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Mía and Mama
The lights were so bright. They were glaring into my eyes, momentarily blinding me. I could barely see the faint outline of the detective, pacing back and forth, and shouting in the loud voice that hurt my ears. I sat frigid in the cold, metal chair. My hands rested on a stony table. There were strange splatters of blood on the floor. The detective was angry, trying to get me to talk, but I remained silent. Mama was standing besides me, gently squeezing my hand. She was trying to comfort me, talking in a soft whisper.
“Don’t worry Mía; I won’t let them hurt you. Shh, Niña, everything is going to be alright.” She spoke this over and over again. I trusted Mama with all my heart and truly believed her. My head seemed to be throbbing with pain and I wanted to rest my tired eyes. The detective’s cold shouting and the bright lights made it difficult.
“Lay your head down, Niña, everything will be alright,” Mama could see my pain and she wanted to heal it. She gently laid my on the hard, metal table. It was cold as it looked.
“I’m right here,” Mama assured me. I held her hand tighter, unwilling to let go. I closed my eyes against the fluorescent lights. It was crepuscular inside my head and I was able to drift. Before I fell completely into subconscious, I noticed the shouting had stopped and the room had grown dark. They would try again tomorrow.
My dreams were interrupted by a vigorous shake. I groggily opened my eyes and was confronted by the outline of the detective. He loomed over me like a tower, casting me in darkness. Seeing I had awakened, he began to pace again. The vivid lights glared, down upon my face. It was taking me a while to register where I was. When I tried to concentrate, a dull headache developed above my left eye.
Finally, the memories from yesterday’s events seemed to come flooding back. I was panic-stricken for a moment. Mama wasn’t here with me. My breath seemed to stop as I looked around anxiously. But then she abruptly appeared by my side, interlacing our fingers.
“I’m here, Mía, don’t worry,” She reassured me. Tears had already begun to spring from my eyes as I tried to regain my composition. I was enraged that she left me for even a few moments. Mama could see it in my eyes and she instantaneously started to comfort me.
“I will never leave you again, Mía, never,” She promised. Her gentle hands wiped my tears away. I buried my head against her.
“You need to wash now, Niña,” Mama insisted. I looked down at my soiled hands. They were covered in cuts and scratches. The blood had long since dried, turning flakey. I briefly remembered warm, sticky blood dripping in pools besides me. The memory seemed ineffably strange, for I don’t remember getting hurt. It had to be somebody else’s blood, only I didn’t know whose. I looked expectantly at Mama. She was pointing to the detective. He was leaning against the wall, fixated on our every move.
“May I wash now?” I asked him. The detective, looking very surprised, left the room. I looked over to Mama, who simply smiled. A brief instant later, he arrived with a female cop.
“We are getting some process here,” The detective declared. He gripped my shoulder and forced me to stand. Then he clasped my hands together and cuffed them. I panicked for a moment as my hand was ripped away from Mama’s but she was there, her hand resting on my shoulder.
“This is Officer Tory,” the detective introduced us. Officer Tory flashed an abrupt smile my way but she looked uneasy. Office Tory led me down a dreary hallway at a brisk pace. There were no windows and a bleak shadow seemed to settle on everything. The washing room was colorless, a single bulb hung from the ceiling, the curious yellow glow more like the product of a gas flame than the luminescence of an incandescent electric light bulb. Shower heads lined the back wall. Officer Tory un-cuffed me and I undressed swiftly. I stood under a showerhead and felt the cold rush of water pour over me. I watched as the blood washed off of my skin and disappeared into the drain. Officer Tory restlessly paced the room, always keeping a watchful eye. Mama was sitting cross-legged by the door, her head leaning against the callous wall.
After all the blood was scrubbed from my skin, I dried off with the towel Officer Tory gave me. I was then dressed in a modest white jumpsuit. Officer Tory nervously helped me. She then got out the handcuffs but in her haste, she dropped them.
“Don’t move,” She warned me. In her skittish attempt to grab the handcuffs a thought occurred to me. She seemed afraid of me, in some peculiar, misleading way. Without a moment’s hesitation, I grabbed Mama’s hand, and ran out into the murky hallway.
“Stop! Stop!” Officer Tory shriek from behind me. “Prisoner escaping! Stop!” I could hear her heavy footsteps behind me as I sprinted down the hall.
