As Alice woke up, before she even knew what day it was, before she even opened her eyes, she knew this would be an unbearable day. And a sticky-wet-sweltering-hot-day to boot.
Something really, really bad could happen today, “and it will be my fault,” she thought, as she went through the laundry basket looking for her least dirty underwear. Last night’s loud, vulgar, abusive argument had sent laundry clear off the to-do list.
“GO TO YOUR ROOM!”
“GO TO YOUR ROOM!”
Finally, knowing he wouldn’t get his way tonight,
With his right arm he swept everything off the kitchen table onto the saltillo tiles as he left the room and slammed out of the door of their apartment. Shattered plates and glasses flew everywhere, shattering life as she had known it with a loud crash. Alice couldn’t face it. Angry and hurt, at a loss what to do, she had just gone to her room, locked the door and turned on the TV. “Maybe if I’m in here he’ll just come in and go to bed.”
“Should I even go to work?” “My luck, I’ll hit a pedestrian or something.”
Dark foreboding made even breathing difficult as she threw some clothes off the chair and sat down to try to catch her breath.
Breathe, two, three, and breathe, two three. Hands crossed over her chest. She noticed her hands were shaking. “That’s fine, it matches the shaky stomach.”
She heard the traffic outside, taxis toot-tooting their warnings, a siren in the distance, some car blasting its music as it passed by, 2 people arguing downstairs, under the open window. Way too much noise. WAY, WAY too much noise. She slammed the window down.
Quiet, that’s what she needed. Quiet. B R E A T H E Two. Three.
Now she couldn’t sit still. She had to KNOW. She unlocked the door, walked to the kitchen. A brief look at the unmade bed in the small, dark, smelly bedroom down the hall confirmed what she already knew. “He’s gone.” “God help him!” Then, “Really, God, please help him, I cannot.”
“Well, good riddance,” she thought defiantly, wondering at the hot tears rolling down her face. “Who needs a God-damned lying, thieving, manipulative, ungrateful, intimidating druggie in the house?” “I can’t stand it any more; I’m done.” “He’s going to juvie if they find him.” “I don’t care how young he is, God, this wasn’t part of the bargain.”
More angry tears followed, uninvited, so annoying. Anger and Worry vied jealously for top billing in her brain. Should she really report him ? He’s only 15. “But someone needs to take care of him, and I’m still responsible for him.” “How am I supposed to take care of him when he does whatever he wants whenever he wants and I have no control over him?” Maybe a call to the school? Not that they’ve seen him in weeks, but maybe they would know what to do next.
“Oh, God, please, this isn’t how I wanted it to be. How could you let this happen? How could I? Oh, please please bring him home safely”
Anger. At the disrespect. He SPIT at her! His mother! He missed, but still.
Anger. She had to lock up her belongings in her own house. He STOLE from her, anything he could sell. Any money he could find.
Anger. He threw the stuff off the table because she wouldn’t give him what he wanted. Money. “Oh, Lord, I still have to clean all that up this morning.”
Anger that she couldn’t believe anything he said.
Anger that she had to hide her shame about him.
Anger, and deep sadness, that her little boy was gone and this, this MONSTER had taken over his body.
Worry. “Where will he sleep tonight? “ Maybe Tommy’s mom has seen him? “I should call.”
Worry. “What will he eat?” Would he steal from the stores? Would anyone take him in?
Worry. Would he be arrested? Or worse, shot?
Worry about bad drugs. About mixed drugs. About overdoses. About drugs at all.
Worry, worry, worry, “Maybe arrested wouldn’t be a bad thing, at least he’d be alive.”
“Oh, God, please protect him today.”
Alice went in and sat down on Tyrone’s bed as the pictures whirled around in her head. Not just those, pictures of him when she adopted him at a sweet two years old. Pictures about laughing and giggling and exploring together. Pictures with his dad and he, fishing, when he was 9 and 10, on wonderful camping trips when Otis was clean and sober. Before…
“Oh, God, don’t even let me go there. If only Otis had been able to keep it together, we were so happy then.”
Alice stood up, went into the kitchen, started picking broken shards up off the floor. One at a time, into the trash can.
Broken pieces of her son. Broken pieces of her life. Broken pieces of her heart. Broken pieces of her dreams.
Sobbing now, she sat on the kitchen floor with her arms around her knees, helpless and lost amidst all the broken pieces.