I ran in with tears on my face as Jessie met me at the door.
"What's wrong? What happened? I thought something was wrong, with the way you answered the phone," Jessie shouted frantically.
"I'm okay, really, it's just been a bad day," I replied.
"No, something's wrong. You don't have to tell me, but it's sometimes better just to let things out," she said in a kind, sweet, caring voice.
"Alright," I answered, realizing she was right.
"Come inside. It's freezing out here."
As I walked inside the front door I felt a breeze of warmth. She led me to her room after her mom told us that dinner would be ready in about three hours. As soon as we entered the room, she embraced me in a hug. I felt the warmth of her fuzzy sweater and her long, blond hair brushing on my face. As I sat on her bed, I looked into her distant eyes. They were as blue and as deep as an ocean. I got lost in the warm, concerned feeling that she had towards me. It was a good feeling, a feeling I have never felt before. I've never felt it from my parents, maybe my dad, but I couldn't remember, not from a friend, and not from my brother. Of course he was too busy with Sesame Street to care.
All of a sudden I got brought back to Jessie's voice saying," Kim, are you okay?"
"I'm just thinking of how terrible I am," I replied, again in tears.
"What happened? What makes you terrible?"
"The… the… the…," I blubbered.
"The what? What happened?" she yelled at me.
"Accident," I say not being able to see Jessie's face through all my tears.
"What accident? Does it have to do with your mom, your dad, what? Kim please tells me so I can help," she said scared.
"No… my brother…and it's my fault," I blurted out.
"You have a brother? I didn't know that. Is he okay? Why is it your fault? What happened?" she said with full concern.
She got me a glass of water and some tissues. I sat back and after a while I finally calmed down. I looked at her face. It was stone white and blurry through the left over tears my eyes still held.
"Okay, it's about time I let my story out and I talk about it," I stated as I lay down, remembering it all. She sat on the end of the bed, faced me, leaned forward, and was silent. So I figured she was ready for me to start. I started to tell her the beginning of it all, which was my parents' divorce. This was about two years ago and I was about to be 17. This was the point at which I needed to start my story.
It began when my mom answered the door and started to flirt with the guy on the other side. My dad was mad at my mom because he loved her. My mom then started to yell at my dad that he should go and look for a better paying job, or for him to work longer hours. I sat there in the middle of this all and want to say, "Mom, he is already working 17 hours a day. How much more can he work?" But I felt it was better just to keep my mouth shut.
My 17th birthday was when the big fight began. My mom had forgotten all about my birthday and my dad was mad. It turned out she was out getting her nails done with the money that was meant to buy my cake. I felt sad, not for me, but for my dad. He works so hard and he wanted to make my birthday special, but instead his wife forgot his daughter's birthday. I think my dad thought he had disappointed me, but his just being there made me happy. I am now sorry I never told him that. When my mom got home, the yelling started. I focused on entertaining my brother so I wasn't able to concentrate on what was being said.
Finally, at the end of what seemed to feel like a never ending argument, they actually agreed on one thing. I would rather them not agree on anything than on this. Unfortunately, it was their decision, not mine. They both agreed it was time for a divorce. I sat in horror that something so terrible could bring people to silence.
My dad really wanted custody of us and I too really wanted him to have custody of us. Again, it wasn't my decision. This time a judge decided. My mom was awarded custody over us.
I remember sitting there, in court, almost 3 months after my birthday, with my brother on my lap, as the judge announced his decision. With in that one statement, I knew my life was going to go down hill. He had visitation rights, but I guess he was too upset to just come and visit. My dad was the one who truly would care, love, and be there for us. The last time I saw my dad is an image I will never forget. His eyes were wet, he also wore a strained looking smile, the way he did when my mom complained we had no money and he didn't work enough after a 17 hour shift. He lifted Nicky and threw him up in the air, they way he always did to make Nicky laugh. Nicky did laugh, not understanding the full situation. My dad kissed us both on the forehead, and without saying a word left. When we finally got home, I ran through the front door, looking around the house for any sign that my dad had not left. I ran to the room that my dad and mom used to share and I found that he had not left one article of clothing. I fell to the floor and started to cry hysterically. Nicky ran in and fell on to my lap with a smile, as always, on his face. He looked up at the ceiling as to see where the drops of the water falling on his head were coming from. As he looked at my sad face, I tried hard to make a smile, but I just couldn't.
"What wrong, Kimmy? What you crying about?" Nicky said in his small, sad voice.
"Nothing, Nicky," I replied.
"Ok," he shouted with glee. "Airplane, airplane," he yelled.
From that day on, I've taken care of my brother. Driving him to and from school, feeding him, helping him with the little homework he got, reading to him, giving him baths, and putting him to sleep. I also had to deal with the fact of my mother never being home, because she was always out with one of her boyfriends. I mean, I love my brother, but once in a while, I would like my mom to take care of my brother, so that I could spend some time with my friends. I had no fun in my life because my life was taking care of this family, or what was left of it. From that point on, the problems just got worse.
