Abby walks down the hallway with an empty laundry basket. The way it tucks into her hip reminds her of when Jade was young, not yet one, and insistent on always being by her side. People commented behind Abby's back that she, Abby, had made Jade clingy. Being a single teen mum can cause it.
But it was a simple case of Jade needing stability in her life. And Abby wants to give her daughter exactly what she had lacked growing up. A caring mother who'd do anything for her children.
Fifteen years later, two other kids, a husband who loves Jade just as much, and Abby thinks she has succeeded. She also knows that it can't be easy for Jade. The other kids talk. They'd have to. One of Jade's closest friends, Emma, has a sister who Abby went to school with.
Abby understood Jade would grow up, want to be independent, to separate herself from her mother, who was only fourteen years older.
Abby taps on her daughter's closed door. The sound of a sentence being cut off, then that tone that is the foundation of all their interactions.
Abby forces a smile, points to the laundry basket and slips into the door. Abby catches herself mid scan, her eyes quickly darting, looking for anything suspicious, the signs of a bong or a pipe, or alfoil, or baggies, or even the hint of aroma that Jade was not following the agreement.
Abby notices the subtle eye-roll, the universal sign an adult was present. She must be face timing a friend.
She grabs the laundry, almost apologetic, but not, and withdrawals herself from the room.
The next fifteen minutes is her favourite time of the week. She thinks of it as the “I Love Jade” show, like one of those old comedies from the fifties with the cheesy commercials. The laundry detergent always presented this show. She thinks of it as smellevision, an immersive show that chronicles the past week of her daughter's life.
She can smell the cigarette smoke on the school dresses and knows that the kids still go out behind the bike shed to smoke. It is a recent addition to the show, and she can imagine that it is Jade leading the charge, the one buying the packets from the corner Milk Bar, just as she had. There was a familiar sensation in the smell, of charging into life with each drag, pulling the future in and watching the power of your own breath on the exhale. You don't get that sense of your own life-force without smoking, without visibly seeing it there, right in front of you. Of watching the others do the same thing.
Now, the mother of three, wife to one husband, when does she ever get to feel alive? It is right now, as she watches the weekly installment of her daughter's life. This is her life-force in full technicolour smellevision.