Tanya sipped at her tea as she tapped at the keys of the laptop with a perfectly manicured nail. She regularly wrote about not obsessing over the metrics, but she oftentimes checked her statistics up to ten times a day. Laura had gone to school quietly enough, and Jason had gone to work so there she was, editing the video from last night. She had to adjust the sound as Laura’s crying peaked the sound levels to sharp bursts and Jason tended to devolve to a guttural roar when he was angered. Tanya had been conscious of how she sounded, but she still made sure that her voice came over clear on the video.
The rasp of the scissors against Laura’s hair was crisp and it took a trip through the tutorial before she could mix it so that the whole thing was not too overwhelming on an auditory level.
Tanya had blogged about her opinions on sexting and selfies, adding photographs of Isabel as a toddler on them versus google inspired trips through the various content platforms of what young girls were posting now. She had always been open about her feelings with her daughter and Jason had, like any good husband, backed her. Laura had been allowed Facebook because it helped Tanya with ideas for blog posts, and although Tanya had agreed to not publicly follow her, she had created an account, using a generic cute boy image and relying on the amnesia of acceptance that was part of every social media experience to give her a front row seat to the mundane details of her daughter’s life.
So when she had seen Laura post a photo, pouting nervously with her backside to the camera, she had taken a strange delight in finding inspiration for another post. She had discussed this with Jason and they had called Laura into the garage.
She had denied it at first, but Tanya saw the trembling in her hands, the shifting nervous expressions and pitched denials before finally, she confessed and apologised. Jason had gone to leave the garage but Tanya had put the scissors into his hand and given him a challenging look.
He had taken about a foot off the back of his daughter’s hair, nothing that would not grow back in time but she had wept herself hoarse all the same. The shot of the chestnut hair on the concrete floor was what she was editing on when the doorbell rang.
Tanya sighed and saved the video before shutting the laptop. It had been easier when it was about cloth nappies and attachment parenting, teenagers were not as fertile ground for creative inspiration, perhaps because they had their own opinions and could contradict the brand values that Tanya had applied to the blog. Her phone rang as she left the kitchen and she answered it without checking.
She had not heard Jason cry since his father died, a sound that made the skin on her arms prickle like a chill breeze had passed through her.
‘Honey, what’s wrong?’
He sobbed, too lost to sudden grief to articulate it but she knew.
A mother knows, even a bad one.
She saw the police car on the drive, but through the glass, she saw the officer was talking to his colleague, their faces tight with distaste. Her intuition clicked together, a key turning in the lock and she swallowed a sour realisation down like a bad oyster. They had not seen her in the hallway. She turned on her heel and went back to the laptop, no one would worry too much about the sound quality. After all, she understood that going viral was about timing.