One day, I looked in the mail box as I do everyday. Usually, there's nothing in it, but today there laid a single envelope. I got so excited, thinking it was from my dad; instead, it was the rent bill. My mom was too busy with her boyfriends to care about anything else. Any money we got from our dad for child support either went to food or my mom's pocket. I felt I had no choice and I immediately went to look for a job.
If that wasn't enough, I was also failing my classes, which kept me from graduating my senior year. I watched as the people my age, leave to start new exciting lives of their choice. My life was chosen for me. It was based around my brother and my new found job at "Shop Rite". With all this, I tried to keep up with my studies, but fell far behind. Class was basically the only time to sleep. One day I got home early from school. I had time before I had to pick up Nicky and then start my next shift. When I walked into the kitchen, on the counter was an opened bottle of whiskey. I was so stressed out I asked myself, "Why not try a sip?" One sip led to another and another and another. It felt so good. All my problems seemed to go away and I was floating on a cloud. I took the bottle of whiskey, and hid it so I could just grab it when I needed to relive my stress.
It was the start of summer and I was 18. Yet again, I tried to graduate, but I failed. My grades weren't high enough to meet the standards. At this point, I was just way too stressed. I ran home so it could all go away. By this time, I was up to drinking about 12 shots a night and then falling asleep. I ran to the spot were I hid the whiskey bottles I found, and they were empty, all 27 of them! I looked in the cabinets. I was starting to cry, break down, and get angry. Finally, on top of the fridge, I found a 12 ounce bottle of whiskey. I pulled the top off and started to chug the bottle. I remember the feeling, feeling as though everything was good, as though I was floating on a cloud and nothing bad could ever happen. Oh no! It's 3 I have to pick up Nicky from school, I suddenly realized. I gulped down the last few sips and got into the car. I thought I was fine. I picked up Nicky and was on the way to the store to pick up the groceries. Nicky was in his car seat in the back the on the passenger side, playing with his little toy cars. I was moving slowly. A car was whipping around the corner to catch the green light, as I went through the red one. I remember waking up to find my car smashed with no other cars in sight. I grabbed my phone and called 911, never looking in the back; too scared of what I might see. This all must have been some time later because I no longer felt drunk. I decided I had to pull him out of the car so he could get help as soon as they came. I remember tearing off the door to find Nicky covered in blood. I was about to start CPR when the police and ambulance arrived. Then took me away from him and promised they would care for him. I started to yell frantically, "Is he okay?" as another ambulance member took me away.
When we got to the hospital, doctors were always with me; afraid I would get up and leave. I was going out of my mind, what have I done? Did my mom know? Did my mom care? Would my dad know and come help? Was my brother okay? After undergoing a number of tests, they realized I had been drinking. They explained to me that I had to go through rehab and I would see a psychiatrist. I didn't care. I remember sitting there thinking that no one was on my side. I just wanted to take my little brother and go home.
I was then put into a small office with cream-colored walls. The desk was big. It was neat with nothing on it except for a note pad, pen, computer, and a little white lamp. I sat and waited hoping to find out what was happening. A tall, thin lady with brown wavy hair came in and sat down behind the desk, across from me. Her face was gentle and sweet.
"Hi, Kim. I'm Dr. Valley and I'm here to talk to you about what's been happening in your life."
At first I started off with general information, like I was 18 and I was a senior in high school. The way she looked at me made me think I was talking to my dad. Then, I opened up completely and told her everything, from the time Nicky was born to the accident. As I cried and cried, she sat, listened, and nodded. She didn't think of me as a bad person, she looked at me as a person that wanted and needed help.
Now thinking back, she wasn't worried. She didn't care the way Jessie did. Jessie had true worry in her face from the time I got to her house in tears. Dr. Valley was only doing her job. She never truly was worried about me, but she still helped.
After I finished my story, Dr. Valley left the room. When she returned, she returned with a man in a white suit.
"I have some things to tell you," he said in a voice that sounded ominous. "You will come here and talk to Dr. Valley once a week. You will also continue school and attend rehab three times a week, after school. I also have some news about your brother."
I looked deep into his deep blue eyes knowing the news wasn't good.
"He is in a coma. We understand your mother is away, but we'll contact her as soon we know anything else. Would you like an escort to take you home?" he said trying to be helpful.
"No thanks, I think I'll be able to find my way home," I stated in a depressed manner. I couldn't believe it; rehab, psychiatrist, and no brother. How much worse could my life get?
Life got hard, school got hard. I remember crying myself to sleep every night. One night, I blew at my mother, when she asked me where my brother was. I wasn't sad, I was angry.
"How could you have not noticed? He has been in the hospital for five months. You never knew he was in a coma. Well, of course you haven't, I've had to cover for you the whole time. Dad should have taken us, he would have cared!" I yelled letting everything go.
"How dare you talk to me like that! I'm your mother. Fine, you know what? When your father comes back, from wherever he is, he can have you. Until then, you treat me and whoever I date with respect. If I were you, I wouldn't get my hopes up. He hasn't come to see you in two years so he obviously doesn't care. Now, I'm leaving for Paris in the morning, for Christmas, with Jonny. Good-bye and see you in the New Year."
