I hustled out of the school building. My other fifth grade friends following. I wanted to stay a while with them outside, but it was too cold for my liking. Frost layered the ground and a chill plowed its way through the air. I waved to my friends and they carried off to the playground in response to my farewell. I closed my eyes and breathed in, letting the smell of wet wood chips and gasoline fill my entire body. I opened my eyes, to see the sky blue car waiting for me. The car that would take me home. The car that had butt warmers in the seats. I ran to the car, happier than usual to be leaving my friends. I opened the door and went through an invisible barrier that separated the chill of November and the warmth of the car. My mom, Yvette, was the first to turn around.
“How was school, honey?” she asked.
“Why do you ask me that every single day after school? It annoys me.”
“I just want to know,” she said, “I care about you.” I sat there and thought about what she said.
“Good,” I lied to her face. “Mom?”
“Before school, you know, yesterday?”
“You were falling a lot and it worried me.”
“Oh, don’t worry about that,” she said. “I just, well umm, wasn’t feeling the best, you know?”
“I guess,” I hesitantly replied.
About twenty minutes later, we were on the street that our duplex was on. I sighed in relief that the drive back to De Pere was over. I looked down for no particular reason and caught a glimpse of something orange. I took another look. It turned out to be a pill. I took hold of it and showed it to Mike, my mom's boyfriend, who was driving, “What is this?” My mom snatched it from me.
“Oh, it’s probably Mike’s,” she looked over at Mike, “right Mike?” Mike took a double take and whipped his hand out, grabbing the orange cylinder.
“No,” he said. From then on Mike occasionally glared at Yvette. I didn’t want to know what was going on, but a part of me said I had to know.
Later that night when I was done eating, I laid down in bed and thought about the pill. Mike came upstairs, after cautiously walking through my room to my bedside, he sat down. He looked at me, he looked at me really deeply. His gaze was warm and full of love, but there was also hatred in his eyes - but not towards me - towards someone else. “Do you mind if I talk to you?”
“About what?” I asked. I thought about all the possible things he would say in response, but he didn’t respond. He didn’t have time to. My mom came barreling into the room crying. Tears streaming down her cheeks, bundling at her chin waiting to fall.
“I’m so sorry, baby” she cried. Mike didn’t want to deal with her, so he told her to leave. She obeyed and backed out of the room sniffing up snot and tears. Mike turned back to talk to me, but after what I saw, I was mad at him. I didn’t want to know what horrid things he did to my mom. Did he hit her? Choke her? Thoughts kept flowing through my brain. One thought after another.
“Can we talk about this tomorrow?” I asked, glaring at him. Mike looked at me, I could tell that confusion was tugging at him, but he’d soon understand.
“Yeah, sure thing.” He stood up and walked out of the room. I sat in silence, pondering my next move. My mom would occasionally walk past my door and look in as if I was blind and wouldn’t notice her. I just shut my eyes, not caring if I slept through tomorrow.
* * * *
I grip my seat harder. I looked at my mom as if she were pure bedlam. She looked back at me and smiled, which was the last thing I wanted her to do. My mom swerved hard on the highway.
“What was that for?” I shouted.
“I don’t know, honey. There was probably ice on the road.” I gawked at her. Ice on the road? Are you kidding me? It’s warm enough for a short sleeve shirt, unlike yesterday! I was on edge with my mom. She was acting like a lunatic! I looked hard at the door handle. I would have had a better chance of surviving if I jumped out of the car, I thought. Yvette locked the car doors as if she knew exactly what I was thinking. Which I didn’t like one bit. I closed my eyes; I was scared and embarrassed. I didn’t want to know what the people driving behind us thought.
I jerked forward, a sign that the car stopped. I carefully looked up to see that we arrived at school. I reached into the backseat and grabbed my backpack. I flung the door open and ushered myself away from the car. In the distance, I heard my mom, “Have a good day, honey.”
“I’ll have a good day knowing Mike is going to pick me up after school,” I whispered to myself.
* * * *
That weekend, I sat in my room. Mike left a couple of minutes ago, to go to work. I thought back to what Mike told me before he left. I thought about how he said my mom was taking drugs, painkillers to be exact. I had no emotion; my real mom was gone. She was lost in a world of sadness.
It was around seven thirty at night. I was alone in my room until my mom decided to walk in. “Leave me alone,” I shouted at her.
“You think I’m ‘all that bad’? Lemme show you what Mike has,” she shouted back. I got up and followed her into the master bedroom. Yvette took a right when she walks in, but I took a right before I entered, and I ran down the stairs. I ran through the living room and reached the front door in a matter of seconds. I opened it and dashed into the frigid night, wearing only socks and shorts. It had snowed four inches since I last rode in the car with my mom, so now she has an excuse for a slippery road. I ran across the street to my neighbor's house, slipping and sliding on the ice on my way over.
I fiercely pounded on the door, wanting nothing more than for them to answer. My friend, Deonte answered, “What’s up?” Didn’t answer him, instead, I shouted in his face.
