Sometimes you want something that will forever be out of your grasp but still every day in the back of your mind you think stupid stuff like, “Mom is happy. She’s got a good life with Stan maybe not all perfect but not trying to do it alone.” I was eight when she said she was marrying him. I cried but she told me it would work out in the end, and we would never be hungry and she would never get high, never even smoke a cigarette. It was a small price to pay to be under Stan’s foot. When did she start again? Was it because I left? Was it my fault? How could everything go so wrong? Demons follow me in my sleep. Cars crashing, people yelling, me climbing over a fence with Big Al and his machete after me. Then there’s a baby screaming in a bag of dirty laundry, and Linda laying on a blanket without a stitch of clothes, waiting for me until Jake shows up in some kind of a uniform and now he has a machete. As the knife comes down on me, I sit up thrust out of sleep, out of breath, sweat on my brow. Roady groans and presses his feet into my side. I lay back down but I can’t sleep any more.
I must have dozed off anyway because I open my eyes to the sound of tapping on the window and the faces of Jason, Liam and Clinton pressed against the glass staring at me. What is it with these kids and looking at me? I sit up. Jason opens the door and invites himself into my bed.
“How come you’re sleeping outside?”
“I’m not outside.”
Clinton joins Jason in the back seat and Liam sits up front.
“Why don’t you sleep on the couch?”
“Because I’m sleeping here. Everyone out,” I say.
The whole clan piles out, Roady runs off and squats on a patch of weeds to pee. The kids follow me to the kitchen where Junior is sitting at the table eating a huge bowl of cereal. Good at least one of these kids knows how to take care of himself. I make them all eggs and toast then thankfully the oldest three are off to school. Stan is still asleep. Jason says he always sleeps after work. He’s content to watch television and eat dry cereal from a bowl. But I can’t stand to be in this house. I convince Jason to take his bowl and sit in the back seat of the car. Roady sits in the passenger seat, alert and on guard. I feel like I should put a seat belt on him he acts so much like a person. He gives me a soft huff as he notices I’m looking at him.
“You’re a good dog Roady.”
I get another huff for that.
I drive with no destination in mind. I just want to see what’s going on. I know I’ve betrayed myself when I see the big red sign, “Emergency Entrance”. I’ve driven up and down streets and ended up at the hospital. I have to do it. Not because I can’t stand the thought of coming upon Linda and having her say how terrible I am again. Not because Jason is in the back seat looking like a sad puppy, so small to be left in the care of Stan. I have to because I need to hear from her what’s been going on. I need to know if I’m the reason she’s in this mess. As Jason and I take the elevator to the floor she’s on, my mouth goes dry. What will she say?
Read this series from episode 1 by choosing the category- “Roady Series” – Find it in the drop down “menu” at the header of this blog. ——————————————————————————————— This post is fiction based on the back story of a supporting character in a novel in process by Clare Graith. See ClareGraith.com for more info about the author.