“Mía, run faster,” Mama cried out. Out of breath, my pace was faltering. Behind me, Officer Tory’s boisterous shouting continued. Up ahead, a door appeared. I only had to reach it. Suddenly, an ear-splitting bang echoed off the walls. Pain seared through my shoulder and I collapsed on the ground.
“Mía! Mía!” Mama wailed, trying to stop the waterfall of blood coming out of my shoulder. I could hear voices coming down the hall of people shouting. Officer Tory ran up to me, a look of terror filled her face. In her shaking hands, she held a gun.
“Don’t leave me,” I whispered to Mama.
“I won’t Niña,” Mama cried, tears running down her face. I slipped into Mama’s arms and everything became silent.
The loud clamorous beeping of a monitor broke into my thoughts. I awoke with a start. I was bounded by metal chains, biting into my skin. I struggled against the bonds but they wouldn’t budge. From my shoulder elicited an agonizing pain.
“Help me!” I pleaded with no one in particular. My struggles were only leaving me exhausted. I began to scream. I screamed until my throat was parched and withered.
“Shh, Mía, it’s alright.” Mama comforted me, her cool hands pressing against my burning forehead. Her calmness put me at ease and all my animosity and anger toward the world seemed to float out of me. An eerie peacefulness settled over my chest.
“You see, Niña? It’s all better now.” Mama smiled down at me.
“How long have I been sleeping?” I murmured.
“Not long at all,” She beamed. I smiled weakly back.
“Want to hear a story, Niña?” Mama whispered. I nodded feebly.
“Once upon a time, in a place called Cósala, México, there lived a happy family. This family had a happy Papa, a happy Mama, and an exceptionally happy Niña,” Mama whispered. “But then, an accident occurred.”
“What kind of accident,” I asked. Mama put a finger to her lip, indicating silence.
“This accident impacted the family hard. The once happy family became cheerless and bitter. These horrible feelings only grew until the somber Papa left, leaving behind a heartbroken family.” Mama’s eyes became pained. “The Mama’s heart was awfully sick.” She softly pronounced.
“How does it end?” I inquired.
“That was the end.” Mama insisted.
“That wasn’t a very good story,” I told her. Mama just smiled sadly. “Am I happy?” I asked her suddenly.
“Of course you are, Niña,” Mama assured me. I thought for a moment.
“I don’t feel happy,” I announced. I detected an abrupt look of outrage pass through Mama’s eyes. It was so brisk, I was unsure it had been there.
“You couldn’t have been happier, Mía,” She firmly told me. She was smiling again and I believed her.
I was escorted back into the glistening, bright room. I was released from my bonds but my hands were cuffed as an extra precaution. The detective was there, imitating his normal stance of pacing back and forth. I was again seated in the chilled, metal chair.
“Are you willing to cooperate?” The detective asked. He leaned against the wall, his hard gaze trained on me. Ignoring him, I was occupied with my handcuffs, determined to break free. He glowered at me.
“Do you remember why you are here?” He interrogated. I couldn’t remember. All I remembered were the pools of blood. I didn’t say anything.
“It’s not your fault, you know,” The detective was saying, “It was in self defense.” I remained silent, although I desperately wanted to ask him about the blood.
“I’m tired,” I unexpectedly told him. He was flabbergasted by my outburst.
“Mía, what are you saying?” Mama asked, her nails dug into my shoulder, eliciting a wince from me.
“But you’ve been sleeping for days,” the detective inquired.
“Tired in my soul,” I said, holding my cuffed hands to my chest.
“What does this tiredness feel like?” The detective asked quickly. He was closer now, his hands pressed down on the table.
“I need to know something,” I said. The detective nodded. “Whose blood was it?” The detective’s expression was pained.
“So you don’t remember?” He inquired. I shook my head.
“Mía, Mía,” I could hear Mama’s voice, but it seemed like it was coming from the back of my mind. I could feel her nails digging into my arm but I had grown numb to the pain.
“Do you remember about the accident?” The detective asked. Again, I shook my head.
“Niña, don’t listen,” Mama begged. It seemed her voice was drifting farther and farther away.
