“Not again in this house.”
She looked at her mother in shock. She was sixteen years old. She was responsible. She had never done anything so wrong as to get such a reaction from the older woman. “But…” She swallowed, trying to sound the most sensible she could ever sound. “I don’t understand. My lips are dry.”
“Honey. You apply lip balm every five minutes.”
Her mother had noticed. The shame crept out through her very bones and she attempted to push it aside. “It’s not that bad.” They were talking about it now though and she resisted the urge to lick her lips. Resisted the urge to grab at the stick that was in her pocket.
Shaking her head, her mother pulled out a small kitchen garbage bag. She watched in confusion. Upending it over the table, her mother spilled out all of her tubes.
What she first felt was anger. Her mother had been in her room. All over her room. Her privacy had been breached.
Then came the shock. Those couldn’t all be hers, could they? She didn’t own twenty individual chap sticks. Did she? They were her brand, she recognized half in her favorite flavor and-
Finally, the shame returned. Oh god those were hers. She had done that. Her mother had outed her and there was no hiding from it. She bit her lower lip.
“It’s not on par with other compulsions, but honey… something has to change.”
She wanted to agree, but that would require moving her lips. They felt so sensitive, as though the particles in the air had a weighty mass.
“Let’s sit down. We’ll figure this out.”
Finally, she let out a breath. It wasn’t hurting anyone. It wasn’t hurting her. That is what she wanted to say.
The embarrassment clenching up in her stomach, the guilt, said otherwise.
She could only hope her mother was right.