Go Somewhere

By Francesca Leader

Honest to God, I thought this other piano mom was hitting on me. 

“Do you want to go somewhere?” she said, cocking her head in a way that made her curls droop like browned lilacs, her dark eyes catch the light in a way that struck me—despite the context—as flirtatious.

It was the 2010s, not the 1970s, and we were at a children’s piano recital—about the farthest thing from a Swinger’s Party. We’d just sat for two hours in metal folding chairs in the multipurpose room of a Unitarian church, grimacing in pride and agony at the sight and sound of our offspring adorably abusing a grand piano. The children, in post-concert relief, had broken into games of tag and Zombie on the carpet. Our husbands stood nearby, talking of finance or soccer. It was, however, almost 9:30 on a Friday night, which struck me as inherently suggestive.

I got a flash of us dry-humping on the dance floor. The piano mom’s mischievous pink smile made me think, for a moment, that the two spouses and five small children between us might not prevent this. Maybe her husband was some singular blend of family man and libertine who’d be happy to watch the kids—mine included—while his wife and I partied. Or maybe they could afford a live-in nanny. I knew many families here were better off than ours. Not that fancy clothes or cars meant much—anybody could get that stuff on credit. You usually could tell real wealth, though, by which moms worked (like me), and which didn’t (like the one I was talking to). We were hardly destitute, but my husband, who’d never had things like birthday parties or book fair money, didn’t think our children should, either. He said holidays were commercial scams. Piano lessons were an intangible investment, but the joy of Christmas morning (apparently) wasn’t. My children, comparing my Goodwill-sourced gifts to those of their classmates, had figured out long ago that Santa Claus—unless he hated them—couldn’t exist.

“But where would we go this late?” I asked the piano mom.

“Cheesecake Factory?”

I wanted to cry into her soft-looking hair. To confess that I’d thought—no, hoped—she was making the kind of all-expenses-paid indecent proposal that my bargain-obsessed husband would never refuse. I glanced at him, laughing with her husband, miming a corner kick. Fifteen years ago, I’d believed that he loved me; ten years ago, that he’d make a good father. I knew now that he was more likely to rent out his wife to a rich bisexual—and/or her well-connected spouse—than to foot a dinner bill. 

“Would you excuse me a moment?” I said, and drifted off through the clumps of conversing parents toward the bathroom. I closed the stall and sat on the toilet until I heard the front doors start creaking open and shut, engines rumbling in the parking lot, children’s voices ebbing out into the night, wishing I could go somewhere—anywhere. Anywhere at all.

*   *   *

Francesca Leader is a self-taught, Pushcart-nominated writer originally from Western Montana. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Wigleaf, HAD, Fictive Dream, Barren, Leon Literary, JMWW, Mom Egg Review, Literary Mama, Bending Genres, Drunk Monkeys, Door Is a Jar, and elsewhere. Learn more about her work at inabucketthemoon.wordpress.com.)

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