Today was the one year anniversary of my mom’s death, and my dad was NOT handling it well. His drinking had gotten worse and worse from the time that mom passed away. Sometimes it’s hard for me to talk to him, for he just looks at me with that deep, empty stare, and I don’t know if it’s because he’s intoxicated or because I look so much like my mother. This is the reason why most of my day is spent in my room, and I’ve learned to accept that being withdrawn earns you loneliness.
It was another day at prison, or as some people like to call “school”, and I was in fourth period math when I was scribbling on my notebook while Mrs. What’s Her Name was yapping about quadratic formulas. “Jade, what answer did you come up with for the equation?” she asked me.
My mind said, “Figure it out yourself,” but my mouth said, “X equals two.” She nodded with a bit of slight enthusiasm, but her eyes were filled with pity as if she knew what my life was really like.
After math was lunch and as I was walking to the cafeteria, some kid (whose name I didn’t know, but probably would if I were somewhat social) says, “Good job on the equation, it really seemed like you were in your own world and I was completely lost.” I look at him for a minute and it occurs to me that he’s waiting for a response, “Oh, ummmm….thanks.” He smiles shyly and walks away. I remain standing there in shock that someone even talked to me and smile to myself.
When I got home, my dad was passed out on the couch (shocker), and I went to my room (even BIGGER shocker). I looked at the one picture of my mom that I have left -- I used to have tons, but my dad stashed them in the attic -- and suddenly longed for her. I faced the fact that I really miss her, and have no shoulder to cry on because Dad’s an alcoholic and not the father he used to be. I have no friends to talk to, let alone best friends to tell secrets to, or share gossip to, or help me have not such miserable days. And I have no mother to tell me everything will be okay or give me advice on how to make them okay. I guess sometimes life just sucks.
When I came home from school the next day, Dad wasn’t asleep on the couch. “He must be at work,” I said to myself. Then I played out how a normal family conversation would go…..
“Hey sweetie, how was school?”
“It was good, I learned stuff.”
“Well that’s good, I guess they’re doing their job, huh?”
“Yup, I guess so.”
“Okay, well I’m going to start dinner. Do you mind setting the table for me?”
“Sure thing Dad….”
I was jerked out of my fantasy when Dad stumbled into the room with a can of beer in his hand.
“Oh, hey Dad,” I said.
“What are you doing here?” he demanded, “you’re supposed to be at school.”
“Ummm….no, I’ve been out for like, fifteen minutes.”
“You’re ditching school, aren’t you?” he slurred.
“No, Dad, I’m not,” I said quietly.
“Don’t lie to me,” and he smacked me. I stood there in shock, saying nothing. He had never laid a hand on me before. I went to my room, shut the door behind me, and locked it. I silently weeped to myself thinking about how life had been when Mom was around. “Mom,” I thought. “Mom.” I thought about what advice Mom would give me. She would say, “In the end, everything will be okay. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end. Sometimes you just need to give the situation a little push so everything is alright.” “Okay, Mom,” I said aloud, “I’m going to make everything okay.”
During the night while Dad was sleeping, I grabbed all of the alcohol I could find and threw it in the dumpster. I cleaned up all the empty beer cans, bottles, and trash off the floor. I stole my Dad’s car keys, and hid them in my room so he couldn’t go anywhere, and locked all the doors to the house. When he came out of his room he looked sober (mostly). “Hey sweetie,” he said. “Dad, we need to talk."
Things haven’t felt this okay in a long time.