"I'm guessing you went there again,"
I let out a grunt, not trusting my voice at the moment. I didn't have to turn
around to look at his face, I knew he was disgusted. Anyone can hear it in his voice
or see it on his face. I could at least avoid one out of the two.
"And you're still paying the phone bill I see."
I nodded; I could still hear her voice on the voicemail. With that thought I couldn't hold back the feeble whimper that left me.
He sighed, "And you're crying too?!"
A part of me hoped that it was sympathy in his voice. I buried my head into the pillow even more, hoping in vain for the pain to stop long enough for the tears to disappear, long enough for him to not hate me any more than he already does for being so weak. It was my fault, why was I allowed to cry about something I caused.
"I'm sorry dad, I just can't."
"Don't. Just stop crying ok, dinners downstairs." He let out a grunt tapped his foot
4 times then left the room. I cried even harder than because that was the first time
my father spoke to me since the end of my mother's funeral.
When I joined him at the table his head was ducked down above a bowl of soup. I
didn't expect a grand feast, but a bowl of Campbell's chicken noodle soup was
better than a 10 dollar bill, stack of menus and a phone; this showed some effort.
I remember everything about that night; the sleep deprivation, the anger, the
desperation, and that moment when all hope was gone. I died in that moment, and
so did she.
She screamed, the sound tearing the very core of me. I stumbled towards her
grabbing her hand, she scratched violently at her neck, howling from the pain. Her
eyes rolled back and her teeth sank into her bottom lip, drawing blood. I stared in
horror thinking that this wasn't real life.
"Just calm down and breathe. I know it's hard but try for me. Love me enough to try for me. It'll all be over. Dad is coming back with the Tramadol."
She whimpered and gasped, calming down as I stroked her hair. I could see the
strain in her eyes to keep herself calm. I knew at that moment that her being calm
was benefitting me more than her. Help was on its way, my dad would hate to
come home and find the house empty, I didn't even have a phone.
"Mom, the medication is coming just wait until the pharmacy opens." I whispered.
I looked at her; her entire body gleamed with sweat. Her eyes shifted from left to
right and scrunched close in pain. She looked all wrong, her hair was wet mess
strewed about on the pillow drenched in her sweat. She wasn't herself, she wasn't
wearing a patterned dress, or a smile; just a black tank top and tattered sweats. She
closed her eyes and hummed. Then all went silent. It was too silent, too calm. I
climbed over her on the bed to listen to her heart. It thumped quickly in her chest,
it wasn't normal none of it was normal. She broke the calm with a howl and
quieted down into a guttural groan.
"I can't sweetie. Not anymore, five years is too long to die. It hurts sweetie. My heart, it can't take the pain anymore."
"You can't just , you can't do this," I could hear it, she was giving up.
"I wish I could take the pain from you, I wish I could take it all away." I was sobbing, angry at her for making me see all of this making me feel useless. She stroked my hair and I looked at her eyes again. She wasn't straining as much, but it was still there.
"Just call the ambulance, don't tell them what's wrong, and don't wait for your father." She stage whispered.
"What do you want me to do then, let you die?"
"You're not letting me die."
Her eyes closed and she let out a growl.
I couldn't watch this anymore, and like the obedient daughter I called 911.
"Come quick, my mom is dying."
A withdrawal, that's what took my mom, that's what made her final hours
unbearable. Six years ago she needed brain and spinal cord surgery, something
about a deformity that could cause brain damage and paralysis. Out of fear she did
it, the surgery was a success and all went well. But I knew she wasn't the same
because recovery would take years. She experienced constant pain, describing it as
having her brain ripping apart. For years she took the pill Tramadol, little did we
know, halted use caused life threatening withdrawals. That night Charlie went to
work and my mother didn't have her medication. She wanted to see if she could
survive a day without it. She was wrong. I could still hear the howling, I could still
feel her nails digging into my arm when she wanted me to stop the muscle tremors.
I could still I feel myself loosing hope; losing myself when the doctor came back
and told me she was gone. I was only ten and I knew that I had lost my life.
Because I knew she gave up. In my mind my mother killed herself, because she let
her heart stop, she didn't fight, she left me and I couldn't control her will to live.
Now I had a father who came home and found the house in ruins, who would call
everyone on his contact list looking for his wife and daughter. If I thought about it
when my father found the home empty and my mother and I gone; that may have
been the final moments of my father's love for me. Because I saw the light in his
eyes die when he saw me and heard that she didn't make it. He knew I didn't take
care of her the way I was supposed to. He tapped his foot four times and sat next to
me. I expected a hug, a hand on my shoulder some comfort but looking back I
realized that he died too. So we both stared at the white linoleum floor in the silence that night.
"You shouldn't be crying." He took another sip of his soup and looked down as though he didn't say a word.
I knew it; he didn't think I deserved to be guilty.
"I know it's entirely my fault, I'll stop crying. I shouldn't be."
He dropped the spoon into the bowl and looked up at me confused. Some of it fell on his chest and he wiped at the scolding liquid.
"It's not your fault." He said. Grabbing a napkin and cleaning the mess around him.
"It is." I said simply, taking the first spoonful of my dinner. It made me feel a little better, or was it finally admitting my guilt out loud.
"It's not." He threw down the napkin and rubbed his temples in frustration. He was acting strange, like he really believed what he was saying.
I looked up at him, choking on another sob, wondering when they would finally stop.
"Then why don't you love me anymore daddy?" The tears silently slid down my face. I waited with baited breath for the words that would affect me more than anything.
He didn't answer me, he simply stood up and walked towards the sink and dumped his soup; leaving me in the silence. I pushed back my chair and placed my head between my knees and did what I knew best. I tried my best to survive this new heartache.
I calmed down long enough to walk back to my room and lay down on my bed. My head hurt from all the memories and crying, so I took four Advil's and laid down staring at the ceiling. Sleep took me eventually.
The next day I dressed for school quickly, blocking out my thoughts. I picked up my book bag and walked to the front door.
I turned around and saw him sitting in his chair, a beer in hand. He fiddled with the beer top and flicked it, it landed at my feet. I bent down and picked it up, turning it around in my fingers.
"You look like her."
He grunted, then tapped his foot.