La-Z Boy

March 22, 2011
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Gavin sat on the doorstep of his house alone. He ignored the kids riding past on bikes. He ignored the sun dipping down below the roofs of the houses along the other side of the street. He ignored his neighbor taking out yard waste, and accidentally ripping a hole in the bag. It was not the fact that Gavin was ignoring these insignificant occurrences that made this situation peculiar. What was abnormal about this moment, is that Gavin found himself fixated on his shoes. They were old running shoes of his dad’s, ripped up from months of training for marathon’s. This did not bother Gavin because he had no athletic intentions. What bothered Gavin was how only a few month’s ago those shoes would not have fit. Staring at his shoes Gavin thought back many years...
“You can’t make me do anything” Gavin insisted stomping his white velcro sneakers on the tiled kitchen floor.
“I’m your mother Gavin, when I tell you to make your bed you will make your bed.” She did not raise her tone although she knew Gavin was right. Even a six year old has free will. This was her most haunting fear.
“I’m not gonna.” Gavin stated, crossing his arms. His eyebrows were so angled in frustration that he had to tilt his head forward to see in front of him.
“I’m gonna go, and you can’t stop me.”
“Fine,” his mother lied. Gavin stomped towards the door. He opened the door and looked back at his mother with the most bitter expression he could muster. His mother pretended to ignore this expression as Gavin slammed the door shut. His mother waited for a moment, making sure Gavin had gone, and then without hesitation grabbed the black plastic phone from the wall behind her and called the phone number of Harry, Gavin’s friend across the street. “Hi Elissa, Gavin just ran away, when he shows up at your house send him back please.”
“Of course, Maureen.” “Thanks.”
“Uh-huh, bye.” His mother turned on the television and half-watched some game show. After fifteen minutes of waiting his mother, called Elissa back. The mother said that neither Harry nor her had seen Gavin. Worriedly, Maureen went to the door preparing to search the block for her son. To her surprise, as she opened the door, she saw Gavin sitting on the doorstep, staring at his shoes.
“What?” he replied without turning his head to address her.
“You need to go and make your bed.” at this point Gavin turned to face her. He had tears streaming down his face. He hugged his mom as tightly as he could. “I’ll never run away again, okay mom?”


Just as Gavin thought of that moment, the door behind him opened. His mother walked out and sat beside him on the doorstep. Neither of them looked at each other and instead focused their vision on the horizon.
“Gavin?” Maureen said softly. There was silence.
She sat beside him doorstep and hesitated a moment, choosing her words carefully.
“Right after you were born, your father and I moved into this house.” she stopped speaking again, seeing if she had garnered a reaction from her son.
“I had been working at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center for teens and had just gotten my degree in education and my first job as a teacher. Your father was still in law school. We didn’t have much money. I wanted so much to stay at home with you but I needed to work so I had to drop you off everyday at day care. That was the worst. At this same time, your uncle Larry had gone through rehab for a fifth time and was trying to get back on his feet again. He didn’t have a job or a home so we let him sleep in the basement while he looked for employment. Every morning, I would go down to check on him and he’d be staring at the TV set in the dark.” Gavin imagined his uncle, a man he hardly knew slumped out on the ratty La-Z-Boy they kept in the Basement, a product of a flea market for sure. He had only met his Uncle, ten years senior to his mother, at an occasional Christmas. He had heard stories from Maureen’s childhood involving Larry but he had been in and out of rehab since Maureen’s sophomore year of High School, so he was always a distant at best.
“After checking on Larry, I would drop you off at day care. After work I would rush as quickly as I could to pick you up. We would get home and when I checked on Larry he wouldn’t have moved. He wouldn’t come upstairs so I would bring him food for breakfast and dinner. He never said thank you. He hardly said anything. This continued for two months until I couldn’t put up with it any more. All the laziness; his inability to get a job. I kicked him out. He hasn’t relapsed since then so I felt pretty good about my decision until two christmases ago.”
Gavin remembered that Christmas, lots of family showed up with the exception of Uncle Larry. “I called him to wish him a Merry Christmas and...” she laughed, “he apologized. He apologized for not doing anything all day for so many days, because. Because he told me...” Maureen began rubbing her eyes. “ He told me that it took him all the energy he had to not kill himself because he didn’t want me to find him there. Sitting on the La-Z-Boy.” Maureen bursted into uncontrollable sobbing. Uncomfortably, Gavin looked at his mother. Gavin became overcome with emotion and also began to cry.
“I promise, I’ll never think about it again okay mom.” He knew that as upsetting as her brothers situation was, it was not the reason she wept. Maureen had found Gavin’s suicide note underneath his pillow that afternoon.
“I promise.”

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