I was sitting in the office of a new school, but with a new guardian. She looked like my mom...she sounded like her, but her breast weren’t as big and she talked a lot more than my mom. Who was she? Why was she enrolling me into a new school? The new arrangements were only temporary…weren’t they? She should know that.

It started the night he came home, the one that left us for her best friend. The one that beat us....introduced terrible habits to her; my step dad was finally home but for how long? My brother and I were in the kitchen eating old, mushy ramen noodles for dinner because they forgot to feed us again. We were listening to the snoring baby in the other room, and bickering parents in the next. The noise got louder and louder. We never did finish our dinner that night.

That nightmare was a recurring dream I would have for nights on end. I’d wake up from it screaming and crying, soaked in sweat with my cousin holding me.

She would tell me, “It’s only a dream.” But if only she knew that it actually happened.

That night I saw something that no first grader should have ever seen: police barging into the house called by a crazy ex-girlfriend and ex-best friend. She told them that my step-dad robbed her. however, the only thing he stole was her heart, which he ended up stomping on in the end.

The police wore shiney badges and really bulky black vests. They all marched to the door that my parents were locked behind. I wanted to tell them it was locked but I was rushed into my room with my brother and was told to lock the door and not let anyone in-especially my step-dad. They made me promise to not let my step-dad in.

The last thing I saw was a man extending a gun towards the locked doors. He kick down the locked door to the room which my parents were in, then BAM, went my door, as it was slammed in my face.

Six years have past...six years of phone calls, letters, and supervised visits. I could see the light in her face again, and I believe it was because she was no longer with my step-dad. People says it’s because she went to rehab, but deep down we all knew that the reality of it was that she left Him behind in that old house in Atlantic City. Everyone believed that it was finally happening, it took the women six years to clean herself up for her kids.

But then what they say is true: once an addict, always an addicted.

She ended up with John again, I felt bad for her. My mother was a kind women, but one thing she wasn’t ever taught was how to love. She was young, she didn’t understand that you shouldn’t have to do things in order for someone to love you; that you shouldn’t have to change who you are.

My mom had a rough childhood, she lost her mom at a young age and her living situations after that weren’t perfect either. She was labeled damaged and stupid because she couldn’t learn like the other kids. What she went through made her feel different, and it caused her to rebel against her family. Who wouldn’t want to leave that situation; that life style?

Those things that people told her, built up in her head and she started to believe them, causing her to eventually believe that the love that she gets is what she deserved. Even if it means being physically and mentally abused.

The light dimmed from her face. Months would go by without an exchange of words. One day she called, I couldn’t sit still, I was running around to person to person saying, “See! I told you she’d call!”

When I finally picked up the phone she said, “I don’t think I’m suppose to be talking or contacting you.”

“But Mom,” I said, “Wh….” She hung up on me before I could finish, I was left crying for days. I was stuck in a bubble that no one could bust in or out of.

Months dragged by until we got another call, but I wasn’t the receiver of it my aunt was. My aunt was at work when she got it.  I tend to imagine that everything slowed down for her when she answered that phone. I believed that she stopped cleaning someone's ass, because she was a nurse's assistant at the time, and ran out the door.

While she was there frantically running around her work trying to put pieces together, I was out shopping with my brother and Uncle for a new Easter dress and as we got to the car, another call went through.

Ring.. Ring, his phone went, and it was my aunt. As soon as he answered the phone there was a sudden change in the atmosphere my brother and I could feel it.

My uncle turned to us and said, “Get in the car.” We obeyed.

In the car we watched my uncle pass back in forth at the front of the car. From time to time he would stop, say something, and rub his prickly beard, in what it seemed like, frustration. Time ticked by of the same pattern; walk, walk, turn, look at my brother and I, say something, rub his chin, walk, walk again. It was a continued cycle.

Eventually the silence in the car was broken without looking away from our uncle, my brother asked, “What do you think happened?”

I turned to look at him and said, “Either she got fired from her job or someone died.” Josh, my brother, looked at me. He didn’t say anything else but nodded and we both turned to look at our uncle again. By this time he had already put his phone back into his pocket and had walked to the side of the car. He opened the door, and got in. The ride home was uncomfortably silent, besides the engine that was roaring and the traffic around us. Before we pulled out of the parking lot, some words were said and questions were asked. All that was needed to know was that Josh and I would find out what happened when we got home.

At home, no one was home. The house felt so much smaller because of all the tension and anticipation. I didn’t favor the atmosphere so I hid in my room.

Down stairs the dog began to bark, the next thing I know I’m down stairs on the couch, with my head faced down in the cushion. I was crying, my aunt was crying, my brother was crying and my uncle was just there holding us.

Looking back, I realized I didn’t know why or who I was crying for. When my aunt came home that night she had called my brother and I downstairs to talk, which was a bad sign at the start. The first words were “I’m sorry.”

That night I found out my mom had overdosed on heroin. At the time I was 13, I was hitting about 4 years of living with my aunt. It was half as long as living with my mom. Looking back I realize it was a sad experience, but not because I lost my mom but rather because I didn’t know the severity of the situation.  I reacted the way people expected me to, with tears in my eyes longing to be left alone; It seemed appropriate.

At the funeral people cried and moaned and, yes, I was sad. Though, not to the point where I felt depressed; she was a shadow in my life. My mom was a blank screen. You couldn’t read her, she barely showed emotion. How was I supposed to mourn someone like that? She was and still remains my mother, nonetheless and she will always have that place in my heart.

If I am being completely honest, because I didn’t have complete contact or a viewing for her funeral, I still believe from time to time that she is still out there somewhere.

Comments (2)

Julia Hood (Student 2019)
Julia Hood

You shared a lot of personal stuff in this essay and that's a really hard thing to do so mad props to you, you did a really good job using show not tell, when you told the story of the cops and when you were out with your uncle.