Family Pictures with Mom

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My mother was wearing a bikini by the backyard pool. She laid on a lounge chair with the sun shining down on her body. It was unusual, because mom rarely goes sunbathing, much less uses the pool. Now, for the last month, she’s by the pool every weekend. Proud to show her body and large breasts.

She’s a scientist, by the way, that works in a laboratory and is involved with different projects relating to the human body and mind. We’re both tech geeks, so once in a while she tries to explain her work to me.

While I was eating breakfast in the dining room, I noticed mom putting on her robe before coming back inside the house. There was a calm, yet tense look on her face. She reached in her pocket and handed me cash when she got inside.

“Here’s a $100,” she said, handing me the money. “Treat yourself, invite a friend to the mall, buy lunch, and maybe a new video game if you want.”

I couldn’t remember the last time my mother randomly gave me cash. Especially since I graduated from college last year and got a part-time job, earning my own money. She seemed adamant that I take it.

“You’re giving me free money? You must be in a really good mood.”

She nodded. “I’m in a fantastic mood and I want the house to myself. Put it that way.”

Her smile was friendly, but oddly deceptive. Lately, whenever she was home alone, things were often rearranged in the living room. A part of me wondered if she had a new exercise routine, that maybe she does yoga or aerobics and has to move furniture around, but she’s never mentioned it.

There was more clarity to the situation when I saw her in the kitchen before heading to work the next day. She was wearing a typical blouse and office pants as she drank coffee.

“Have you ever heard of a Neurolink?” she asked, taking a sip of the beverage.

“Does it have something to do with brain function?”

“Correct. We’re working on a device that can help control brain functions, designed to help people with phobias and inner-struggles. Sounds cool, right? Technically this research is supposed to be a company secret, but I felt you should know.”

There was a smile on her face, and for good reason. She was always proud of her accomplishments and they meant everything to her. For this, I had the feeling that there was something more.

“That’s awesome,” I replied. “Do you have any phobias of your own? I mean, have you tested it out or something?”

It was my subtle way of seeing if this was the reason she’d been acting strange. She caught on to my question, as she always does. By the look on her face, she wanted to be coy, yet truthful about her experience.

“You might notice some changes in my behavior. Nothing drastic, but enough to make small improvements. I’m a perfectionist, after all. And you’re right, we’ve been doing extensive testing in the lab and I’ve run tests on myself. Don’t worry, it’s totally safe and it could possibly make us rich.”

She continued, “But money isn’t the biggest thing — it’s about helping people be the best version of themselves. If that means pushing boundaries here and there, I’m fine with that.”

“Now you’ve made me curious,” I replied. “It sounds like something out of a movie. Can I see it?”

Mom blushed and sipped her coffee. “Sooner than you think.”

Our relationship changed forever on what should have been an ordinary day. She was about to leave for work and gave me a tender embrace before heading towards the door.

“Have a good day! Love you!” she said with a hug and a kiss, followed by a rub to my shoulder.

“Love you, too,” I replied.

There was anxiety on her face, but a twinkle in her eyes. It was the most conflicted expression I’d ever seen. I didn’t know what to think of it, but then again, everything was strange since the Neurolink project.

Before leaving, her eyes glanced over to the living room table, then she left in a hurry. Was it a subconscious reflex? Was she hoping I’d look there? Or wouldn’t look? There was a lamp on that table and family photos in frames.

Could there be a sentimental reason? One of the pictures was of mom and me. The other picture was of mom with her parents. That must have been it, I thought, mom was probably going through some things and thought of her parents.

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