We all have one event happen to us sometime over the course of our lifetime that will completely change us forever. It effects who we are as a people, and the choices we make. You don't have any idea when it is going to occur, or what it will be, but it’s definitely coming. And there's nothing that you can do to stop it.
My event occurred a couple of months after I turned fourteen, and it did indeed dramatically change my life. At approximately 12:17 pm on a warm Saturday in June, my mom left to go hiking with our Poodle named Puff. She was trekking up a slick, muddy section of the trail, without many people, and no cell phone coverage when she tripped on a root. Well that’s what we think happened. No one on the trail at the time could tell us. Anyways, she fall into the abyss of the forest below. Puff ran for help, in a futile attempt to lure hikers up the trail, but it was to no avail.
Eventually someone found her laying in a crumpled heap submerged in the vegetation. She was rushed to the hospital, and the next thing I knew, she was in a sterile white hospital bed connected to dozens of tubes and life support systems. They tried to stop the bleeding, but at that point not even a miracle could have saved her. There was a gash that stretched all the way across her forehead, not to mention broken bones, and numerous other lacerations covering her entire body. One moment she was there, the next she was dead. One hundred percent, dead.
Even when she was angry at me she was the coolest mom I knew. She looked like a model, five feet eleven inches tall, long straight brown hair, grey eyes like mine and Megan's, always dressed in trendy clothing. She was cheerful, so a smile was almost always spread across her caring face. If I had her back I think that I would embrace her and never let go. I would breathe in her smell of pine trees and cinnamon, and feel her warmth for eternity. Then I would tell her how much I missed her, how sorry I was that I didn’t go hiking with her that day, because if I had, maybe I would have been able to pull her up and saved her.
My dad was so disheartened by my mom's death that he took to constantly drinking hard liquor and eventually became an alcoholic. Since he was never sober, he was fired from his job as a construction worker. This stopped the cash flow from entering our humble abode in Seattle. We still had some money reserved in the bank, but neither of my parents ever made enough to support three people for long. My mom was a waitress at a cheap restaurant that was close to our house before the accident.
Being as I was older and knew how to avoid my father when he was intoxicated, I was able to manage fairly well. As decently as someone who's mom was dead and whose dad had turned into an abusive alcoholic could. But the fear was always there. When I would get home from school every day I would race up to my room with Megan and lock the door.
Megan is my little sister, and she however, was an entirely different story. Being as she was three when all this happened, it wasn't an ideal situation for her. I can still remember her muttering "Where's mommy?" or Where's my mom?" for the first few weeks, and being in a perpetual state of tears. Her old smile was gone, replaced by a deep frown that refused to go away for the longest time.
Everyday, our neighbor Mrs. S. from across the street would pick her up from our rickety front porch for preschool then bring her home in the afternoon. Megan liked hanging out with her son Sammy, and sometimes went over to their house for play dates. Mrs. S was nice, and she knew what we were going though was hard, but there was only so much she could do. I warned Megan not to tell anyone about our dad, and she never did. If she was anything, it was loyal. That kid would do anything that I told her, which could be considered good or bad.
Our daddy would throw her against our kitchen wall, and beat her with a long wooden spoon until she just couldn't take it anymore. Sometimes she would curl up into a battered ball, other times I would come home and find her passed out on the hardwood floor. Occasionally I hid the spoon, but he just got angrier and hit her with his fists, or whatever was laying around that he thought would do the trick.
His moves may have been clumsy and slow, but someone so young didn't stand a chance. This is the main reason why we left. I suppose we could've called child protective services, but these occurrences were so spontaneous that they might not have seen anything unusual. Plus, I heard that it can be years before they try to help you. All of our relatives were either dead, or lived in faraway countries, so we had no help from them either.
I remember one time he came at us with a long serrated knife, threatened to kill us, and screamed out obsenities. We hid ourselves in my room for hours while he scratched at the locked door. He screamed threats through the wood, most of them containing words unfit for young ears, so I covered Megan’s ears with my sweaty palms until he stopped. I worried that he might break down my door, so I barricaded it with a heavy wooden dresser. He didn't get in, so we survived, but I don't even want to think about what would have happened if he had.
I was always a bit of a loner at school, and the few friends I did have would never have listened to me. They were the kind of people you only talk to out of necessity when the teacher says you need to find a partner. Although at the time I wouldn’t have admit it, I always hated it when they did that, they should have just pretended to draw popsicle sticks or something. Moving on. When I sat by them at one of the sticky round lunchroom tables we usually ate there awkwardly not saying anything. I walked the halls alone, yet surrounded with people. But worse were the stares, constant whispers, lies.
“Is that they girl whose mom died?” Girl A would whisper just loud enough for me to hear.
“I think so.” Girl B would say back. They never knew the half of it. They didn’t know that we were completely broke, or that my dad had gone crazy.
“I heard she killed her.” A might say, and it would become like a game of who could lie the best.
“Me too, she strangled her with her bare hands.”
“Oh no, I thought she stabbed her with a fork.” They giggled. Can you believe that? My mother was dead and they were laughing about it. I wondered if they had soles, somehow I doubted it.
I never knew Flynn very well until about a year after the time of my mother's death. Well I did know him, in the way that we were aware of who each other were, but not on a personal scale. I guess you could've considered us acquaintances. Maybe we both just needed someone to talk to, someone to at least act like they cared. So slowly, we grew closer. I never would have imagined that this one friendship could have changed my life so drastically. Especially compared to the ones I left behind.
The two of us were always searching for ways to make our current circumstances better. He was also living below the poverty line, and his parents didn't give a darn about him or what he did. So we made a plan. We would drive, as far as it took us to find someplace better. We would leave on June 18th at 8am. A day after his high school graduation. Flynn would come by to pick up me and Megan, then we would depart, to a place somewhere farther then the eye could see. Money wouldn't be a problem because both Flynn and I worked, and I could rob my dad blind when he was drunk.
© Copyright 2016 Addison Ives. All rights reserved.