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Under the Willows
"Mom! I love you! Don't die on me! You can't leave me! I've only known you for so long. I'm not ready for you to be gone, yet! Please, Mom! Stay with me!" I cried, shaking her.
I had few resources and even fewer experience. There wasn't much I could do without destroying either of my parents, so I did what I could with what little knowledge a fifteen-year-old had of medical expertise.
I ran upstairs to get an eyebrow plucker. When I came back down, I removed the larger shards of glass in my mother's feet. With the eyebrow plucker, I picked out the smaller pieces carefully. My mother seemed unconscious, so I didn't need to worry about her feeling pain all too much at the moment. She just needed to live.
I grabbed a pan of water and a cup. I gently placed her feet in the pan and poured water from the cup over top, cleaning the wound.
Heading upstairs, I went to find the first aid kit. Hopefully, the gauze had not run out from my mother's careless use of it for removing nail polish. I immediately returned to tending my mother after scavenging as much gauze as I could. I squeezed a bit of antibiotic cream onto the cuts in her feet and pressed the gauze gingerly against the wounds and applied gentle pressure. Then, I wrapped her feet carefully and tight enough to keep it together.
Now, all I could do was wait for the cut to clot, for my mother to regain consciousness, and wonder where the hell my father was.
“Mom, speak to me…” I said breathlessly. She remained still. I kept hoping and praying that my mother was okay. I probably looked so pathetic on my knees like that, praying like a little kid begging for candy, but I was willing to do anything to keep my mother alive.
“I love you,” my mother said, ever so lightly. I began to cry, but I cried happily this time.
“I love you too, Mom.” I smiled and bent over to hug her. It seems strange, but I believed the willows had saved her. They were the reason I had come downstairs in the first place. I looked out the window again, staring off to where the proud trees stood. “Thank you,” I whispered.
After a few minutes of hugging, my father walked into the kitchen.
“Eilene! Get your a** off the floor and make me a sandwich,” He said, sounding extremely drunk. Drunk or not, I was not going to let him talk to Mother that way.
“You,” I said, pointing at him, “You go make yourself a sandwich. And then leave.” I said, as calmly as possible. He was still drunk, and probably still violent.
“You shut your a** up! I didn’t ask you! This is my house!” He yelled. I backed away, but kept staring.
“You did this to Mom, and you think I’m going to let you get away with it?” I yelled back. “You’re drunk, Dad! Get over yourself!” And with that, he left the room. I sighed; it never felt right, talking to my father like that. I had to, though, to keep this family together. But in many ways, it only tore us apart even more.
I closed my eyes, took deep breaths and looked at my mother. She had tears in her eyes.
"Thank you, Hope. You love me a lot more than I realize, a lot more than I appreciate," she hugged me again, "I can only hope to love you as much as you love me."
With that, I stood up and helped my mother up to her feet. Slightly flinching, my mother smiled and grabbed a broom and dustpan. I did so, too.
And together, we cleaned up the muddle, one room at a time, mopping up the blood, gathering the glass and straightening the furniture.
The next week passed by uneventfully, without much talk from anyone. Grace, my younger sister, was still away at camp, and my puppy, Mikal, was at an overnight obedience school, so I was pretty lonely. I decided a trip to the willows was in order.
Walking barefoot in the dewy grass, I made my way back to the old, swaying willows, the willows I knew so well. There was a pair of them, at the edge of the yard that stood tall over the property. I had always admired them, even before I started coming to them for refuge. The way their leafy vines hung down had always been so calming, so assured. These truly were my willows.
Waking up, dazed, I realized I had fallen asleep in the arms of my willows and that it was getting dark. Bright light stretched across the scarlet red sky in a single direction. It was dusk and the warmth comforted me. I decided to head back into the house. I shampooed my wavy shoulder-length hair, washed my body and dressed myself in an orange crewneck T-Shirt and some grey cotton shorts. Combing my hair, I watched my reflection in the cloudy mirror, thinking of how much my life had changed in the last few days due to my boldness. I put my hair in a bun and brushed my teeth. I walked into my bedroom, kneeled at my bed and prayed for a good day the next day. I got up, rearranged my pillows to my liking, and pulled the covers up to my neck, the end of a rare, peaceful day.