Kept Woman [kept] [woo m-uh n]

Photography by Devon Butler

Sarah sits at the table while her mother’s friend fills her in on the past two years. As the words baby, house and husband float from her mouth and hang in the air around them, Sarah’s index finger and thumb pick at the deep fried appetizer in front of her. Her head is bowed toward the dish, but her eyes are upward, locked on her mother. When Sarah’s mother would, feeling her glare, look over, she would throw her eyes back on her plate and hum, inconspicuously.

Her mother’s friend slows her speech; the words merely dribbling. She turns her focus to Sarah’s mother, pulling stories out of her. Sarah’s mother’s mouth opens and with downward curls, speaks of accomplishments, love, and stability.

And Sarah’s eyes widen. She squirms in the cheap vinyl booth and takes a sip of her soda. And she continues picking at the secrets on the plate in front of her, swallowing hard and gulping long.

L.M. Olsen has been a Blueprint contributor since 2011.