Some pretty heavy language here, just to warn you. This is a story I've had on backburner for a while. I've been working on novel material lately and I've needed to get a break for it. I kind of had this idea in my head, but didn't have the time to turn it into anything. Finally, I did and here it is. It's a very experimental story told in first person. In typical WA Ross fashion, it's a heavy-handed story dealing with loss.
My mother died on Tuesday. Natural causes, but she could have lived longer if she hadn't drank and ate herself to death. Fat and drunk. That's my mom.
Love her to death though.
And ha. To death.
I call her fat and drunk, but I can't mean it as an insult.
I'm just as bad.
Tried to quit a couple of times.
But y'know. Shit just happens, y'know?
I didn't find her body. Susan did. Susan's my sister. Susan said mom was laying there on the couch taking a nap and she wouldn't get up. She was dead. Susan called and I cussed her out. “Fuck you,” I said. Hung up on her. I hate Susan. She's the only member of our sorry excuse of a family to make anything of herself. I hate her and mom hated her, but mom would never say it. Susan loves to flaunt around her money and her husband and even her sobriety. I mean, what the hell, right?
Susan calls me back and I believe her. I didn't see mom's body. I didn't have to and I didn't want to either. It's just mom but she can't talk back. It's okay, I guess. I don't have to hear how much her government checks ain't cuttin' it. Mom could be a real bitch sometimes. She drove crazy.
I loved her though.
She was my mother.
Found myself at a bar for the next couple of nights. I don't remember what all I drink. It's all cheap stuff that makes you drunk fast. That's all I wanted.
I wanted to forget.
I wanted to forget my shitty little life.
I wanted to forget all the nasty stuff Susan said about me.
I wanted to forget all the crap mom said about me.
I wanted to forget trying to find that dickhead of a father I apparently had. Let us when I was four, Susan was like six.
I wanted to forget I had to keep living.
I wanted to forget mom ever even existed.
I couldn't though. I'd wake up the next morning hungover, my head shooting guns, and the memories and pain still there. It hurt, but it wasn't like getting punched. I got punched of times. It wasn't like getting stabbed. I got shivved before. It's not the same. You can not care about those things, but this? I've got no choice but give a fuck.
It was Thursday morning when I took a beer bottle and smashed it against my hand. It was a Heineken bottle. I remember because it was green. But yeah, I was hungover as hell and everything hurt like hell. I just wanted it to stop. I wasn't thinking and I just smacked it down. Damn bottle was still half full. Bits of the glass stuck into my skin, blood was everywhere and it was mixing with the alcohol. It hurt like all hell. I didn't care about my mom anymore though, at least not for a few minutes.
I had to call Susan to take me to the hospital. She got out of work to take me and yelled at me the whole way in the car. I don't remember what about. Not like I cared though.
We got into the ER and the doctors had to put in twenty-nine stitches and yank out the glass.
Everyone asked how it happened, but I wouldn't tell.
They didn't need to know.
And I didn't want my sister knowing I was hurting. She couldn't see that. You've got to understand, I couldn't give her another reason to think she's better than I am. Just because you're a professor or whatever doesn't make you better. It just makes you a proud bitch no one wants to be around.
When we left the hospital, I asked Susan for some money.
She said no.
The funeral was on Friday. I didn't really want to go.
Susan made me do it though. Apparently mom left a last will and testament. She had nothing to give except for a couple of worthless family heirlooms.
A couple of ties my granddad wore.
Some other crap I don't remember.
But it said something else. It's like she had this vengeance scheme all built up when she wrote it. It said that she wanted me to give a eulogy. I mean, seriously? Me? And who the hell's gonna come to my mother's funeral? Nobody, that's who. And she wants me to eulogize to nobody. I'm not good at speaking, not at all.
Not even a little bit.
But she wants me to-
I got drunk again that night. Didn't smash anything on my hand though. I learned that lesson good. I tried my best to tie a noose that night though. I couldn't do it though. It's not because I had some kinda emotional breakthrough where I realized life was worth living or anything stupid like that. No, I just couldn't tie the knot. Not matter what, it wouldn't happen. I felt so damn worthless. Then I must have fallen asleep because I just don't remember giving up.
Can't even kill myself right.
The funeral was at ten in the morning. I got there at ten-fifteen, my head throbbing like a jackhammer on steroids and a bottle of cheap whiskey in my hand. Susan saw me and she was furious.
“Where have you been?” She shouted at me. Maybe she wasn't shouting and she just sounded loud. I don't know.
“Sorry,” I shrugged.
