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Today is my birthday. The big one-six. My sweet sixteen, but I am too smart for all of the misconceptions and grandeur of this “special” day. I walked into the small kitchen of the even smaller apartment that my mother and I shared.
“Are you excited for your party?” She asked, trying to fake the cheeriness that she thought I deserved on “my special day”. She was nursing her usual morning combo of coffee and tequila. It hasn’t even been a day since she got back from rehab and she is already back to her old ways.
“I guess.” I mumbled as I grabbed a banana out of the basket on the counter. I couldn’t even look at her without feeling utterly disgusted. She detected the venom and spite rolled in my words but she only sighed and let me stalk out of the kitchen.
My mom was never a drinker, but that all changed the day my dad left. She picked up the bottle for the first time on that night four years ago. She hasn’t put those bottles down since.
Multiple times my mom showed up at work so drunk that she could not put an intelligent sentence together. Last March was the last time she had a steady job.
We had to sell our house and I had to go to public school. I now do a work study at my local public high school to be able to keep up with the bills and put food on the table.
When I switched schools I lost all contact with my friends. I became depressed and did not even make an effort to make friends or be a friend. I began to cut. It was the only way for me to feel.
As the hours ticked down until my party I was not giddy or nervous like any other girl waiting for her guests to arrive to her party. I did not have any friends to help me get ready, or friends to even care that I was getting ready for my “party”.
I pulled on a not so new party dress and half heartedly did something to my hair. I did not even bother to fix my makeup. I quickly went into my bathroom for a quick pick-me-up. I was careful not to stain my dress because that would trigger questions from my mother. I quickly packed some baking soda into my fresh cut. I was ready to go and able to face anything that laid ahead.
There was fifteen minutes until my “guests” were to arrive so I decided to brave the oooos and ahhhhhs of my mother. As I came down the stairs I saw my mother up on a rickety old ladder trying to decorate the living room. Cray paper was sloppily draped across the walls. She heard me come down the stairs and came down off the ladder and sheepishly smiled at me. I returned the smile half heartedly.
I did not have any friends so why even bother. Why even bother to have a party? Why spend ten dollars on crappy cray paper and two bags of chips surly to be gone before the party started?
“Ten minutes until your party.” She said.
“Are you excited?”
“I’m so excited I can barely contain myself.” I told her rolling my eyes.
“You ungrateful little witch. I did all of this for you! You can’t even be happy for one day!” My mother screamed at me.
“I didn’t ask for any of it! I can’t be happy? How about you? Covering up all of your misery and grief with alcohol.” I yelled back matching her. Before I knew it I was watching her hand swing back and collide with the skin of my face. I doubled over and fell to the ground.
“Oh, my god! I’m so sorry honey!” She whispered as she sank to the ground next to me. She tried to comfort me but I pushed her away.
“You think you are trying to do good by throwing me this pathetic excuse of a party. In reality all your doing is rubbing it in even more than any normal day, as I walk the halls at school. I see everybody chatting with their friends. One person since I transferred schools has ever cared, my lab partner. He has been my savior.”
“What?” She asked, truly caring.
“You’ve only made it more blatantly obvious that I don’t have any friends. Nobody cares about me!”
“What about that lab partner that you were blabbering on about?”
“Henry? He’s just my lab partner. Nothing more, noting less. He’s been a shoulder for me to lean on and an ear to listen.” In reality he was more than that. I love Henry more than my mother or Henry would ever know.
“I see.” She said dismissively.
It was seven o’clock, the time for my “guests” to arrive. The clock ticked on. It was 11:30, the time for my “guests” to leave. Nobody showed.
My mother is a recovering alcoholic, she did what all fifth trip to rehabers did. She went into the kitchen to find something to ease her nerves. A few moments later I heard the cupboards open and glass bottles clinking together. A minute later she appeared with a bottle of liquor in hand. She slumped into the lazy chair by the TV and got to work on her new bottle of gin. You can guess how she spent the rest of the evening. My “sweet” sixteen, wasn’t so sweet.
I went back up to my room and stripped my dress off. I pulled my PJs on and went into my bathroom. I picked up the sharpest razor I could find. Instead of my usual horizontal cuts I went for a vertical cut. I wanted all of it to be over so badly.
I felt the warm liquid leaking out of my arm and slumped down onto the floor. While I was laying on the floor I heard the door open and shut. I wondered who it was. I heard footsteps coming up the stairs and turn into my room.
“Lila? Are you in here?” It was Henry. He came closer to the door of the bathroom and saw me laying on the floor. He rushed over and cradled me in his arms.
“I got caught up at my sister’s graduation party. I figured I’d come to say goodnight.” He said while reaching for the baking soda sitting on my counter. He packed half of the box onto my arm and grabbed the nearest towel and put as much pressure as he could muster on my arm.
“Thank you.” I said. He stood up and then picked me up and began to carry me out of my room.
“Lila, I know this probably won’t even help but I love you more than you could ever imagine.” We were to the front door of my house and on the way out. My “mother” didn’t even notice that I was bleeding or that Henry was carrying me out of the house.
“I love you too.”