Chapter 12:

I Could Tell She Liked Me From The Way She Stared

I Know It Might Be Wrong, But...

Mornings in Stacy’s home would often be uneventful.

Stacy’s mom would take the first train home from work and arrive somewhere around half past the hour of five in the morning. Upon arrival, she would start cooking breakfast so she could have something to eat. Along with it is Stacy’s breakfast as well, which will be covered up until Stacy gets out of bed. After having breakfast, she would then start cooking a meal for lunch so her daughter could have something to bring to school, and at the same time, she would have something to eat when she wakes up in the afternoon before heading out to her second job.

Afterwards, she would wake Stacy up so her daughter would not be late for school. Well, usually, by the time she has to, there will still be plenty of time before Stacy would actually be late. But, Stacy is decidedly not a morning person and has a tendency to fall back asleep if not forced awake so there is a need for her mom to really get her out of bed. It could be done a bit later, but Stacy’s mom needs the sleep.

That routine only happens on weekdays, obviously. On weekends and holidays, Stacy is allowed to sleep in.

Anyway, as soon as Stacy was up, it was then her mom’s time to sleep. Although, before she does, she tries to make a bit of small talk with Stacy to catch up. For most of the week, it is only in the mornings the two are together in the house, after all. But, that was the extent of their interactions at least until Stacy’s mom’s day off.

In the past, the two used to sit down for breakfast together, but once the doctor had advised Stacy’s mom to not sleep immediately after eating, their opportunities to talk became limited to that small window.

This morning though, the sun has barely risen and their routine is already broken by having an early morning visitor. Or, rather, this guest was already there the day before and stayed the night to wait for Stacy’s mom to arrive. Regardless, it has given mother and daughter the rare opportunity to share a table again for a meal in the morning.

They were not caught up in conversation, however, as their focus is mostly on their guest, Steven.

Stacy’s mom was busy grilling him with questions. Stacy opted to observe the conversation.

At first, it was standard fare, a basic set of questions to get to know the interviewee a bit. Stacy’s mom was asking Steven what and how he was doing at school, which he spared no time deliberating on.

When asked what he thought about school, his response was “I enjoy it. I’ve made lots of friends and there’s always something fun or interesting to do after classes.”

A follow-up question asking Steven whether he got along with his teachers followed, and he replied “I like to think I get along with them. Some of them are friendly, and some of them are pretty strict, but I think they’re all nice.”

When asked about his grades, his answer was “I was not able to break into the top five as I’m weak at social studies, but I was able to at least be the best in math and sciences last term.”

When extracurricular activities came up, he mentioned “I’m active with my club, too. I’m a regular in the basketball team, actually.”

All his answers were said proudly and confidently. There was not a lick of embellishment or exaggeration in them, after all. They were his achievements.

Stacy’s mom could not help but be wowed by what she was hearing. “Impressive”, she audibly commented as she glanced at her daughter and winked when they made eye contact. She was still under the impression that the boy she was talking to was Stacy’s boyfriend.

Stacy knew what the motions meant, but ignored it because she needed her mom to be under that assumption. Any reaction, she figured, would probably cause the misunderstanding to be cleared one way or another so she remained passive.

Meanwhile, Steven was unaware of the situation he was in. He puffed his chest proudly when Stacy’s mom said he was impressive, thinking he made a good impression. He was even imagining that maybe she was starting to like him.

However, the impression he made was different from what he was hoping for. Too far different, in fact, but he was not realizing this yet.

Satisfied with the profile she has built in her head about Steven, Stacy’s mom changed to a more serious tone as she continued with the impromptu interview.

“What is it about my daughter that you like?” she asked.

“Mom!” Stacy immediately protested, abashed. Even though she knew the question was born from a misunderstanding she had caused herself, it was still a question with an answer she would be embarrassed to hear. She then turned to Steven to say “You don’t have to answer that.”

Steven was not listening though. He was taken aback by the question, wondering what his impression of Stacy had to do with anything. But, he figured that maybe he heard the question wrong and she was asking if he had a friendly or at least a positive relationship with Stacy. He thought that, of course, as a mother, Stacy’s mom’s priority will always be her kids, so a potential lover should at least be open to having an amicable relationship with them. Since he and Stacy evidently already knew each other, she was probably testing whether he was getting along with her only daughter.

However, once he dug around his mind for the answer, he realized he barely knew Stacy. They only started talking recently, after all. Even though they already went on one date - one of which he was forced to go to, he has barely learned anything about the other person, apart from having a dislike of jokes regarding bad eyesight.

Of course, he realizes he cannot use that as the answer. A lie, he figured, would easily be caught and could damage the initial impression he built, so it was not an option.

