Three Mothers Meet
It’s always better to personally buy your own clothes in person, relatively speaking. After all, the measurements taken may end up inaccurate. Unfortunately, taking Mommy Elizabeth and Mommy Vyvyan out with me would’ve attracted excessive attention. As a matter of fact, we might end up on the internet, and I could kiss my peaceful life goodbye. It wasn’t the right time and place to be internet celebrities. We weren’t even from the same world – not to mention Mommy Vyvyan was an elf. Hence, I had to go shopping with Sister Ning.
After we left, Sister Ning calmed down. I still felt awkward due to the debacle prior to leaving; nevertheless, she acted as though nothing ever happened. She remained as gentle and generous as before. In short, she was no different to my elder sister. I gradually stopped worrying and treated her as I did in the past. The two of us were adamant on not mentioning what just happened. Although it was awkward between us due to guests Sister Ning deemed as uninvited living with us, we were outside and away from them. We were in a place we were familiar with. It was our world and our daily life all over again. Therefore, we went out with smiles on our face as we usually did, enjoying the life that belonged to us bathed in sunlight.
I was completely uneducated on the topic of shopping for women’s clothing. Sister Ning could try on clothes for Lucia. As for the others, we had no choice but to hand the measurements to the clerk. The clerk was startled when she saw the measurements. In fact, she thought I was japing her for my own pleasure. What could I do about it? Fortunately, Sister Ning showed her the photos of Mommy Vyvyan and Mommy Elizabeth that she took… Don’t ask me when she took them; just know that she did have photos. I was fairly convinced she’d try and use the photos to report them to the police since she believed they were scammers or troublemakers upon first contact. Nier and Elizabeth did attack her when they first met, after all.
I lacked a concept of aesthetics; therefore, I entrusted all the decisions to Sister Ning, though she also felt challenged. It was the first time I felt shopping for clothes was so troublesome… I required a lot of help from the clerk, Sister Ning and even my imagination to finally select a few sets of clothing. Needless to say, I chose very conservative clothing to satisfy my own jealousy. I didn’t want others to ogle Mommy Vyvyan and Mommy Elizabeth, let alone touch. No, you may not even look at them!
When we picked up the clothes and prepared to go home, Sister Ning suddenly received a phone call. Her face turned pale when she looked at the screen. Baffled, I looked over. I, too, went pale in the face and nearly dropped the clothes. It was the equivalent of receiving a warning of an incoming bomb… Seeing the contact name was no different to seeing a menace…
The name of the caller was “Auntie”… No, not as in the “cleaner” usage in Chinese, but… my mom… Yes, my biological Mom, or otherwise, Zhu Liangzhe’s biological mom… I always considered my mom to be a nightmare. I never felt she held any affection for me as a mother; my mother was even stricter than my father. I, in fact, never saw her smile until my university graduation. Even then, she gave me a stern stare. Ever since I was a kid, she was always forbidding this, forbidding that, do this, do that.
“Sister Ning… did you… call my mom?!”
I did think I heard Sister Ning speak to Mom. Nevertheless… I was glad… Normally, nobody would believe their son brought four women home; four foreigners who behaved as intimately as husband and wife. I didn’t think my mom would believe it… I was worried, but she wouldn’t really come… I presumed.
“Calm down!!! Calm down! Let me take the call first. Let me take the call first.”
Sister Ning shook so intensely that it took her multiple attempts to tap the answer button. My mom wasn’t strict with me exclusively. Sister Ning, who grew up alongside me, was also subjected to mom’s terror that left her quavering. Thus, we both feared her. We still quaked in our boots as primary school kids did when we were in her presence… The entire matter had nothing to do with Sister Ning. It was my problem, but I was sure Mom would drag Sister Ning, who cohabitated with me, into it and punish her, as well. Psychological damage suffered during childhood can never be completely healed, I tell you.
Sister Ning forced out a stiff smile. It was just a phone call, where she couldn’t see mom’s expression, yet she was so nervous that she adjusted her expression. I couldn’t hear what Mom said. I didn’t dare to listen in, yet I was burning to know what she said… The conflicting emotions put me in a dilemma. It wasn’t even a minute, yet I felt as though I was subjected to a year of horror… And… it was my biological mom on the other end of the call, as I thought.
My mom’s calls were always short. It was her habit as a soldier. Moreover, she never asked for my opinion. She never asked where we should go or what we should do. When she called me, it was to notify me and not ask for my opinion. Once she was done, she’d hang up; she wouldn’t waste a moment or words…
Sister Ning was scared to begin with. Consequently, when she hung up, she looked at me with an even more terrified look. She grabbed my shoulder with one hand. While sobbing, she exclaimed, “What do we do?!! What do we do?! Aunt has arrived! She’s at home right now… What do do…? What do we do…?! Can… can we still go home?! We… we can’t go home…”
I panicked as I racked my brains: “And where could we go if not home…? But… but… could… could… my mom have already… met Mommy Vyvyan and Mommy Elizabeth?! I… My… my legs are feeling weak… How do I explain it? Mom, let me introduce you, these are my two adopted moms? I… I’m panicking… I… can’t explain it…”
“We… don’t have anywhere to go… if not home… right…?”
Current time at home.
Vyvyan sat on the sofa with a cup of tea in hand. She gave the woman opposite her a smile. Elizabeth vigilantly stood by the window and leaned on it. She kept her head down and avoided eye contact.
The woman, who was dressed in casual clothing, yet appeared imposing, looked straight back at Vyvyan. The three didn’t speak. Nevertheless, all the air in the living room was frozen. There was no way to breathe. Even Lucia and Nier stayed in one of the rooms and trembled. They didn’t dare to move…
*Cleaner auntie – Usually, in Chinese, we add “uncle” or “auntie” to occupations when referring to specific individuals. As another example, we’d say “candy uncle” – van is optional.