Dead End

May 22, 2017

My daddy was the type of man who'd accidentally drop a lit cigarette on a rainy day and pick it up and put it right back in his mouth. Now, my mother, she was the type of women who would yell at my daddy for that and everything else.
"It's men like you who go off ruinin' this land, throwin' their cigarette buds here and there, hardly botherin' to pick up once ya finished with 'em. And don't you kiss me with that mouth," She'd grunt.
We lived at the end of a dead end street and I held my breath when I saw headlights through the blinds at night. I was always scared someone would run right into the old house and it'd catch fire. We'd all be dead, too. My daddy too drunk to find the door, my mother too attached to the four walls, and well, I coulda' made it out if it had really had happened. I just don't think I woulda' wanted to.
We lived on the same street as the "bluegums, ragheads, and aliens," as my daddy would call 'em but I never knew what he meant until I was older. Everyone sat on their porches with their bongs and beer bottles laying in their yard, dusted away in their own smoke clouds. In this part of this town, if you weren't high or drunk, you must'a been visitin' and you packed your bags and stepped on the gas once you realized how bad it was. It was the ghetto; ain't not one of us had door screens, curtains, or anything, except drugs and bedbugs.
When I had turned 18, I joined the Navy, mostly to get away from my mother and my daddy. They were signing the papers, filing for their third divorce. I didn't feel like sticking 'round for another one of them weddings. My mother wrote me, but never my daddy. She'd say this and that about givin' up drugs and going to church. But I knew there was no way my hippie mother was giving up grass.
After a while, she stopped sending me her letters. Then continued again after a year, asking if I was alive. She'd be tellin' me how Daddy got remarried with some other woman, how she really did give up blunts and joined the church down the street, and she begged for me home 'cause her cancer was back. Still, I didn't write her. I didn't come home. Not until I was pregnant.
When I was discharged from the Navy, I had a diamond ring and a big old baby bump extending out so far I couldn't see my toes. I didn't plan on seeing my mother again, but I wanted more than anything to see my old man. I missed my daddy. The only way I was getting his address was through my mother so I went on home to the dead end street.
I didn't tell no one I was comin', I just showed up. everything had changed and I was certain my mother moved by the looks of it. The house had a door screen, fixed blinds, curtains, the whole house was repainted a light blue, and there was even a pool in the backyard so big you could see it from the driveway. But then I saw the mailbox and I knew she hadn't moved. The mailbox was right next to the fixed porch; my daddy made it for her when they first moved in. It was wooden and had "Sam" painted in purple with a heart next to it. It was old but untouched, decayed from the rain and whatever else. But as much as it was falling apart, I knew my mother would've taken it with her if she had gone.
When I knocked on the door and my mother opened the door, I swear on everything I got, my heart stopped. Her long, thick black hair was gone. She was completely bald. Both breasts were gone, too. Her face looked ten years older, her eyes were droopy, her natural face expression had retired to a frown, and her complexion faded to a pale purple with sunspots.
She looked at me and without saying a single word, walked away, but she didn't close the door on me. I came and walked in the living room. The carpet was white, the walls beige, and the furniture black. Everything was new, especially the shrine dedicated to me in the right corner by a mirrored wall.
"I thought you died," My mother said from the kitchen, crying. "Ya never wrote me back. Two years it’s been and I didn't get one letter from you writing your momma back. We gone and had your funeral. We all thought you had died." I rolled my eyes while looking in the mirrored wall.
            "If I had died, officers- decorated officers- would'a come and told you."
            "Well," she sniffled, "I forgive you." She came running into the living room with her arms out to hug me. I didn't wrap my arms around her but I noticed she no longer smelled like weed; she smelled clean. Actually, the whole house smelled clean and kind of like she had been making dinner for someone.
            I imagined myself little again, eight or nine, walking through the door, just getting home from school right as the sun was goin' down. I was greeted by the usual stench of alcohol, grease, and weed mixed with my daddy's favorite dinner: turkey and mashed potatoes. Which meant only one thing: he was back. I ran into the kitchen and hugged him real tight. His kissed my forehead while one hand held his cigarette and the other held his beer bottle. "Hey, sweetpea." And I'd tell him, "Daddy, I missed you. Please don't leave me, again." And I looked up at my mother and she'd hold up her left hand and I could breathe again when the wedding ring was back on her finger.
            Ten years later after their third divorce, I walked in on that same smell and I grabbed her hand resting on my back and there it was: the little diamond ring back on.
