Shades of Black
Author's note: I like to try to expand my writing by making myself try and write about different lifestyles. I... Show full author's note »
Ebony“You did what?” Aria demanded. Clare, Aria’s mother, sat lifelessly on a grey couch in the living room. Beer bottles lay littered at her feet, and she stared at Aria with bloodshot eyes.
Claire was silent.
“You did WHAT?” Aria demanded again, furious.
Again, Claire was silent.
Aria knew Claire didn’t care. She could see that now. Somehow, she had always been oblivious enough to think that Claire had cared to, at least, some degree. Nobody who cares about their child sells them in order to pay off a debt.
All these years, Aria had stuck with her mom because she had known her mom wouldn’t make it on her own, and even though her mom never returned any of it, Aria had loved her. She hated herself for it, but she still loved Claire. Claire was her mother, and that couldn’t be changed, no matter how much Claire would have liked it to.
Finally, as if regaining some sanity, her mother’s mouth began to move.
“Where’s my medicine?” Claire slurred, and then, in almost an afterthought, she added, “you start at 6. Wear something nice.” Claire had never been able to call the heroin and marijuana by their real names; instead it was always “medicine.” Aria stalked into the kitchen and pretended she hadn’t heard. She could hear her mother get up and begin to frantically pull cushions off the couch while looking for the stash.
“How do you owe him three thousand dollars?” Aria seethed while opening a cupboard. Earlier that morning, she had hidden the stash inside of an empty vitamin bottle and she wanted to check that it was still there. She was determined not to let her mother have any until she could get some answers. The kitchen was a mess. Dirty dishes overflowed the small sink and onto the counters. The floor hadn’t been swept in days and the trash needed to be taken out.
“Shut up and hand it over, that’s none of your f-ing business” Claire snarled.
“While you were sleeping off your hangover, Dalton found me on the beach. You SOLD me to him. I think that makes this my business Claire!”
Claire sat down and stared while letting her drug-addled brain process the information. “Dalton? I don’t owe Dalton nothin’.”
“No? So you just sold me to him for nothing?”
“Sold? Why would I sell you honey? I love you, now run along and get your mommy her medicine. I’m not feeling so well.” Claire’s usually pale face was starting to sweat, and Aria wondered how many minutes s she had left before her mother became abusive. Her mother’s cycles were always the same. First was the pleading and begging and then came the abuse. There was always the abuse.
“No Claire. I need answers. I’ve hidden your stash until I get it.”
Aria could see Claire’s face begin to darken until she was red with rage. “Dammit!” At this, Claire launched herself off the smelling and sagging couch and towards Aria. “Dammit!” Claire began to blow-the drugs making her already small amount of self-control almost non-existent, “Why the hell would you do that? ! That’s mine and if you touch it again, I will f-ing kill you!”
Her mother’s death threats were usually pretty frequent. However, no matter how many times her mother threatened her, Aria always found herself shuddering in fear. The first death threats had begun the day after her father announced that he wanted a divorce. Aria, in an effort to protect herself, had started sleeping with a knife under her pillow and one in the top drawer of her bedside stand.
She hoped she would never have to use it.
A long time ago, Dalton and her mother had used to be lovers. Her mother had related the story one time during a particularly arduous drunken stupor. It was before she was married, Claire had assured Aria. “We were just kids.” Claire had slurred. Aria wanted to tell her that she was still a kid but she had held her tongue. Instead, Aria had listened to Claire tell stories about long walks in the park and poker games in dark, foul-smelling taverns. “He was such a nice young lad,” her mother had mused, “such a nice gentleman.”
Nice gentlemen don’t buy kids, Aria thought. Nice gentlemen don’t run bars and strip clubs and, nice gentlemen certainly would not associate with her mother. Her mother had gone into hysterics after the story and Aria had had to carry her to bed and tuck her in. She remembered pulling the brown, raggedy blanket up to her mother’s chin only to be shocked to hear her mother murmur something about a secret. But then she was gone-asleep in her drug-induced coma: Dead to the world.
Filling a cup with water, Aria walked back to her mother only to find Claire asleep again. Stench emanated from Claire’s skin and Aria tried not to guess how long it had been since Claire had bathed. Sighing, she slumped into a wooden chair-the only other piece of furniture in the living room-and put her head into her hands. She had twenty minutes before she was supposed to be at work.