She left as though nothing had happened and what she said about my dad made me truly think about it. One whole month with my mother away seemed no different from when she was home. My life continued to go on; school, come home, go to rehab (on Monday, Wednesdays, and Friday), do homework, eat, shower, and then bed. The same routine every day. Then the holidays rolled around. Everyone around me was giggling and laughing about what they wanted for Christmas and how they were going to spend their vacations.
In English class, I had to write an essay on how the community could be better and how we can achieve it. This is where I met you. We were partners. You read mine and I read your's. Your's was excellent. It had thought and feeling, while mine was just words on paper.
"So, what are you doing for the holidays?" you asked me in a sweet voice.
"Home alone," I replied with no emotion in my voice.
"Oh, that's sad; I'm spending mine with my family."
"Ring," the bell that would part us.
"See you in the new year," you shouted. I didn't respond. I ran home and went to sleep, trying to hide my sadness. Five days went by with me sitting in bed. No calls, no nothing.
On Christmas day, I woke up as any other day, only I new it was going to be different. I was sick of life. My dad was gone, my brother was only getting worse, and I had no friends. I sat holding the gun that my mom kept for protection in my hand, looking at our living room. No tree, no presents, and the one thing that mattered the most, no family. I went to my room, the room that I used to share with my brother. I looked from the little pile of toys that hadn't been played with in months to the picture of dad on my night stand. He had been gone for two years and there was no hope now. I lifted the gun up to my head, while looking at the picture of my dad holding my brother. They both smiled at me in a joyful mood. My fingers shook as my pointer finger was about to move backwards releasing the bullet.
"Ring, ring, ring," the phone started. It was so loud in the quiet house, it made me jump. I went to answer it.
"Hello," I answered. I was scared who might be on the other end and what news they might bring.
"Hi, Kim? It's me Jessie. I just was calling to see if you would like to come over for a Christmas dinner. You know, seeing as you're all alone," you said on the phone in a voice I will never forget. It sounded glorious, the gates of a heart opening for a new friend.
My voice started to crack as I said," I would love to, thank you so much."
"Okay, you can come over now if you would like," your voice sounding as if you knew what I had been planning.
"That would be great. See you soon," I was able to get out. The phone cracked and I knew you hung up. The tears came and came and came. I dropped the gun, threw on my coat, and ran. I ran all the way, letting my thoughts of suicide stay behind.
As I finished the story, I realized Jessie was crying.
"Oh…my…gosh! I…didn't know it was that bad," she stuttered. She grabbed some tissues from her desk. She looked into my eyes, not as the psychologist did, but with true love. She came towards me and gave me a hug, the type of hug my dad used to give me, the ones that made me feel safe and loved.
"Dinner time girls," Jessie's mom yelled, not aware of what I had just told Jessie. We ran down the stairs, starved after that long story. The food was so good. I hadn't eaten anything so good in over two years. The food melted in my mouth with every bite I took. After we stuffed ourselves, we ran back up to Jessie's room.
"Let's go," she said in an excited tone.
"Where?" I stated excited too, although I had no clue why I should be.
"To the hospital. I mean its Christmas. Your brother deserves his family there on Christmas," she said sounding satisfied with her idea.
"Are you sure? Your mom isn't going to be mad?" I said about to cry.
"Oh, just come on," she yelled, walking out her bedroom door.
"Mom we're going for a ride," she told her mom.
"Alright, just be careful. The roads are slippery."
We got in the car and started down the road. The car Jessie had was nice. It had all wheel drive and it glided through the streets. The snow flakes looked like little fairies as they danced in the air. I close my eyes in fear of what news was awaiting my arrival. Well, maybe he is getting better, I thought, but in my heart I knew it wasn't true. I don't believe in God, but I had to pray just in case there was one. Dear God. I know I haven't been good. It's all my fault this happened, but Nicky shouldn't suffer for my doings. I'll do anything for my little brother to be okay. That's all I wish for Christmas. I sat there saying this in my head.
My thoughts are interrupted by Jessie saying, "We're here." I open my eyes to find we were parked and Jessie was stepping out of the car. I jump out and caught up to her. We walk in past the front desk and stepped into the elevator.
Jessie must have noticed I was worried because she said, "Calm down, its okay. What ever happens, I'm here for you."
I looked at her, and for the first time, I realized I never said thank you so I said, "Thank you so much! Thank you so much for everything!"
Her eyes glow as she said, "That's what friends are for." As we stepped off the elevator and onto the landing my thoughts came back to my brother. We walk slowly down the hall and finally, reach his room! We walk in and there was a man sitting next to the bed. He looked up as tears flooded his face. I looked into his eyes and started to cry.
"Daddy, I've missed you. I'm sorry, it's entire my fault. Is he okay? What is going on?" I yelled. I looked at him and all he did was smile. Not that same smile he wore when he left, but a smile like he really meant it. I was confused. He still didn't say anything. He just turned his head to the lifeless body in the bed. Within a minute, my tears which were of mixed sadness and happiness turned to only ones of happiness, as what seemed to be a lifeless body moves.
My little brother sat up and said, "Hi Kimmy, guess what? Daddy has come to take us home with him."