I love my mom. I know a lot of people have a bad opinion of her, but they never really knew her for who she was, just what she did. They never saw how much she cared for me, how much she loved me, or how hard she fought every day of her life for me to keep me safe and alive. It’s true that my she did some very bad things in her past, especially when she was younger, but when she had me she put that life aside. Everything she did from that point was to keep us safe from a city that continuously tried to eat us alive, trying us with poverty and fear. But at the end of the day, we always had each other, that was all that seemed to matter. I just wish things had stayed that way.
Life in our city got rough. I can’t say when exactly everything got bad, it just did. Food started getting harder to buy on the salary my mom was making, and there were some days when she had to go without food just so that I could go to bed with a full stomach. It got to the point where my mom had to make the decision to go back to her old job to keep us financially afloat. Looking back on it now, I would have preferred we’d of just starved together peacefully and not had to live in the nightmare that came next.
My mom had to leave at night, every night, and didn’t come back till morning when she had to get ready for her day job. At night we locked up all the doors and boarded all the windows, and then when morning came we took them down again so it wouldn’t look suspicious. We were always on edge, always anxious as if even before anything happened we knew something bad was coming. Then one night everything fell apart.
I remember laying on my bed in the middle of the night, trying to fall asleep to the sound of crickets and car noises right outside my thin apartment walls before almost jumping out of bed when the loud, crashing sound of a window shattering came from my living room. I heard my mom’s yell cut through what has once been the quiet night air. There was a second voice, the loud gruff shouting of a man who was completely unfamiliar to me. Part of me wanted to run and see if my mom was alright, but the part of me that was shaken and terrified took over and I hid under the couch nearby. The shrieks and crashing continued, though it must have been just a short while looking back. In that moment of adrenaline and terror, it felt like an eternity. Finally, there was a scream of terror from the man’s voice and the loud sound of a bang. It started as loud / as before but seemed to suddenly get more distant. It was followed by a sound only comparable to a bomb that seemed to originate from the ground below my apartment. Then everything was back to normal. The sound of cars driving on the streets below continued. The crickets still chirped. There was nothing out of the ordinary. Everything was exactly how it had been before. I remember I stayed under that couch frozen motionless for a long time, before finally, like a zombie, I walked through the hall. My mind was blank, but my legs kept moving.
It was weird and terrifying walking through the familiar and untouched rooms till I got to where everything had happened. Everywhere else in our little apartment was still as it had been with familiar claw marks, stains, and the same pictures of me that had been on the walls for years. Then I stood at the entrance of my living room. It looked like a hurricane had ripped through it.
I think finally my brain started to register what had happened, and in that moment I broke down sobbing. “Mom!” I wailed, frantically looking around the room to see any sign of her. At first, I didn’t see anything, the room was dark and only illuminated by the slight morning light that was starting to pour into our window, broken and no longer covered by wood as it had been just moments ago. Then, I could just make out the silhouette of her, sitting on the couch with head in hands. Her hair was wild, ragged. Her clothes were torn to shreds. She didn’t even look at me, I think she was as trapped in her own head as I had been. Over my own sobs, I could hear her’s that were much fainter, though I think distress helped me pick up on them. I’d never seen my mom cry before, and it scared my even more than the moments prior. I raced over to her, flinging myself on the couch beside her and staring up at her. “Mom! Momma! Are you okay? Are we going to be okay?” I asked, my voice shaking as I tugged at her sleeve, just wanting a reply, some sign of acknowledgment that even though everything around me was destroyed that we were going to make it through just like we always did.
She finally took her face out of her hands, though her hair and the darkness still blocked me from seeing her face. “We’re going to be okay, baby. I promise.” She said, her voice trembling and hushed, but somehow still strong and holding confidence that reassured me enough to believe things really were going to turn out fine.
The next couple hours were a blur. My mom called the police, something she had always told me to do only as a last resort, and started to pack up the things in our house. Everything from our food to our pictures of each other was somehow squeezed into two tiny suitcases. I didn’t really ask what was going on, I think I was too afraid to. Mom gave me a quick explanation of what was happening though, telling me about how a lot of the people she worked for were bad people who would try and make her look like she was a bad person too, and how we needed to call the police so they could make sure those bad people wouldn’t hurt her or me. I remember the thought of anyone coming to hurt us scared me, and I was glad it seemed like we were leaving because I didn’t feel safe in our little apartment anymore. The same halls I’d known since as long as I could remember now felt menacing to me, and I wanted to be gone as fast as possible.
