My mom would be there any minute. I decided to hide at the neighbor’s house. It was easy to lie to them. “My mom is coming over,” I said. “I don’t know why, but I’m not allowed to see her. Dad said so.”
I was 12. They believed me because they never liked my mother. I’d called my dad at work and told him mom was coming to the house. When he asked why, I lied to him. “I don’t know.”
“You don’t have to see her if you don’t want to. Do what you think is best.” He’s confused. Mom has never come to the house without talking to him first.
I peeked out the neighbor’s kitchen window. Mom parked her ’78 Toyota and walked up to dad’s front door. She knocked and waited. She had a bag in her hand. I knew she would worry and I didn’t want to worry her. But I didn’t want her to talk to me either.
A empty lot was between my house and the neighbor’s. A cow pasture stretched far past out backyards. A lake filled with cattails and alligators was the front yard. The road cut through our properties. Mom walked around dad’s house and looked through windows.
The neighbors chattered behind me while I spied on my mom. They never suggested I tell my mother where I was. I knew better grown ups would’ve done something proper. I wondered if mom would call the police or wait in her car until I showed myself.
I put my hand on the kitchen door and then stepped back. I could think of no way to explain my cowardice. She wanted to talk to me about girl things. I wanted to say, I’ve read Judy Blume and loads of other books. I’ve talked to older girls. I know, I know, I know. Leave me alone. Mom had given me a preliminary chat in the car a few weeks prior.
Mom stood in the driveway for a while and stared out at the lake. Then she got in her car and drove away. She never said anything else to me about. Even later when I lived with her, she didn’t ask me where I had been that day.
I spent the rest of the afternoon in my room wishing I’d been born a boy.
Now I’m trying to get an agent. I’ve got to choose a category, right? Literary fiction, fantasy, women’s fiction… What is that? Women’s fiction? I’m a woman and my main character is female. Is that it? Why? I don’t want to lose readers because of gender. Can only a woman enjoy my novel? Do men have to wonder if their novels are men’s fiction? What would that be anyway?
How do you decide what category/genre you should be in? Does a label like women’s fiction help or hurt?