dragged away

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

dragged away is a short story based on someone who lives with someone with schizophrenia. the story touches on the worst moments and shows the fears a child in this situation would have.

“I can’t believe you did that!” I exclaimed into the phone. I shifted my position, leaning on the wall.

“Ms. West was putting the class to sleep, I couldn’t just do nothing.” My best friend, Kayla, replies.

I rolled my eyes at this. “You reported her to the principal! What did you even claim she did wrong again?”

“She would always arrive five minutes late to class, right? So I just looked into it and saw what neglecting to supervise us entitles.” Kayla says, sounding smug. “Not that Dr. Burgesses is going to do much. I do have a reputation.”

I scoff, “A bad one. Anyways, I meant to ask if you wanted to come over Saturday and spend the night.” I hear movement upstairs as Kayla starts talking. “Yes, of course. I’ll bring candy and popcorn. We can watch a movie. What do you want me to bring? We never finished The Princess Diaries or we could watch-“ A loud crashing sound came from upstairs before she could finish.

“Kayla, hold on. I heard something upstairs. It most likely was Mom, so I have to go.” I interrupted.

Kayla sounded concerned as she said, “Is she ok?” I had already reached for the button to hang up as she asked the question. I paused to answer. “I’m going to find out.” I hung up before Kayla could ask any more questions or offer pity. The subject of my mom was delicate. Besides, I had to go find out what she was doing now.

I put the phone back and raced upstairs. I paused in the hallway to call out to her. No answer. I cautiously walked to her bedroom door and knocked twice. The door was yanked open and a gun was shoved at my head. I stifled a scream as my mom recognized me.

“Quick, shut the door and get behind me. They’re coming.” She hissed. I obliged and took the opportunity to survey her room. All my mom’s clothes were piled in heaps around the room. My mom hid behind one while she continued to guard the door. Boards were nailed over the single window. I had no idea where the wood came from. Cans of food and water bottles were stocked in the bathroom along with most of what should be on her bed. My mom wasn’t any better than the room. Her once long hair was hacked off with her pocket knife and lay discarded in the corner. She was wearing hiking boots and cargo pants with a camouflage top. Her face had streaks of black I couldn’t identify. Her eyes shone with determination as if she was a general in a war zone. The whole scene was crazy; she had never done anything like this before.

“Mom, what’s going on?” I asked. Instead of an answer I got, “Check the window.” I go over and stand in front of her. “Mom, answer the question.” She stares at me before replying. “They have come to collect what I owe them. But I won’t let them. I’ll protect you. They come in here, they aren’t getting far. You have to help me hold down the place, though. They’re everywhere. They think they’re so quiet but I can hear them.  The plotting, the commands, everything.” Nodding, I move to take the gun from her. My mom jerks back and gazes at me surprised. “I want to guard the door while you check everything’s in place.” I explain. My mom tuts. “No, you can’t use the gun. You don’t have a license.” My plan was falling apart. “Please, mom. It would make me feel safer.” 

“No, I’ve got it. If you want to feel safer go eat something. That always helps.” She says. An idea dawns on me. “Alright, do you want anything?”

My mom gives me a grin at my cooperation. “Sure. I’ll have a granola bar.” I get up to get her granola bar and take out the tiny bottle I keep in my pocket. Sleep pills. I unpackage the bar and split open the end. I take two pills out and shove them in, sealing the end with the sticky filling.

I hand the granola bar to my mom. She takes it, still holding on to the shotgun in her hand. “You didn’t get anything for yourself?” I shake my head. “Nothing I wanted.” My mom sighs, “You're so picky sometimes.”

My mom chews the bar, her eyes and the barrel of the gun trained on the door. I settled down against the wall to wait. Fifteen minutes later, my mom was asleep. I got up to make her bed and move her. After doing so, I rehid the gun in the attic. I have no idea what measures she took to get to it this time. Her delusions must have been bad to have torn up carpet in order to get at the gun.

I cleaned up the rest of my mom’s room. She’d probably just destroy it again but it felt wrong to leave it in such a disarray. Her room was such a mess. It took about an hour of folding clothes, rearranging the furniture, taking down the boards on the window and about a hundred other little things. I also scrubbed the black gunk of my mom’s face and trimmed her hair enough to look normal. It’s fine though, people only ever see my mom from far away anymore.