“Let me in! Please, let me in! Please, please!” I shoved him to the side and leaped inside. I turned around and fumbled with the lock, trying to lock the door. I heard a bang on the door and saw Yvette peek through.
“Give me your phone!” Yvette screamed at me.
“No!” I yelled back at her. I knew exactly why she didn’t want me to have my phone; she didn’t want me calling Mike. She tried to grab my phone, but I yanked it out of her reach. In the meantime, Deonte and his mom were staring in horror. Finally, Deonte’s mom spoke up.
“Be quiet,” she whispered, “The baby is sleeping.” Instantly, the room fell dead silent. My mom looked at me, squinted her eyes, and left. I was at Deonte’s house for a good ten minutes, then my mom texted me:
-You need to come home soon- I sat there, processing what she said, then replied.
-Okay, but when I get back, I want to take a shower- I then waited for her response. I breathed in through my nose, smelling the smoke from the cigarette that Deonte’s mom just put out. Finally, Yvette replied.
-That's fine, but be home soon- I didn’t want to be home soon, but I did want to go home at some time.
Twenty-two minutes had passed and I decided to head home. “Bye Deonte,” I said as I walked out of the door.
When I arrived, I went straight to the bathroom, took my clothes off, and hopped into the shower. Once in the shower, I closed my eyes, put my hands together, and started to pray. Please, God, help me. Help my mom. Help Mike. Give us all guidance, please. A tear crawled its way to my chin, letting go to splash and mix into the water on the bottom of the tub.
Later that night, after my shower, I sat in bed and started to pray to God again. Please God, my whole family needs your help, and you aren’t doing anything. Can you possibly be that selfish? Right when I was done praying, my mom walked in. She sat on my bed and started to cry. “Me and Mike are going to break up,” she said. My eyes widened. My friend, my dad, part of my family was going to break away forever? I started crying, why do you do this to me, God? Why do you always break me? You always take what’s broken and break it even more! What is wrong with you?! I was brought back to reality by a sharp pain in my face. My mom slapped me. My mom slapped me! I got off the bed and ran downstairs. I walked into the kitchen and went towards the knifes. I had it, God was never going to be here for me.
“I’m going to kill myself!” I screamed, my hand was only a couple of inches away from the knife set, but my mom pulled me away, away from freedom. She swung me out of the kitchen, throwing me to the floor. I got up and attempted to go up the stairs. Yvette shoved me and I face planted into the steps. “Leave me alone!” I yelled at her. She backed off a little but continued to pursue me. When I reached my room, I turned around in an effort to close my door, but Yvette shoved it open. I hopped onto my bed in an attempt to get further away from her. She crawled onto the bed and sat in my way, trying to block the door. In that instant, I heard the garage door open.
Yvette looked at me and said, “Fine, go tell.” I got up and attempted to dive over my mom. I successfully landed on the corner of my mattress. I started to crawl off but out of nowhere, Yvette grabbed my ankle. I kicked her hand with my other foot while wiggling. Yvette let go and I flung forwards. I got up and sprinted out of my room. I took a hard left and jumped the whole flight of steps. I landed with an ‘oof’ and the sound of a ‘pop’ in my knee. I stood up and whipped around the corner into the kitchen while having a mental fit with God. You need to help us! Help me! Please! I went through the laundry room and flung the garage door open. Mike was there when I opened it. He sat there, staring at me. He then bent over and gave me a hug. I cried into his sweater and he squeezed tighter. Yvette came around the corner. “Listen, Mike, I-”
“Get away!” he barked at her. She looked at me and backed away without question.
* * * *
Days have passed and I started to question God’s existence. Every day I would pray to him and nothing would change. Every day I would ask for guidance, and no guidance came. God isn’t real, I thought, did you hear that?! You aren’t real! You don’t mean anything to me! I sat in silence and started to question myself. If you don’t believe in God, why are you still talking to him? I started to tear up. Am I going crazy too? I asked myself. I guess I don’t want to know the answer. And the truth was, I didn’t want to know the answer. I texted Chloe, one of my best friends, asking her to come over.
-I’ll be over in a min- She said. The last thing I wanted was to wait, especially when I’m alone in the house with Yvette.
Five minutes had passed, and I heard a knock at the door. I went downstairs and put my shoes on. I opened the front door and saw...my dad. “You’re coming over to my house,” he said.
“I am?” I was confused.
“Yes,” he replied. “You’ve been missing school for a while now. I don’t want you over here anymore. Get your stuff.” I looked at him. Confusion was clawing at my face. I went back upstairs and hid my phone. I didn’t want my mom getting a hold of it, considering she was on the borderline of crazy and almost “normal”. I didn't grab anything because I already had what I needed. I went back outside and hopped into the truck.
I was thankful that my dad picked me up, for I might have ended up crazy, just like my mom. The ride to his house was silent - too silent. All I could hear was air rushing its way through the barely opened windows. I looked at my reflection that was on the window. I believe in no God.