Monday, June 13, 2011

The Saga Continues

I was going to write a fabulous post about how fabulous you guys are how fabulous I am, but I am ill with Parvo.  Ya know?  The dog disease.  Or maybe the Black Death.  Either way I feel all icky and yucky so I'm going to post  "what happens next with John and Darcy" which I wrote back when I was Parvo-free.  If you need to get caught up to speed click on the John and Darcy tabby thing at the top.  I would link to it, but I have Black Death, remember?  Apparently it makes you very lazy.

CHAPTER TWO, PART TWO (of John and Darcy)

The house was quiet when I got home.  I headed for the kitchen and made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, quite an exciting way to start the weekend.  The rest of Franklin High was getting ready for the big game tonight.  We were playing Forest Hill or Twin Forest, or something, and it was going to be our toughest battle this season - or so they'd said at the Pep Rally - but still no match for the mighty Wolverines.

I planned to spend my night watching a marathon of The Office on TBS.

"Hey sweetheart," my dad said, coming into the kitchen.  "How was school?"

"Oh, peachy."

"Get the Anatomy test back yet?"

"Yep."

"And?"

I hesitated for a second.  "One hundred."

"That's my girl."  He kissed the top of my head.

"Plans with the girls tonight?"

"They're in D.C. for a -"

"Where is it?" my mother screamed, flying into the kitchen.  "What did you do with it?"

"What?" my father asked.

She flew at him.  "It's mine."  She pounded her fists on his chest.  "You can't take it!  It's mine!  You have no right!"

My father grabbed her by the shoulders.  "What?  What is yours?" 

How could he not know?

"My vodka.  It's not here.  I've had nothing.  NOTHING!  All day!"

I looked at the clock.  It was four in the afternoon and my mother hadn't had a drink?  This was not good.

"Tell me, you bastard.  Where is it?"

"Marilyn, I - "

She started slapping his chest.  Each slap harder than the next. "Tell me!"  Slap.  Slap.  SLAP.

"I took it," I said.

Both of my parents looked at me.

"I poured it down the drain," I said, looking at my father.

SMACK!  I heard the slap before I felt the sting.  I raised my hand to my cheek.  It wasn't the first time my mother had hit me, but it was the first time she'd done it sober.

"Marilyn!" my father roared.

"Don't you ever do that again," my mother shouted at me.  "Do you hear me, you ungrateful brat?"  Her spit showered my face as she screamed.

My father grabbed her by the waist and pulled her away from me.  "Marilyn, don't you ever do that again."  His face possessed a controlled rage.  "If you ever hit Darcy again, I'll..."

"You'll what, Frank?  Hit me?  You wanna hit me?  Go ahead.  GO AHEAD!"

My father said nothing.

"Come on, Frank, hit me."  She shoved him.  "You aint got the balls."  She shoved him again.  "Hit me.  Come on.  Do it."  Another shove.

My father's chest absorbed her blows without flinching. 

"Hit me, Frank.  HIT ME!"  Tears started falling down her face, pouring from her sunken eyes, down her hollowed cheeks.  "Hit me."  Her voice grew desperate.

"Please, hit me."  Pitiful.

She fell to the ground and started to sob.

"Please, Frank.  Hit me."  Pathetic.

I couldn't take any more.  I pushed my stool back and grabbed by backpack.

My father, already on the floor beside my mother, looked at me, an apology in his tired eyes.

"I'm going to the library."

He nodded.  "Be safe."  He pulled my mother into his lap and rocked her while she sobbed.

I ran upstairs to my room and reached into the bottom of my underwear drawer pulling out the bottle of Popov and pack of cigarettes.  I shoved them in my bag, grabbed my sweatshirt and flew down the stairs.  Before I walked out the door, I heard my father say, "Shh Mary.  It'll be okay."

But it wouldn't.  Nothing had been okay since Benny died.

***

By the time I got to the dock the sun was setting.  I sat down and let out a shaky breath.  It took me three tries to light the cigarette.  I took a long draw and held it in for several seconds before exhaling. 

