Momma

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Standing on the porch, I pushed my fine red-blonde hair behind my ears and unlocked the front door with my free hand. As usual, I entered silently, allowing only a single streak of the cool Alabama moonlight to flood in through the screen door.

Just as I headed for my bedroom, arms shaking with the weight of my textbooks and a pile of wrinkled school clothes, a weak mumble escaped Momma’s bedroom. The desperate beckoning intensified as she moved closer.

“Jamie, doll, is thatchu? Where you been, girl?”

“School, Momma. And work. Like always.”

She didn’t notice my sagging violet polo shirt or the taunting silver name tag I displayed on my chest with the most insincere pride. She didn’t recall that I was known all over town as the Tuscaloosa Taco Queen, and she didn’t realize that I might as well have been using beef-scented shampoo for the last year and a half. Her swollen cheeks, lazily drifting eyes, and saliva-tainted chin suggested that she had just awakened from another drunken stupor.

“I brotchyu somethin‘, Momma.”

I placed my immense pile of belongings on the couch, sorted through some clothes, and found a small plastic sack with the familiar yellow bell printed on the side. We sat down at the small metal kitchen table, and I passed her a cup of beans and a plastic fork from the bag while I gnawed on stale, unsalted tortilla chips. Ever since Daddy died and Momma started spending all her savings on liquor, we’d been living on the leftover food I managed to swipe from work, but I knew that couldn’t last much longer. I couldn’t live on leftovers for the rest of my life.

The rest of my life…Sometimes I forgot I had my own life. I couldn’t keep spending it like this. Why was I even here? This person wasn’t my mother anymore. Why did I worry so much about taking care of her? Would it really be the worst idea to just leave? To drive away and not come back, to be free and laugh and smile like seventeen-year-olds should? Was it fair that I should stay here and waste my life looking after a hopeless stranger?

I looked up to see her ravaging her meager dinner, chunks of refried beans crawling off her chin and plopping onto the cold hard table. But behind the crumbled pieces of a person, I saw the strong caring mother from my childhood. Instead of the greasy yellow strings falling around her bony face, I saw healthy golden curls surrounding an inviting smile. In her faded desperate eyes I saw a lighthouse radiating confidence and love.

Without realizing it, I smiled for the first time in two years.

“Good beans, Jamie. You done real good tonight.”

“Thanks, Momma.”





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timevampire This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 20, 2010 at 11:15 am

This was amazing I really like this. You are so good at writing. I never got bored it held me till the end and at first I didn't think it would end happy but you did. Beautiful.

Please keep writing and maybe you can read my stuff some time? :)

 
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