“A couple years back, you were in a car accident, down where you lived in Mexico.” The detective explained. “It was bad. You and your mom were treated for very serious head injuries. You were diagnosed with minor anterior grade amnesia.”
“What does that mean?” I asked him weakly.
“You’ve suffered memory loss.” He explained, “Except yours is very curious. You seemed to forget things but remember them later.” I tried to think back to the past. I couldn’t remember anything outside of these walls.
“And your mom, she suffered from a cranial-cerebral injury. After the accident she never was the same.”
“Shh, Niña, I am the same Mama,” Mama whispered. The detective seemed unaware of Mama talking into my other ear.
“You don’t remember the foster homes?” The detective asked.
“I lived with Mama, always,” I exclaimed.
“Child services took you away almost a year ago.” The detective insisted. I didn’t believe him. I struggled to cover my ears against his awful lies, my handcuffs proving it difficult.
“Your mom struck you after the accident. When they took you away you were covered in bruises,” he went on.
“Mama would never!” I burst out.
“You would forget about it but then she kept doing it. You’re bound to remember one time at least,” The detective said. I shook my head forcefully.
“Mama, you would never, you would never,” I repeated myself.
“Of course not Mía,” Mama said softly.
“But then one day, she decided to use something sharper than her fists,” The detective announced, “She had a knife.”
“Mama, you would never,” I said. Mama nodded, tears running down her face.
“She tried to kill you,” The detective indicated soberly.
“Niña, I would never!” Mama exclaimed.
“I know, Mama, I know,” I assured her.
“You wanted to know about the blood?” The detective asked, “It’s your mom’s. You overpowered her and killed her in self defense.”
“Stop it!” I shouted, “Mama’s right here, right next to me.”
“Of course I am, Mía, of course I am.” Mama pronounced.
“You’ve also been having delusions,” The detective explained.
“Mama’s here,” I was crying now.
“No, she’s dead.” The detective firmly declared. I was bawling. Mama wasn’t dead. She was here. Then a sudden memory came to mind. I could see the bruises that covered my body. Some were so bad I couldn’t walk for days. I missed a lot of school. That was when they went to investigate. I remembered strangers coming to take me away. I struggled against them. I wanted to be in Mama’s arms. They wouldn’t let me go near her. Then another memory flashed through my mind. Mama was holding a knife. She was running towards me, and I held out my hands to stop her. I remembered a lot of blood, Mama on the ground, and I was getting taken away.
“Mama’s here,” I whispered, not wanting to believe it.
“You’ve been in this psyche ward for almost two weeks. For two weeks you’ve done nothing but sit in that chair and talk to the air,” the detective said. I suddenly remembered the accident, the first time Mama beat me when Papa left.
“We can provide you with help.” The detective explained, “Therapists, psychological training, the whole bit.” I remembered Mama grabbing my head and smashing into against the wall. The next day when I woke up, all I remembered was the pounding headache.
“If you don’t get help now, you might hurt yourself. This hallucination of your mom might kill you.” The detective warned. I remembered waking up covered in bruises thinking I had tripped. I ran to Mama for help every time.
“Tomorrow, we are moving you into the East Ward. This will help with the hallucinations.” The detective said. All those times when I had gone to Mama for help when she was the one who harmed me.
“Accepting the hallucinations, making promises to them, or agreeing to never leave their side, can lead them to be permanent. Even medicine won’t help.” The detective was saying. I was crying.
“Whatever you do, don’t make promises or don’t make this hallucination promise you anything, it can lead to permanent stay and eventually suicide, in most cases,” The detective warned, “Tomorrow, as soon as the pharmacy is open, we can prescribe you medication that will help you. Just for tonight you have to block out the hallucinations. Your mom isn’t real. You have to remember, Mia. Your life depends on it.”
I was lead to a dark, windowless room to sleep in for the night. The hard mattress felt like stone beneath my back. I closed my eyes and slept.
The next morning I woke.
“Mama, I’m scared,” I whispered through the dark. The room I was in had no windows and it chilled. Immediately, I felt Mama’s comforting hand interlace with mine.
“Don’t be afraid, Mía, you’re safe,” She comforted me. Although I couldn’t see her, I felt her presence.
“Promise?” I asked.
“Always,” She whispered, and I could hear her grin spreading across her face.