“This is your own mother-”
“I said I'm sorry. Nothing I can do about it.”
“And what's this?” She took the bottle right outta my hands. “You can't bring-”
I nabbed it back, “Yeah, I can. It's mine. Don't touch it.”
She rolled her eyes, “Yeah, okay, whatever. You put something together for mom?”
“Don't worry about it.”
“You didn't, did you?”
“Look, I said don't worry about, so don't worry about it. I've got this.”
“Okay, fine,” she threw up her hands like it meant something. “The preacher's going to say something and then you're up. Don't screw this up.”
“I said don't worry about it.”
She should worry about it.
She should so worry about it.
I took a massive gulp of my whiskey before going into the church room. The preacher was in there saying some God stuff that I don't care about. He just went on an on. And when I knew he was about done....
I couldn't do it.
I got the shakes real bad and I just ran.
It's not cause I don't love mom. I just got scared. Real scared and I can't explain it. What's there to explain? I pushed open the front door to the church and immediately slipped on the steps leading down the street.
It hurt, but whatever. I didn't care. I just lay there. I think I was crying. I don't know. I don't remember.
Susan came to my side soon and she asked, “Hey, what are you doing? Are you alright?”
I pulled myself up to where I was sitting and looking at her and I said, “I can't do it.”
“Oh, come on! All your life, you've-”
“Oh, shut the fuck up, Susan! I'm not a failure, I'm not.”
“I didn't say that.”
“But you were going to do.”
“I didn't say that.”
“Just as good.”
She spat, “Stop it! Just stop it!”
“I can't do it.”
“Yes, you can.”
“No, I- I can't.”
“I just can't, alright?” I shook my head. “I didn't write her the speech. I got drunk last night.”
I scoffed, “Yeah, I'm sure. You think you're so much better, then why don't you give the speech?”
“Will you stop with that?” Susan looked pissed off. “I don't think I'm better than you. I'm not giving the eulogy because mom didn't ask me to. Mom wanted you to do it.”
“Funny how she gets back at us, right?”
She shook her head, “Do you know what the will actually said? It said for you to give the eulogy because she loves you. She gave me some crap on there, but she said she loved you twice. There wasn't- there wasn't anything like that for me. Mom loves you. Not me. She just wants you to say some nice things about her. You love mom too, don't you?”
“Yeah,” I looked down at my bottle. “Yeah, I love mom. She was a good lady.”
“Yeah,” a tear came down Susan's cheek. “But she loved you more. I've got a lot of things you don't have. I've got a job, money, a house, and- but you've got the one thing I'd burn all of it to have. Mom loved you. She never loved me. As soon as I got ahead, she hated me.”
“She didn't hate you.”
“Sure she did.”
“She didn't hate you,” I put my hand on my sister's shoulder. “She just didn't know what to do with you. Mom always thought you were better than us. You are better than us. Mom just didn't wanna- I don't know. Look, I'll go in there and say stuff about her.”
I got up and started to walk inside. Susan grabbed my arm though and said, “Hey. Look, I know it's rough, but, look, no matter what, we're family and I love you.”
I put my arms around her in a hug and she hugged me back. By that point I knew I was crying. I wasn't just crying, I was sobbing, I was bawling. “I love you too,” I choked.
I let her go and we looked into each other's eyes. We both had mom's eyes. It was weird seeing her again like that. But she was there. I looked down at the bottle in my hand and I gave it to Susan. I told her to hold onto it. She didn't though.
The bitch threw it.
It flew right across the street and shattered onto the curb.
The amber juice splattered as the clear glass shattered.
It made me mad at first, but not for long.
I took a deep breath and told Susan, “Thank you.”
“Go,” she nudged me to the door.
I went in there and I stumbled through a story of two about mom doing nice things. I told everyone about how she used to go to the old people home and help them out. I told them about this time mom destroyed the clutch in our first stick shift. Twice. I lied about how great she was, but it felt good. It's like I was convincing myself how bad things weren't. Maybe they ain't that bad. Maybe.
But Susan found my afterward and hugged me again. I told her I was sorry for my shitty excuse for a eulogy. She said it was good and mom would be proud. I didn't believe her. Didn't matter though. Nothing felt better than having my proud old sister telling me I did good. We went out to lunch together.
I didn't get drunk that night. I stayed at my sister's place. I told her I wanted to get clean.
I don't know if I really meant it, but Susan's reaction told me one thing. She smiled and encouraged me to find help. That told me one thing. It told me that when said she loved me, she meant it.
And that means everything in the world.
I love you.