My Mama is dead. I remember years ago when we sat on an oven of a beach with a blanket of sand to cover our sorrows. I missed my Daddy. The cool waves brushed against my little sister’s feet as we slowly sunk into the ocean. It was up to my waist then. I wished mama would stop. I was a nine year old girl with a dream of becoming a sailor. Some say dreams fade, but mine didn’t. My room was purple with pink stripes and I had brown and white stuffed kitty my Daddy gave me before he died. The only stuffed animal we could afford. We were doing the best we could, up until that day.
I pulled on my pink and blue socks and a pair of brown school loafers. I trudged down the stairs and see my mama. She was sitting in her ugly grey armchair with a cup of coffee from the day before beside her. She’s gawking blankly at the television again. She was doing that the previous day too.
“Mama?” I said sadly and concerned.
My mama just looked through me.
“Where is Alyssah?”
Alyssah is usually up by now with her golden curls and beaming smile. My mama was mute. I told her goodbye and strolled out the door.
“She’s probably just sleeping in,” I said to myself.
But my lurching stomach didn’t make me feel any better.
I caught up to my best friend Tabby. She was a tall lanky girl who loved me for who I was, but sometimes she was just a tad too rude for me to handle. Sometimes I wished she would just float away like a dandelion in a meadow or a .90 cent balloon that mama bought for Allysah (even though she couldn’t hold onto squat.)
“Aleila Joe, you know we have a test today? Do you?” She said annoyingly.
All of my friends think I can’t tell a bike from a car, and it makes my head boil. Steam must’ve been coming out of my ears then because she asked me what was wrong, of course. I replied mildly apoplectic “nothing,” and she went on and on talking about herself.
At breakfast I decided to call home. I can’t remember why, maybe because I felt ill or disheartened from what happened with Tabby, and of course my mother didn’t pick up our house phone. All I know is that I ended up in Mrs. Earlen’s (the principal) car.
“I’m already passing your house to get to my meeting, so why not?”
She said ignorantly. She was a lumpy, sweet older woman but if you were even the slightest bit out of place she believed you “aught to get a whoopin,” (her exact words.) We slowly turn into the driveway and I instantly see my mum. She is standing at the top of the cold, dirt driveway glaring angrily at the green SUV. I reach for the handle of the door and my mama is already at my side tugging at my door and scraping the window with her nails.
“Why me? WHY ME?” My mama was mumbling.
She pulled me out of the passenger seat like a ragdoll and dragged me into our wretched, hot, house.
Mrs. Earlen pulled out of our driveway obligingly saying “crazy wives, crazy women, but there are no crazy mothers.”
My mama battered Allysah with insults to wake her, but she was dead asleep.
“The bad men are chasing us, please you little darling brat wake up!”
I was completely shaken with my mama’s actions. How could someone who acts so humble be so cruel? I remember the smell of her hair and the touch of her hands and I felt a wave of helplessness. And with that thought I started to cry and came to the realization that Mrs. Earlen had left us to die the second she started her car up again. An anxiety attack began to set in as my throat started to close. My eyes filled with a river of tears that couldn’t be stopped with any damm.
“Mama stop! Mama there is no ‘bad men,’ please!”
Every word escaping my mouth was trembling and I rubbed my cold hands together; an attempt to feel warmth from somewhere.
My mama responded, “We need to leave. Please LEAVE LEAVE LEAVE!”
Yelps of laughter intertwined with her cries and in those moments I felt like the Earth was falling out of orbit. I could taste the salt of my tears and smell the old smell of our house my daddy used to love. He said it reminded him of settled, happy people who never had to worry.
Oh please oh please no, she cannot drive like that! My mother had stepped into the driver’s seat of our disgusting mini van that smelled so horrifically of cigarette smoke. My mama started up the hunk of metal and I carried Allysah in my arms and sat her in a lumpy little car seat that that they forced me into as a toddler. I hopped into the van just as my mama slammed on the gas, causing my head to crash into the window.
My head ached and I felt a wet tingly feeling on my scalp like a raindrop. Again, I pleaded with mama. I touched my newly opened wound and pulled away from my head with the tips of my fingers masked with blood and the words barely escaped my mouth when I realized I said them.
Allysah then started to have a slight bruised look to her skin and I was in a complete panic. Was the house too hot for her? Is that why she didn’t wake up? Is she breathing? I couldn’t help but question if this was all my fault and if we would be okay.