Stacy’s mom grinned at Steven, still waiting for a response despite her daughter’s continued protests. She was not exactly thinking of it, but he had the impression it was body language telling him to hurry up and answer her. It was the opposite, in fact. She was thinking that he was cute for struggling to put his feelings into words. Neither have explicitly communicated their thoughts to each other, however.

Regardless, Steven had to come up with an answer fast. Luckily, after a sip of coffee, he thought the best answer would be a vague one for now. His interactions with Stacy may have been minimal, but it was still enough to give him a general impression of her, and that is what he would be using.

“Stacy is somewhat fun to be with”, he finally said.

“Hmm?” Stacy’s mom reacted, suspicious of his choice of words. “Somewhat?”

Steven immediately caught on to his misstep and offered a correction. “No! I mean, she’s fun to be with.”

Stacy’s mom then perked up upon hearing the reply. Hearing something positive about her daughter made her a bit excited. She asked “Oh, do please elaborate, what does she do to make herself fun to be with?”

Crap, Steven thought to himself. He was afraid he would be asked to expound on his answer as he did not know how to continue with the topic, and that is exactly what just happened. Sensing he cannot avoid not giving a reply, he decided to go for broke. He concluded to give his honest assessment of Stacy.

“Well, she can be pretty expressive, so her reactions can sometimes be funny”, he confessed. ”Especially when she faces something she doesn’t like, her response to them isn’t always the same so it’s not boring.”

Stacy was annoyed by the answer and gave him a disapproving look. She negatively thought, so he knew what I was going through and chose to ignore it for my reactions?

Her mom, however, reacted by turning to Stacy and commenting “I never realized you were into that”.

Stacy’s stink eye towards Steven quickly turned into a look of panic as she tried to correct her mom. She exclaimed “It’s not what you think!”

But, her mom was not listening, mostly because she was teasing, and continued “I wonder who you take after?”

“Geez, listen to me, will you?

The banter was interrupted by a loud tune coming from Stacy’s smartphone. It was the alarm indicating it was time for her to wake up. Normally, she would be hitting snooze on it, but since she was already up, there was no need to so she swiped the button to turn the alarm off.

Although, instead of its original purpose, it has become the signal that the meal was over.

“Well, time for you two to prepare to go to school”, Stacy’s mom declared as she started cleaning up the table. All of them have finished eating for a while now.

“Alright”, Stacy said and went into the bedroom.

Steven, however, had not changed out of his uniform and had not brought a change of clothes so he was still wearing the same garments he had on from the day before. So to speak, he was already ready for school, but it was still a concerning thing for Stacy’s mom, especially as he does not have the opportunity to freshen up.

“What do you intend to do?” Stacy’s mom asked Steven. “Do you have enough time to go home and change?”

“I’m thinking I could go to school like this”, he replied, more embarrassed about his lack of foresight and preparedness than the fact that he is going to attend school wearing the same clothes two days in a row. “I still have morning practice to attend to.”

“You can’t!” Stacy’s mom exclaimed. “You need to take care of yourself or else girls will start to dislike you despite your looks.”

Steven took it that the statement included her, so he took it to heart.

“Alright”, he said, agreeing without complaints. “I’ll go home.”

“You’re not going to be late for your morning practice?” Stacy’s mom asked, concerned.

“If I run back to my home, I might make it”, Steven replied quite reassuringly.

“That’s good to hear.”

“Well, then I guess I should be going now”, he said as he picked up his bag which he put in a corner last night.

“Stacy!” She called out to her daughter who has not come out from the bedroom yet. “Steven’s going now!”

“Okay! Tell him I’ll see him later”, Stacy shouted over the closed bedroom door.

“I swear, that girl”, Stacy’s mom said to herself. “At least see your boy out.”

Steven heard the comment and had confused him, but he again thought to have misheard what she said so he shrugged it off.

Stacy’s mom turned to Steven to see him off. “Alright, be careful on your way home”, she said.

“I will”, Steven replied. Not forgetting his manners before stepping out, he continued “Thanks for having me.”

But then, when he already had both feet out, Stacy’s mom called to him to tell him something she forgot about. He was not fully expecting one, but he had a quick wish that it was a goodbye kiss when he was turning back to face Stacy’s mom.

What was going to be told to him is not something he expected though.

In a hushed voice, Stacy’s mom told him “I almost forgot to tell you, you have my approval for dating my daughter.”

Steven’s only reaction was stare at Stacy’s mom wide-eyed.

She took it as a positive reaction. She followed it with a wink and telling him “Safe trip” before closing the door.

Despite still being shocked by the comment, Steven started walking out of the apartment compound. As he walked, it all started clicking for him.

The first clue should have been when they were doing introductions and she only introduced herself as Stacy’s mom.