want to help you!”

“Mom, I’m fine, I swear, I’m late to meet Meg for practice, I’ve got to, um, clean up a bit first, but I love you, Mom, & really, I’m okay, better than okay, really, okay? I love you!”

The way she looks at me in this moment, as I smile at her for the first time in months... I would echo for a lifetime if I could. 

I ran up the stairs & hopped into the shower, not knowing I’d spend the next few weeks feeling like a new person — not knowing I was enjoying the spoils of a deal I didn’t know I made.