“Chris, you here kiddo?” Elizabeth called out as she stepped into her apartment after a hard day of work. “Chris?”
No reply. She headed down the hall and checked his room, no sign of him. A second later her phone chirped with a text message.
“Hey mom, got band practice. Not sure when I’ll be home.”
She smiled to herself as she headed to her own room to get changed. Her teenage son and his friends had formed a band a couple of years back that seemed to have a new name every other week. They mostly played for their friends in their rehearsal space.
“So, I get the whole apartment to myself, huh… ‘cept for you that is.” Elizabeth said as their cat, Harley, walked into the room. Chris had named the calico after his favorite comic book character, Harley Quinn. Her ex-husband was long gone after a nasty divorce when Chris was only two. She had come home to find him fucking his girlfriend in their bed. With the help of her parents and a very good lawyer she sued for, and got full custody of Chris and earned a decent chunk of change in alimony and child support. She made enough money from her job to keep a roof over their heads, clothes on their backs and food in their stomachs, but she wasn’t going to turn the extra money down. Between her parents and her next door neighbor she always had someone who was willing to watch Chris on the rare occasions she had to work late or on weekends.
However it was her next door neighbor, Nina, who was a godsend. Just a couple of years older than Elizabeth, they first met when Elizabeth moved into the building and Chris was being a handful. Nina offered to keep the toddler occupied while Elizabeth supervised the movers. Nina was a psychiatrist who was always willing to offer Elizabeth any advice she needed, but never took her on as an actual patient, feeling she couldn’t be impartial to her best friend. Any and all advice she offered Elizabeth was “off the books”, and was just “advice from one friend to another”.
As Chris got older he tried to help his mother out as much as he could, doing odd jobs for friends and neighbors. Elizabeth tried to tell her son that he didn’t have to give her his money, but he insisted, even slipping it into her purse when he thought she wasn’t looking. Once he hit his teen years he got a part time job stocking shelves at the supermarket up the street, and Elizabeth insisted her son keep his money for himself, because as she jokingly told him “I’m done paying for you. Buy your own stuff now.”
After graduating high school last year, Chris decided to go to college in town, as it had the courses he was looking for. Elizabeth agreed that Chris could continue to live at home as long as he kept his job and stayed in school. He was often teased by his friends for still “living at home with mommy”.
“Yeah, how horrible,” he would tell his friends, “I get to live at home rent free, only paying my cell phone bill, and half the internet bill. I have no curfew, I can come and go as I please, I can watch whatever I want on TV, and if I get hungry in the middle of the night I can raid the fridge. You’re right, it sucks still living at home.”