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"Whitney, can you come down?"

My mother calls me for the second time from downstairs. Unfortunately, since we're the only ones in this house, and she can yell louder than a foghorn, my plan to keep ignoring her is useless.

"I will soon!" I call back from my room.

I hear her loud footsteps at the bottom of the stairs interspersed by a groan. "If you're on your phone or watching TV, you better bring your ass down here right now."

I look around me and see the flashing screen of my Mac and the open app on my phone, cheeks turning red. She knows me far too well.

"My ass will make an appearance!"

I clamber out of my room into the hallway and head down the stairs. I find her in the kitchen, zeroing in on the cacophony of clashing pots and pans echoing into the living room. "I'm here, Mom."

She looks up at me, the same green eyes I have meeting mine. "I need your help. This kitchen is a mess, and to be honest, the only person I trust to organize it with me is you."

Or it could be the fact that Dad, Poppy, and Levi are all out golfing, and I'm the only person here, but sure.

"Sure, where would you like me to start?"

I walk inside and start recycling the stack of advertisement newspapers into the trash. My dad collects them for no reason, since I've never seen him pick one of them up and actually look at the deals on boxed pasta and toilet paper.

"Get started on the pantry," she says. She yanks out a large colander from the cabinet and sets it on the counter, mumbling, "Why is this even here?"

I open the pantry and scan shelves and shelves of different food groups. The room isn't entirely disorganized, but some cans and boxes would better belong in other areas, and some simply need throwing out. I pick up a box of cereal and read the expiration date.

"Mom, this expired last Thanksgiving," I say, chucking it into the trash. "Why is it here?"

"Oh, you know how your father is, 'expiration dates are only relative,'" she says, mimicking him in a deep baritone.

The prospect of cleaning this kitchen doesn't seem too bad when I realize it gives me the perfect opportunity to talk to her. My senior year was so hectic that our relationship was often reduced to formalities, and I desperately miss her advice, even though I don't take it half the time.

"Mom, I want to ask you something, and I need you to be honest," I say and put down the box of Honey Bunches of Oats in my hand. "Do you think I'm fat?"

She spins around, her eyebrows knitted together in confusion. "Where on earth would you get that idea?"

"People," I say vaguely. She narrows her eyes for more clarification. "People, places, school. People from places such as school."

A person from school named Willow, I don't add.

"Oh, Whitney." She presses her fingers to her forehead, but her eyes widen slightly, as if a thought just occurred to her. "Does this have anything to do with that Willow girl?"

"No." The lie slips out of my mouth before I can stop it. "Well, I mean, I guess, but she's not the only reason I think that way."

"If you want my real, unfiltered opinion, no, I don't think you're fat," she says and stands up, looking me dead in the eyes. "Lazy, undoubtedly, but I'd love you the same at any weight, Whit."

"Why is that such a mom-ish answer, though?"

"Are you asking for a smack?"

"No, ma'am." I remember my manners and get back to where I left off with this pantry.

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