As part of her treatment, I take my mom on walks every day. Once in the early morning, once in the dead of night. Saying I take my mom on walks just sounds wrong, though. My mom is not a freak, despite what people say about her. Even though I believe this, others don’t. We walk when no one is outside. If they are, we cross to the other side of the street. No one should see my mom like this and only remember her for her disease. Not many remember her as the kindergarten teacher or the lady who handed out popsicles on a hot summer day to the homeless. I guess I shield my mom from others' judgement because it hurts me to see them talk about her, even if my mom never notices they do.

………………………………………………………………………

Turning the vacuum off, I straightened up and surveyed my work. I had cleaned the countertops, organized the countless knickknacks my mom collected in her younger days, and vacuumed every room in the house. I had also given my mom several books to read. If she had another psychotic attack, which wasn’t likely, there wasn’t much I could do. My mom lives under the delusion people are out to get her. It only gets bad when she starts to hallucinate. When that happens, it’s basically like a simulation. It’s not real but it feels that way. Hallucinations don’t happen often for my mom, but they do cause damage.

Hopefully, though, my mom would be content to stay in her room. My evening is booked with Kayla coming over, and I would like to spend it as I please. Not cleaning up after my mom. Besides, my mom had a hallucination while Kayla was here once and it scared her. Kayla doesn’t understand how I cope with it on my own. I do it because she’s my mom and I love her.

The doorbell rang and I rushed to open the door. I had to push on the handle to move it for the wind pounded back with relentless ferocity. Kayla stood outside with several bags full to the brim of unidentified objects. Further inspection revealed mostly junk food. Kayla handed me the bags and pushed her dark, curly hair out of her face. “It’s so windy out there. I almost lost some of the food.”

I smiled and put the bags on the coffee table. “No way. If I know you, you would allow yourself to be framed with murder before parting with anything sugary.” Kayla held up her hands and pasted on a face of innocence. “I plead the fifth.”

“You don’t even know what that means.” I reply.

“True. On a different matter, check out what I brought. There’s marshmallows, cookies, pretzels, chips, and a container of baby carrots. That was my mom’s one condition.” Kayla said, unpacking what looked to be the entire chip aisle.

“Your mom is awesome.” I picked up a jumbo size jar of cheese balls. “Seriously, how do you expect us to eat all of this?”

“We won’t, you will. I made a bet with my dad that we could eat all of it. I am graciously gifting all of this to you to trick my dad and scam a couple bucks.”

“Cool. Now do you want to watch that movie or not? It’s getting late.” I say.

Kayla scoops up a couple bags of junk food. “Your idea of late is ridiculous. It’s only 7:30. Besides, I thought the main goal of tonight was to get sugar highs, stay up past midnight, and become brainless zombies the next day. That’s what you do in sleepovers, not actually sleeping.”

“Your idea of fun is normally a bad idea. I have narrowly avoided becoming the principal’s daily visitor, no thanks to you. Think about yesterday. You reported our teacher. You’ll be lucky if you make it the rest of the year. You shouldn’t go poking the bear, or in Ms. West’s case, fire-breathing dragon.” I retort.

Kayla rolled her eyes and flopped onto the couch. “Grab the movies, will ya?” I reach for the only bag that didn’t contain food. Inside was at least ten different movies, with none of them even close to The Princess Diaries.

“Kayla where did you get this? Texas Chainsaw Massacre? There’s no way we should be watching this stuff!” I exclaim. Kayla nodded. “Duh. That’s why I swiped it. My parents intended to watch it but never got around to it. It’s going to be awesome.”

“No way. I want to have fun, not be scared out of my mind with one of the most gruesome movies in existence. Is there anything safe in here?” 

“The thing closest to what you're looking for is Last Tango in Paris but I doubt that fits your criteria.”

I groan and run my hands through my hair. “I’ll go get a movie from my own collection. It won’t be very good but I can’t watch this crap.” I leave to do this when I heard Kayla call after me. “Before you go, do you want to see what else I brought?” 

I turn on my heel and give her a look. “Relax. I’m just yanking your chain. I really am sorry about the movies, though. I brought The Princess Diaries just in case you didn’t approve of the selected entertainment.” Kayla says, putting on her best apologetic face.

“Fine. I accept your fake apology. Now, let's finish the movie before we fall asleep like last time.” Kayla smiled and patted the seat next to her on the couch. I moved to take a seat when scuffling noise reached my ears.

