Fiyero the poodle monster rested his chin on the side of my bed, rumbling a low, guttural growl, alerting me it was time to get up and play with him. I groaned as I rolled over and grabbed his fluffy face between my hands.
"Now that Ashley isn't here you have to resort to me, huh?" I asked.
Fiyero cocked his head like he was trying to understand me. His tongue, which was always a little too big for his mouth, flopped to the side and I barked out an early-morning laugh.
"You're lucky you're cute," I said.
As I stood up, Fiyero started bouncing around the room excitedly and then raced down the hallway and down the stairs. Much to my surprise, I heard Mom yelp "Fiyero!" from the bottom of the stairs. Usually Mom sleeps in until noon on the weekends, but today she was already up and stretching in the living room. Her hands contorted in weird angles behind her back and she listened to the soft hum of Lady Gaga, her workout music of choice.
"Want to join me and Fiyero on a run this morning?" she asked without turning around. My tiptoeing obviously failed me.
"As fun as that sounds..." I trailed off.
"The first step to a healthier life is making a commitment," she rattled off. I kept a mental tally of the thinspiration mantras she preached to me throughout the day. This one was at about two times a day.
"I inherited my commitment issues from Dad, obviously," I said.
I regretted saying it as soon as it came out. We tried not to talk about the Dad Debacle of Sophomore Year when he cheated on Mom with one of her friends. Should 'friends' be in quotation marks in that context? Yes. Her "friend" slept with my dad for about a year before he slipped up, leaving his phone charging on the kitchen counter and leaving message previews open for a naive sophomore me to find. Adult sexting is disgusting.
"Oh, Savannah," she said, shaking her head with both of her hands firmly on her hips. It was a pose reserved for her times of greatest disappointment.
"Sorry, Mom," I said. "I have to head over to Grace's. She's having the Moreno family reunion thing this afternoon. Um, did you want to come, too?"
She shook her head. "No, thanks, sweetie. I'm heading over to the gym this afternoon. You have fun, though. Be sure to tell Maria thank you."
Her statement felt a little like a judgment. Like, You have fun while I improve my mind, body, and spirit at the gym without you. Most things out of her mouth sounded like a personal attack on me lately.
"I will. See you tonight," I said, heading into the kitchen.
"Do you want to heat up one of our frozen meals before you go? You don't need all the extra carbs that come with the grill-out food, especially the buns," she said.
My whole body flushed red like it did every time she tried to restrict my food. I remembered Ashley's plea to keep the peace while she was gone, and swallowed the anger that bubbled up inside of me.
"I'll be sure to heat one up before I leave, Mom," I lied. "Have fun at the gym."
Normally on Sunday mornings, Ashley would be up and making breakfast. She'd make secret pancakes and bacon before Mom could wake up and tell us how many calories we were wasting on breakfast. We'd lounge on the couch and watch episodes of whatever show we were bingeing and practically become one with the couch before Mom woke
up at noon. Maybe Mom woke up early so that I wouldn't feel so alone. Even though it made me feel a little better, the giant hole in our home dynamic expanded two sizes.
I listened to the soft rhythm of Mom's feet hitting the floor as she did her warm-up routine. I'd become accustomed to this sound over the past year. After Mom and Dad's divorce, Mom tailspinned into a shame spiral. She started making changes to every aspect of her life—anything to get her out of the "rut" she'd been in all those years with Dad. One night, she saw a call for audition tapes for the weight-loss reality TV show 'Shake the Weight' and conned Ashley into helping her film a tape. Thinking nothing would come of it and being willing to do anything to make Mom happy in those months, Ashley helped her out.