The last time I'd seen my mother like that I was fourteen and she'd decided to quit drinking.  She was seeing some shrink, some quack, who'd told her she didn't need AA - no program, no sponsor - to give up drinking.  All she needed was her mind.  Three days without a drink and she'd lost it.

I finished the cigarette, opened the bottle of water leftover from lunch and dropped the cigarette inside.  I slipped on my sweatshirt, lit another one and exhaled into the dark fall sky, following the trail of smoke until it dissipated into the night.

Eleven years.  That's how long it's been since my brother died.  My mother had taken us to the movies - Pokemon 3, my brother's choice - and we were on our way to Chan's Chinese Takeout before heading home.  My mother was on the phone with my father trying to talk over the sounds of me whining that Benny was touching me.  After one particularly eye-pinching shriek she told him she had to go, and that yes, she'd make sure there were extra egg rolls in our order.

She said goodbye and dropped her phone.  It missed her open purse and it fell to the floorboard.  She reached down, rooted around, took her eyes off the road.  The car swerved.

"Mom!"  My scream was the last thing I remember.

I spent three weeks in the hospital, my mother eight.  My brother had died instantly.

Naturally, my mother blamed herself.  The drinking began after the physical therapy ended, right about the time I ceased to exist to her.

At first my father begged her to stop, tried to make her see a psychiatrist.  But my mother didn't want to heal and move on.  She wanted to wallow in the bottle; Bloody Marys at breakfast, a six pack for lunch and Tom Collins for dinner became our new normal.  Eventually vodka became the numbing agent of choice.

Accepting there was no saving my mother, my father turned his attention to me. Began his project of making me the perfect daughter, the model citizen.

At first, his devotion was exactly what I needed, made up for my mother's Superman-like ability to see through me.  Except for the times she got so plastered she thought I was Benny.  During those times she would hold me and rock me and sing to me.  She'd pet my hair and tell me she loved me and I'd close my eyes and hold on tight, wishing it would never end.

I'm not sure when I started hating being the shining star in my father's dim reality.  In some ways I had become just as invisible to him as I was to my mother.  Somewhere along his Project to Perfection, I had stopped being his daughter and had become his trophy.

My eyes stung with the unwelcome prick of tears.  I tipped the bottle back. The vodka flowed like a river down my throat, collecting the Straight-A Student, the Darling Daughter, the Model Citizen resting on the rocky shore of my life and carrying them downstream along with the tears I wouldn't allow to fall.

I raised the bottle to my lips again and the thought hit me like an unexpected punch to the gut.  My mother drank to numb her pain; I drank to dull my reality.

I lowered the bottle, suddenly hot in my hands.  When had it happened?  When had I become her?

I searched my mind, trying to remember the first time I'd rummaged through my mother's drawer for the bottle I knew I'd find.  Was it sophomore year when I was named Volunteer of the Year?  Was it after Aunt Caroline's third wedding where my father paraded me in front of the family like a peacock whose tail made up the brilliant feathers in his father-of-the-year cap?

I looked at the lake for answers, but it remained still in its response.  I wanted to shout.  Scream a string of profanity.  Every bad word, every awful thing I'd ever heard until there were no more words.  Until my voice grew hoarse.  Until I collapsed from exhaustion. 

Instead, I picked up the bottle and, with all the strength I possessed, chucked it at the lake.  I heard the splash just as the first tear I'd shed in years rolled off my cheek and hit my sweatshirt without a sound. 

4 comments:

  1. Exquisite! I love it. It answered some of my "why"s from the first parts, but not all of them (which is good). And there's a depth to these people--you're not playing with stock characters. I want more! :)

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  2. when are you going to tell us that we will now have to purchase the printed book to find out what happens with these characters? Really, you should consider sending this out to a publishing company...

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  3. Good stuff. Happy that she saw what was happening to her and chucked the bottle.

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  4. VistaVapors is the best electronic cigarettes supplier on the market.

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