When the police showed up they talked to my mom for a while, and eventually, they helped take us to a hotel that mom told me we would be staying to keep us safe while she and the police figured everything out. At first, I was excited, me and my mom had never stayed in a hotel before, but my mom’s pacing and worrying soon sucked all the joy I had at first from staying there away, and it quickly started to feel like a quiet isolation chamber. A day went by like this. Then another. My mom barely left the room, only to get food and drinks, or to talk to the police that at that point stopped by daily. I stayed in at all times, and the small room felt cramped. I found really little to do all day other than sleep since it felt almost wrong to play given the situation. My mom barely talked other than to reassure me things were okay, even though at this point I knew things weren’t. The entire room seemed to fill with sadness and anxiety, and I quickly wished we were back home where at least I had room to stretch my legs and do things.
Then one night, oh God that night. It had started out so normally, at least for my new world of normal. I laid down, fell asleep, then awoke to a scream that started and abruptly stopped. I lurched up to see the large, shadowy figure of a man stand over my mother. He stared back at me, and I froze in terror. I half expected him to charge at me, but instead, he backed away towards the window, turned, and jumped out. I paused for a second, I’d stopped breathing. Then the realization hit me like a wall of bricks. That scream had been my mom’s. I let out a cry of horror, before racing over to my mom’s bedside and jumping up on the bed to see if she was okay.
Her throat was slit from one ear to the other, a cut so clean that the blood bubbled out of it in a straight line before finally dripping down her neck.
I screamed so loud I think I almost collapsed my lungs.
I shrieked, I bawled, I wailed. I choked on my own tears and breath as I gasped and gagged in a mixture of horror and sadness. She still felt warm, and hope lifted in my chest falsely as I screamed on dead and deaf ears. “Mom! Momma! Please! Oh God please don’t take her away from me! I’m sorry, Mom, please wake up! You can’t leave me, I don’t want to be alone! Please, God, don’t let her die. Please! Please… Why?” I sobbed beside her lifeless body, her blood now covering parts of me which sickened me and distressed me even more. I don’t know who I was bargaining with, if God had taken her from me what use was yelling and promising to be better? But I wanted so badly for her to be alive, be with me. I didn’t understand how she could just be gone so fast, or what I had done to be so awful that I deserved to just be left here alone in this world. But there was nothing I could say, no amount of shaking or wailing was bringing her back. She laid there, glassy and clouded eyes rolled up into her skull and a permanent expression of shock, horror, and pain on her face. She had once told that when eyes rolled up like that in the skull of a dead person they were finally staring at heaven. But that horrified and helpless look on my mom’s face made me wonder for a second if such a thing as heaven could even exist.
I was helpless. I was hopeless. I was useless. I couldn’t save her. The sun started to rise, and I hid under my bed. I didn’t want to see her face looking up at me in horror any longer, I couldn’t stand to feel her skin slowly lose its warmth by the second. All I could do is lay under that unfamiliar and lonely bed, sobbing in despair.
(Alternate/ Continued ending)
It didn't take long for the police to come knocking. I, so frozen in horror and stricken with grief, couldn't find it in me to open the door. Eventually, after incessant banging for what seemed like forever, they busted it down. It started out with there only being two, but once they found mom’s dead body they called in more. Soon, the entire room was filled with cops.
At first, I thought, I hoped, the wouldn't find me. Of course, they did. The man grabbed me roughly by the collar of my neck and ripped me out from under the bed kicking and screaming. He barely looked at me, just stuffed me into a dark cage ignoring and all my pleas to just let me stay and mourn her, to at least just see my mom one last time.
He and his “buddy’ just strolled out of the room, me in my dark, shaking prison in one hand and a briefcase in another. I couldn’t see their faces, but I heard them talking a clear as day.
“It’s a g------ shame that they just killed our best witness for the case, she was the only thing keeping the investigation going,” an older voice spoke.
“Well, you know how the Joker is, He and his cronies are vicious when it comes to things like this. We should have done more to keep her safe.” The second piped up; he was obviously the younger of the two.
“I think I may have underestimated him and overestimated her. Back in my day, she was a one-woman crime spree.”
”I still can’t believe that was really Catwoman, she didn’t seem like a person capable of doing something like that.”
“Heh, kid, you didn’t see her in her prime.”
“Sort of wish I had, though, I heard she was a real menace of the city in her heyday. Makes it even sadder that she died with only two suitcases and a cat to her name.”
(Author’s note; Why so serious? c; )