This story is inspired by and named for the daughters of Amanda Stanton, Minor Star of Bachelor Nation, Year 2016
Our names are Kinsley and Charlie. We are waiting for our mother to come home.
In Los Angeles, in a mansion, our mother is falling in love with Prince Charming.We are waiting for her to come home. Prince Charming’s other name is Ben.
While we wait, we play in our plastic castle, our wooden kitchen. We wait. Our Aunt Jo is here, and she tells us we’re good kids. We know that we are. We’re good, golden-haired kids; we are the best.
Ben — Prince Charming — made us barrettes. Our mother cried when he gave them to her. She cried when she gave them to us because Prince Charming sent her home before the Fantasy Suites. But for now we don’t know that, we just wait and play at washing up.
Our names are Kinsley and Charlie and we are waiting for our mother to come home.
Prince Charming has been to our house and he has been to our beach. We ran with him, chased seagulls around. By the end of the day, we were so very tired. The people with the cameras and the microphones and the makeup were nice but they talked all day, all day.
Our mother still had her beautiful, beautiful voice and her beautiful, beautiful hair that she had ombréed to within an inch of its life (her words) but she had something new about her, too. A tightness. It may have been hope.
Our names are Kinsley and Charlie and we have never been so thrilled. Our mother is home, but not for long! She is going to Paradise and she could not deserve it more.
We leap into bed with her when she hears the news; we cover her with kisses. Small, short kisses with smacking sounds. We crawl all around her, forehead, shoulders, shins. Our mother — Amanda! — laughs and she laughs, then cries again, tears streaming straight into her ears as she stares at the ceiling, holding her phone to her chest.
Paradise is where we saw our first French kiss. Aunt Jo let us watch once when our mother was away. Shocking! Disgusting! Not what we’d want to see! But we were brave and paid attention, grateful to be awake.
Our names are Kinsley and Charlie and we are waiting for our mother to come home, but we’re used to that now, we really don’t mind. Today we told some kids at our school that our mother has been to the Fantasy Suite at long last and it was total bliss and this is The One. Now we are in trouble with Aunt Jo. We aren’t getting Zoodles for supper like she said that we would.
Our names are Kinsley and Charlie and our mother has been back home for years. Now she’s almost always close by, adjusting the labels and hems of our clothes. We are a goth and a butch respectively and our mother blames herself. This is one of the things we scream at her for when we aren’t screaming at each other. “It’s nothing to do with you, it’s just who we are!” We scream, again and again.
Why now, when we’ve had shock and disgust and pleasure from various French kisses ourselves? Why now, when we have zits and bloats and pains and yearnings? It doesn’t seem fair when she brings it up. It seems this is not in our orbit any more. We are straining against the skin of this past, which is a normal strain and our right as suburban American teens.
Strangely, both of us wear our barrettes from Prince Charming. We manage to work them into our respective personal styles almost every day.
Our names are Kinsley and Charlie. It doesn’t matter how long we had to wait. A proposal is worth everything. Don’t try to tell us we suffered. Don’t say she was not a good mom. She was doing it all for us and we knew, watching it back, so many times over the years. Our young mother, French kissing and drinking and crying away. She tried for us, she fought. For us.
We won’t give you spoilers now, we won’t spill the beans. Of course there were ups, of course there’s been downs. Do we have edgier senses of humour than we might have? Frankly, that’s all for the best.
Would she do it again? “Absolutely!” she says, always, when we come home to visit from our college towns. But she says it in different ways.
Aunt Jo might snort, or she might tear up a bit and hold her hand. We might sigh and roll our eyes at each other, subtly, so she’ll never see. We might say a lot to reassure her, if she’s had two or three glasses and comes at us with her very soft blouse richly perfumed with Flowerbomb brushing against our cheeks as she presses us to her.
“It was what you needed to do, Mom,” we might say, our voices overlapping, play-kitchen on our minds, and also our barrettes from Ben that will live in our drawers for the rest of our lives.
It all depends on the day.
Julia Tausch lives in Toronto with her partner and three cats. She wrote the novel Another Book About Another Broken Heart and has published fiction and essays in places like Joyland, Vice, Bön Appetit, and The Hairpin. She is currently working on a memoir that is taking one million years to write. You can follow her on Twitter here.