“Kayla, pause for a minute. Do you hear that?” I could barely hear what sounded like a squirrel over the howling of the wind. We held perfectly still, waiting for the noise, when Kayla spoke up. “I think you're hearing things. You sure it’s not just the wind?”

I frowned. I was sure I heard something. “I guess you're right. It was just the wind.” Then I heard it. “There. Listen, it’s barely audible but you can hear it.”

“Ok, I can hear it now. Correct me if I’m wrong, but i think it’s coming from upstairs. What do you think- oh, crap. Your mom.” Kayla says, sounding worried.

There’s no hesitation as I bolt for the stairs. Kayla trails behind as I take them two at a time in my mad rush to get to my mom. As soon as I reach the landing I see her. My mom is hacking away at the walls with my dad’s pocket knife. Plaster covers the bare floor as the carpet has been ripped away in ragged strips.

“Mom! What are you doing?” I yell. I sidestep past the piles of plaster to get to her. When I reach her, I grab the knife out of her hand and toss it to the side. My mom turns toward me and lunges for the knife. She doesn’t make it far before tripping and falling on her knees. “We have to get out.” She wails.

Kayla retrieves the knife before she can try to reach for it again and hands it to me. “Why is this happening?” She asks. I shake my head. “I don’t know. There never is a reason for when or why they happen.”

I never really remember quite what happened next. The few flashes that stuck with me were being knocked to the ground. I heard Kayla screaming, a dull, throbbing pain in my side, my mom standing over me, a ruthless grin on her face. Then nothing.

……………………………………………………………………………

I awoke in a blinding white room with heavy bandages tied tightly around my sides. It was a hospital room. The room itself smelled of bleach. Two small chairs stood in one of the corners. In them sat Kayla and her mom. When she saw I was awake she came over to the side of the bed.

“What happened?” I croak. I could feel the pain killers starting to wear off. I had to know what put me in the hospital before the pain put me out again. That or the powerful lull of sleep.

Kayla shifted. “You were stabbed.” That simple statement confused me. There was no one there to stab me. Kayla wouldn’t have done it, my mom wouldn’t have done it. Right? Kayla saw the war of my thoughts on my face and continued. “I’m sorry, I had to call someone. I saw all that blood and didn’t know what to do.”

I struggled to sit up. “Where’s my mom? I want to see her.” In the background, I vaguely heard Kayla’s mom shout for a nurse. Kayla tries to gently hold me down as I work my way into a frenzy. “Where is she?” I cry.

A short blonde woman walks into the room. She wears a tight, crisp dress with a touch of makeup. Through my tears I can make out the clipboard she holds. The nurse gives me a sedative and lays me back. When I calmed down, the woman introduced herself.

“Hello, Caroline. My name is Sheryl and I work for child protection services. When this came up, we were forced to take immediate action. To speak bluntly, your mom is stabilized at a facility where they deal with cases like your mom’s. You will be put into foster care and likely will have to move schools. We will let you collect your stuff when you're released from the hospital.”

I struggle to wrap my mind around this. “You can’t take me away! My mom needs me. We were just fine before you decided that we weren’t.” I throw an accusing look at Kayla.

Sheryl crosses her arms. “Don’t you blame her. She did the right thing. She should have done so sooner, but now is better than never. Caroline, you need to realize you can’t keep going the way you were. Your mom stabbed you, for goodness sakes. You’re lucky someone was around to help. This girl saved your life.”

“It wasn’t her fault. She wasn’t thinking.” I argue. Sheryl glares at me. “That’s exactly why we are here now. Get it in your head right now; it’s over. You can’t help her. No one truly can.”

I turn towards Kayla. “This is all your fault. I’m never going to see my mom again. I hate you! I never want to see you again.” I growl. Kayla looks at the ground. Her mom grabs her shoulder and says something just to her. Kayla nods tearfully and they walk out of the room. Sheryl gives me a look.

“I’ll be back tomorrow. Try to get some sleep.” With that, she turns and walks briskly out.

“You’ll never take me! The only way I’m going with you is dragged away, in chains.” I scream after her. I know she’s gone but I do it anyway. It makes me feel better. I continue to curse Kayla and Sheryl until I drift away into a restless sleep, knowing that my life was about to be changed forever.


Submitted: April 21, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Abigail Vonvila. All rights reserved.

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