            "Daddy?" I called out, pushing my mother off me.
            "Now, I already told ya' in those letters I wrote ya', that father of yours don't be stayin' here no more. Don't you be calling out for him here," she tried to say with a smile on her face.
            I walked into the kitchen; on the table was two plates of turkey and mashed potatoes.
"Who's the other plate for, then?" I asked her.
            "You, I be supposin'."
            We sat down at the opposite sides of the table and I ate that food like I hadn't eaten in months. My mother, however, she stuck her fork in her potatoes and spun in around a few times and that was all. "What is it?" I asked, not really wanting to know but asking anyhow 'cause I knew she'd be telling me eventually.
            "The Lord sure does work in mysterious ways," she sighed.
            "I'm not here for one of ya' new preaching’s. Save it for Sunday," I sighed back.
She faked a laugh, “I ain't preaching, I'm just saying I'm not getting what His plan is for, but I trust in Him."
            "What ya' mean?" I wanted so bad to argue with her about God and her calling to him, but I didn't have time for none of that, nor the energy.
            "I thought you was dead, your daddy left me for some other women, and my cancer ain't going away even after both my breasts been removed." She started crying, again.
            "Why you still wearin' that ring and makin’ his dinner if he's really gone?" I asked her.
            "I think maybe it'll make him come on home to me."
            I helped my mother wash the dishes and I tucked her into bed that night, left with my daddy's address soon after. Daddy's house was only a few blocks over. The house looked more like the house I remember living in: old, no screen door, no curtains, no garage, one story. I parked in the drive way behind my daddy's pickup. When I knocked on the door, I waited a good five minutes, listening to the footsteps inside. Finally, my daddy and his grey stubbled face and a cloud of smoke opened the door and said, "No solicitors." Then, he shut the door. Shocked, I knocked again and didn't stop until a women cracked the door open just enough to poke her head through. She was short and probably in her late 30's. Her eyes were bloodshot and she stood up like she was on a ship, slightly swaying left and right. She was real pretty though, freckled face, short blonde hair, big blue eyes.
            She stared at my belly for a long time and I stared at her staring at me until she said, "I got a similar condition," she said opening the door far enough to show me her belly.
            "Jesus," I gasped. I don't know why it surprised me that my daddy got this poor girl pregnant and she was so high she didn't even know it. Now, I don't believe in no gods but trust me, I said a quick prayer for that baby inside her. I didn't have the energy to explain to her that there was a human in her growing, she'd find out soon enough.
             "I wanna see my daddy," I told her. She looked at me, confused and then called out, "Nelsin," and he came back to the door, almost tripping on his feet.
            "Is she deaf? I just told her to get on outta' here," Daddy said to the women, talking right in front of me like I wasn't even there.
            "Daddy, it's me." I said to him. He jumped out of his skin for a minute and squinted his eyes at me and shook his head no.
            "My daughter's dead," he said, pointing his finger at me. "Her funeral was last year, and I didn't go or nothing but I'd know she was still alive."
            A tear rolled down my face and off my nose. "You thought I'd died and didn't even bother coming to my funeral?"
            "Sweetpea, I just told ya', my daughter is dead," he said.
I looked around, there was a slight breeze and the trees were walking in slow motion. Time, itself, was in slow motion for just a moment. I just kept on looking 'round, like I was trying to find a way out. I felt like I was dreaming.
            "Daddy, I ain't dead!" I yelled, turning back to him. But he was gone and the door was closed.
            I didn't ever go see my daddy again until he was put in jail for drunk driving into a house at the end of a dead end street. Only visited him once every couple months, but I never told him who I was to see if he'd ever remember. He didn't.
I hated my mother when I was growing up, thought everything bad was 'cause of her. I blamed my daddy leaving us and forgetting me on her. That day I came back from the Navy, everything had changed in my mind. I loved my mother and I was proud of her for cleaning herself up. I didn't hate my daddy, but I sure didn't love him no more.
Mother died a couple weeks after from the cancer eating at her; sometimes I go to that church down the street in hopes to feel her there. Jason and I got married and divorced all in the same year our baby girl Juley was born. When Jason returned from the Navy, all he ever did was stay out late and come home drunk, so I left the divorce papers on the table and me and Juley kept on by our lonesome until we found ourselves a white house with a green porch light, surrounded by Oak trees.
All of which was in the middle of the street with no clear end.

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