She stands overlooking the skyline as her mahogany hair drips down to her shoulders. Her cardigan swallows the immensity of her body as the rain pelts upon the tinted glass, and as she looks down at the speckles of people below, she wonders if they know.
If they are aware of her perch.
Lightning streaks across the sky as the windows of her penthouse rattle, and it is not until the door comes crashing inward that she is drawn from her trance.
Noah, her son.
The one who flared her hips and thickened her thighs. The one who sent ricocheting scars down her stomach, who forced her to bear the scar of her surgery as her body twisted and expanded its girth to allow his growth.
Noah, the boy who’s voice, no matter how old, will always flash her back to the days they spent running through fields and fighting over sugars before dinner.
Noah, the high school graduate back from his beach trip with friends.
“Mom!” he yells out again.
She smiles, his footsteps falling heavily as he pads around their home. This window has always been her favorite spot. It is not simply the view, or the height, or even its shape that allows her to cradle her entire body into its sill that pulls her in.
It’s the reflection she sees staring back at her. A woman, with broad shoulders and a thick waist. A prominent bosom with a rolling stomach. Clothes that hid divoted scars and hair that covered a natural slump in her posture. It was the eyes, set on the face of a woman whose life had been determined not just by the choices of her own doing but by the choices of those who chose to have her in their life and failed.
And here she was, looking down upon the city from above, as if a guardian from the heavens instructed her to keep watch from her tower.
She pulls the cardigan tighter around her body before she slowly pans her head over towards the door…
… and she smiles when her brave, noble son turns the corner.
“I should’ve known,” Noah smirks.
“Come here, boy,” she murmurs.
She holds out her arms for him and embraces his mass. 6 foot 4 never felt so delicate as when Noah was in her arms, and she knew he would never be a true man.
Not in her eyes.
“How was the beach?” she breaths.
“Wonderful. I’ll have to tell you about it tonight,” Noah murmurs.
They both stand there, embracing one another. She’s never trusted hugs. Always has preferred to shake a hand. The best of business deals were applied in that manner not because of the emotional reserve, but because of the honesty.
When you shake a man’s hand, you can take a look at the sincerity behind his eyes.
With a hug the face is masked, and your ability to be swindled is only as likely as your ability to judge.
And she questions her ability to judge.
“Mom,” Noah muffles before grasping her shoulders.
“Yes, sweet cheeks?” she asks.
“Are you happy?” he asks.
She watches as her son studies her face. She cranes her neck back, for 5 foot 6 never looked so short, and smiles a smile she learned to concoct decades ago underneath the mounting pressure of simply growing up. Of understanding bills and dancing around taxes. Of finding her place and faltering in her destiny. Of loving, and leaving, and learning the truths of the debilitating understanding for the horrors the world has to provide and the lack of comfort some homes have to give.
She reaches up and cups the cheek of her son, his skin young beneath her aged fingertips.
“Are you?” she asks back.
“Never answer a question with a question, Mom,” Noah smiles.
“I wonder who taught you that,” she smiles before she taps his cheek.
“Only the smartest woman I know,” Noah quips.
“Then send her this way!” she calls while she brushes past her son. “I could use her advice!”
Noah watches after his mother as he shakes his head. She has always been steadfast. Quiet. Emotionally reserved. Intrinsic. Faithful to her core and never one to be trampled.
At least, he did not believe so.
“Whatcha wanna do for dinner, Mom!?” Noah calls out.
“Craving anything!?” she yells back.
“Where did you go!?” Noah asks.
When he emerges from the hallway, he sees his mother hunching over a book. A genuine smile, for the first time in years, crosses her face while he stands and watches her. He knows the book she has splayed upon her lap, and he watches while her eyes glisten at their corners, soon to be blinked away from even the most private of eyes before she breathes and gains her composure.
He commits himself to taking it all in, utilizing it as a reminder that his mother is not what the world perceives her to be.
“You never answered my question, Mom,” Noah says lightly.
“Whatever you want for dinner is fine, sweet cheeks,” she says mindlessly.
“No. I meant the other one,” Noah states.
He pushes off the wall and slowly makes his way towards the couch. The plush microfiber swallows him whole as he sits down beside her, and they both stare at the wall-length windows while they watch the sun paint its brushstrokes beyond the heavens, only to be reflected within the eyes of those who stop to behold.
“I never get up early enough to watch the sunrise,” his mother murmurs.
“Are you happy?” Noah asks again.
And each time he asks that question, it catapults her back to a different time. A time of youthful ignorance, sexual freeform, and religious ideologies that peppered the countryside of the world she grew up in. A time of secrecy and best friendship, of exploration and mystery.
Of love, and loss… and rocky depths.
“I’ll be off to college soon…” Noah trails off.
And she slips her hand over to his knee, squeezing it lightly before she turns her gaze upon her son.
Her deep brown eyes with speckles of yellow that mimicked the brightness of a full spring day, her apple-perked cheeks that beckoned of the rosy shade of youth, and her lips that were coated in the glistening salt of the liquid that poured down her amber-laced skin.
“And you will be wonderful,” she whispers to her son.
“But, will you be happy, Mom?” he asks with a certain… desperation.
And yet again, the past grasps her by the collar and pulls her back into a different time.
A time of options and opportunity. Of education and adventure. Of dark corners and low-lit restrooms in bass-thumping clubs with alcohol to spare.
She supposes it is time to tell her son her story.
After all, she is the wealthiest woman in New York City.
“No,” she answers her son plainly.
The hope fades from behind his eyes before she turns her body towards him on the couch.
“Would you like to know why that is not a bad thing?” she smiles lightly.
“How could not being happy be a good thing, Mom?” Noah begs.
“Because it is all about how you define the word, son,” she breathes.
“It is all about how you define the word.”
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