December 18, 2013

One ring.

Two rings.

Three rings.

"Hello? Hello?"

Mike's breath catches at the sound of his mother's voice, a sound he hasn't heard in over a week, apart from her voice mail message. Leaning against the payphone for support, he drags his hand through his hair, now mussed out of its meticulously styling.

"Is anyone there? Regis, if this is you I will—" Mike straightens at the sound of the anger in his mother's voice, remembering why he is calling.

"Uh, Mom, it's me, Mike." His voice cracks on the last word, and he hears her sigh on the other end. At another time, he might have thought it to be a sigh of relief that he was safe and calling her, but he now expects it's closer to a sound uttered out of exasperation and annoyance rather than one of love and concern.

"Mikey." There is a pause, during which he can nearly see her taking a long drag of her cigarette. "I have been meaning to call you. Honestly, sweetie."

Mike pinches the bridge of his nose, a gesture he's picked up from Jakes over the last five months. "I wanna believe you." He swallows. "I really do. But you're making it hard to."

Another pause. Perhaps this time she's taking a swig out of whatever bottle of alcohol she's holding. "I've just been busy," his mother slurs. "Honest to God, Mikey—"

"Busy?!" Mike interrupts incredulously, as his frustration boils over. "I called you thirty-seven times this week. There's no way you were busy every single damned day!" Somewhere at the back of his mind, he registers that he'll have to place his first dollar in the swear jar, which had been filled primarily by Johnny and Briggs.

"Mikey..." She trails off, perhaps lost for words, perhaps lost in whatever drug she's managed to procure this week.

"Don't "Mikey" me!" Mike continues loudly, unaware of those passing him on the sidewalk, occasionally giving him strange looks. "I've been listening to 'Mikey, not this time' and 'Mikey, sorry, I'm just too busy' for fifteen years!" Angry tears well up in his eyes, and he wipes away a bit of snot that dripped onto his lip. "You promised that if I tried to help you, we could be a family again." His voice breaks again. "I want that, but I don't know if you do. Please, just be honest with me."

Another sigh. Definitely not one of affection or sadness. Distinct annoyance, even to the boy who wants to believe his mother still loves him. "Mikey—Michael, I wish the circumstances were different, but—"

"But you still don't want me do you? You still don't love me," he states, only realizing the truth in his words as he utters them. "I just make your life harder."

She protests, "That's not true!"

Mike continues as though she hadn't contested his statement. "Because then you wouldn't be able to do whatever you wanted. No! If you had your kid with you, you couldn't party like you want or shoot up whenever you like."

"Don't you dare talk to me like that! I deserve to let loose every once in a while." This time, Mike hears her slosh drink into her mouth. "I've had a hard life, Mikey—I mean, Michael."

He feels more tears in his eyes. "Yeah, I can understand that. I got taken away from my home, Mom. It hasn't been easy for me lately either." Somehow, there is still some hope left in Mike that his mother wants to be his mother. "But, uh maybe life would be easier for both of us if we tried to be a familyvagain."

"Michael..."

"Really, I could help you!" He scrambles to give his mother reasons why she should keep him around. "I, uh, I'm handy around the house. I can fix things, clean, all kinds of stuff."

His mother laughs derisively, the "sweet, caring Mom" act washed away, likely with a bottle of vodka. "I doubt my roommates would appreciate a fifteen-year-old being around."

"You-you won't even know I'm there!" he sputters. "I can help you."

A long pause. Somehow, Mike knows she's not considering his offer. The air chills slightly as the sun slowly sets, causing him to zip up his jacket.

He desperately tries one last time. "Mom, please," he begs, a single tear rolling down his left cheek, followed by many others after her final words.

"Mike, I'm sorry." She isn't. "I know I can't give you what you want." Mike's mother hangs up, the line dead to his protests, pleading, and tears.

He stares at the phone for several seconds before placing it back on the hanger. After putting on the hood of his crimson red jacket, he zips it up completely and begins slowly heading back to the house, stunned and numb to the pain from what was surely Sylvia Warren's final rejection of him.

Despite his disbelief and detachment, one thought spins through Mike's mind. This is all my fault.


A/N- Hey, so this is my first real fic. I've been waiting for someone else to write it, but that took too long so I'm writing it. Please review! Be gentle with me, but point out any and all grammar errors.