The wheels squeaked and squealed as we slid in a dangerous right turn to the beach we used to go to when I was little. I remembered the warm summer breeze and my toes touching the water the first time being here. We always parked by a big red slide that was tinted silver due to decay and wear of weather. But this time it was different. This time we didn’t park by the big slide and plowed straight through sand and the pebbles and eventually, the water. We were in the ocean.
The public beach was filled with screams as we kept going further and further in. At least we hadn’t hit anyone.
“Mama please!” my screams filled the crazy car and Allysah finally woke up.
My mama just kept looking forward, deathly gripping the steering wheel, as if she would die with it. I realized if my baby sister were to make it out alive, we would have to fight. I turned back to see Allysah through the headrest and the seat and she gave me the most terrified look I ever saw. But she was ready to fight too.
“Why are you doing this mama?” I asked in a hurry.
She responded “The bad men won’t find us here,” “I have to keep you safe.”
My frustrations with her had reached a maximum. I couldn’t just sit there while my mama drove my baby sister and I into the ocean. My heart was pumping and my mind was racing and I quickly but confidently opened the door of the van. Water started to spill in and my mother snagged my throat with a powerful clutch. I began to gasp for air, but she held tighter and tighter. Every aching breath felt lighter and lighter and more endearing to me. I had never felt so desperate and so grateful that I didn’t have to struggle with not breathing on a daily basis. It all went dark.
I woke up not 20 seconds later. She must’ve let go, I thought. I gazed out of the window on my side of the van, trying not to move too much because I didn’t want mama to see me and this time completely constrict me of hearing. If I can’t move, how can we get out of this, and with that irredeemable thought, I did the one thing that would save Allysah.
I swiftly reached back, unbuckled Allysah and with all of my strength snatched my insane mother’s hair and tugged with all my might. As soon as her face was easily accessible I pounded it with my fists.
“How could you do this to us? We’re your babies!” and that was all I could manage to say to the woman I was forced to call my mother.
She clawed at me and at the corner of my eye I saw Allysah’s sippy cup and chucked it full force at the egg of her head. She screamed with rage but took no opportunity to bat again. Finally. I saw where the sippy cup had landed on the floor and used it as an object to bat at the corner of the window. I read a book once where a boy took the headrest on his chair and used the metal pegs that stick into the seat as something to break the glass, and his father told him to aim for the corner of the window because that is the weakest place for something small to break it. The cup was going to have to do. I swung over and over, my small heart beating like drum. I took one last swing, and
The cup flew out of my hands and hit me right in the nose. I growled and whimpered because with how fast I threw the sippy cup and it was as if a baseball hit and my face was the glove. My sister yelped and shrieked throwing my mother into a episode, and by this point I couldn’t feel more impotent. I lunged for the torn seat belt and started to whip every inch of the interior of the car with it.
“No no no! Why can’t I just go home? This is all just pointless!”
The car had water filled almost up to my stomach. I realized that we would most likely die, and in that regard, Allysah would never learn to properly speak, get married, drive, or meet new people scared me the most.
That’s when I heard yells from outside. I peered into the rear view mirror from my slumped position and four middle aged men running toward the van! Were they coming to save us?
I couldn’t do anything but scream, scream at the top of my lungs, scream until it may be humanly possible to rip my lungs out of my throat and all my mother did was sit there. She sat there with her blank look and her eerie smile.
The last thing she ever said to Allysah and I was, “God, I hate you.” and with those words, she plunged a 6 inch knife into her chest that she had at some point put in the pocket on the driver’s side door, and gasped. While we were being rescued she (I didn’t know at the time) bled out. I guess you could say that was our happy ending, and that our crazy abusive mother was dead and everything would be alright, but it wasn’t. After the death of both of our parents and having no other family, we were forced into two separate foster homes. About a year and a half later, my social worker called to tell my foster mother that my sister died of pneumonia. The home she was put into was broken and she was heavily neglected. I went through a rabbit hole of emotions and could not bear losing her. Ever since that point I had to move to six different foster homes because the parents would never be able to take care of a depressed 10 year old.
Twenty six years later and I became a sailor just as I wanted as a little girl. I’ll always love my mama even if she didn’t love me, but I know it was just her mental illness talking. For Allysah and my father, I miss them dearly and hope that one day my children will be able to meet them in heaven. Sometimes they ask me
“Why don’t we have any grandparents or cousins or aunts and uncles on your side of the family mama?”
I never could muster up the courage to tell them the truth. But now it’s too late. Now, they’re gone and there is nothing anyone can do about it. The bad men can only track you if you have family. I couldn’t get away. It wasn’t personal. Rat poison did the job just fine. But before I did the job I pulled out a picture of my mother and kissed it.
“This is for you,” I said to my mama.