So I previously posted this story way back when and then deleted it because I lost inspiration to continue writing it. But I recently found the motivation to continue with this story and I hope you enjoy!
When I was younger my mother used to tell me stories. Make believe stories of course, but I was young so everything sounder realistic to me. She would tell me stories of the skies and the people that lived there. They were such good stories that I swore to her one day I was going to live there. And she would just laugh and tell me:
“I have no doubt in my mind that you won’t find it.”
Those were the easier days. Those were the days when we were happy, and only one thing happened that made my mm potentially unhappy. I was asleep in my bed, and I heard a lot of shouting. I tip-toed out of my bed and crept to the stairs, and there was my other. Begging. On the floor; like a peasant. At my age I shouldn’t have known what that word meant, but I knew from the stories that my mom told me. The peasants would beg to the king to show them mercy. Usually the kind would. But in this case, he didn’t. My father left us that day, and from that point on everything seemed… complicated. And who would’ve thought that ten years later things would become even more problematic than before.
“Rocket….Rocket wake up.” Someone whispered in my ear.
I opened my eyes slowly, trying to adjust to the light. I turned my head slightly to the right only to find a man looking down on me.
“Frank, what’re you doing here? Aren’t you supposed to be watching my mom?”
“Well,” he said laughing nervously. “Funny thing that happened. I sort of lost her after we hit the bar.”
I bolted upward. “You lost her?” I said indulgently.
“Hey, it’s not my fault.” He said raising his hands in defense. “You know how she gets when she’s on that stuff.”
He saw the look on my face and added quickly, “I did find her though. She’s at the Verge.”
I groaned, “You know how I am about that place.”
“I know, but she won’t come with me. You’re better at this than I am Rocket, please?”
I sighed, but nodded. “Alright, I’ll get her.”
I jumped off my bed and headed straight out the door, not even pausing to put on new clothes.
I hated going to the Verge because it was always filled with prostitutes and old men trying to get some. But my worst nightmare was my mother’s dream land because it was there that she gets all the drugs she needed. Cocaine, PCP, heroin, LSD, amphetamines…you name it.
I slowly made my way around to the Verge Ugh. I could just smell the drugs cooking. I avoided everyone’s eyes and in return they stared at me. It was unusual to see a child at the Verge, unless she was there for prostitution, and I certainly wasn’t dressed for the occasion. All the women swept their eyes up and down my body looking for imperfections that were easy to spot. My dark brown hair was tangled all the way down my back and my blue eyes still had sand in the corner of them. As for my outfit selection I was wearing sweats, a t-shirt, and some old tennis-shoes. As always.
An old man startled me by gabbing me by the arm.
“Looking for someone love?” he said, his breathe smothered in hard liquor.
“Actually yes,” I said as I wrenched my arm from his grip. “White woman. Blonde. Sort of loopy.”
“Oh yeah, she’s been here all night. Passed out around three.” He said pointing behind him.
I glanced behind him to see if he was telling the truth, and sure enough in the back corner of the room, curled up in a heap of sheets, was my mother.
“Excuse me,” I said to the man while keeping a close eye on his hands.
He stepped aside and I practically speed walked all the way to my mother.
I gave her shoulder a shake. “Mom,”
I rolled my eyes, stood up, reared my foot back, and WHAM! Right into her side.
“Ouch!” she screamed jolting up.
“Rocket, what the hell is wrong with you?” she snapped angrily.
Yup. She’d been doing drugs alright. Her normally green eyes were red and she had bags under them. Her face looked even more frail than usual, and her blonde hair was rigid and choppy and smelled of smoke.
“Mom, you can’t keep running off like that. You had me worried.” I said frowning down at her.
Her anger subsided into giggles as she laid her head back down on the sheets.
“Rocket, you sound like my mother. She was always worried about me going off, or doing something.”
I smiled a little.
“I couldn’t imagine why.”
Then we both just busted into a laughing fit that made my sides hurt.
POW! Uh-oh. That sound had sounded awfully like-
“Gunshots.” My mother whispered.
And then a second POW ran through the Verge. We both froze momentarily and then went into frenzy.
“Rocket, grab my bag!” my mother yelled at she stumbled to her feet.
I did as I was told sprinting back to her. She was bent over a sturdy pile of dugs and money left by someone there.
“Fill it,” she said nodding at the bag.
“Mom…” I said softly.
“Now Rocket!” she shouted.
I hastily swept the drugs and money into the bag, and swung it over my shoulder.
And then we were running. That was how I got the name Rocket. If you had a run in with the cops every other day, you’d be pretty fast too. And because after a while you don’t feel like you are running or your feet are touching the ground. It becomes almost second nature, as if you were born to run like that. And continue running forever, and ever, and ever, and ever.
“Great mom! Way to get us almost killed.” I yelled when we reached our house.
“Keyword: almost,” she said grinning. “We’re still here aren’t we?”
She waked up the steps of our porch and reached for the handle but I stopped her
“You said you were going to try,” I said in exasperation.
She closed her eyes and ran her fingers through her entwined hair.
“I know,” she said softly. “I know, I know. Just give it some time. Everything will work out right, it always does.”
“And I want to believe that it will,” I said hysterically “But right now, you’re still on drugs, you’re still prostituting, and we don’t have a dime to our name except of what you just stole from inside a crack house…” I paused and tried to lighten my voice
“It’s just…That doesn’t sound like everything’s working out.” I said looking at my feet.
My mom grasped my chin and lifted it up. Her face was grave, all trace of laughter gone.
“I will never let anything happen to you.”
And in that moment her voice was so solemn that it was hard to believe that what she had said was anything but the truth.
I nodded my head and let her cradle me in her arms for a while.
“Okay,” she said patting my back. “Enough of this sadness.”
She grinned and me and headed inside our small home. There were only three rooms in the whole house: The bathroom, the bedroom, and the living room with the kitchen inside. Home sweet home.
Frank was lying across the sofa his eyed glued to the T.V, but once we entered the room he etched a look of concern onto his face.
“Charlie. Rocket. I was so worried.”
“Yeah it looked like it.” My mom said pointing to the T.V.
I smiled at the both of them. Frank had been a part of our family since my dad left. He had originally been one of my mom’s clients, but they got to know each other and become friends. Frank really didn’t have anything to contribute to the family, but he was generous with the little money he did get. I didn’t know where my mom and I would’ve been without Frank.
And just like nothing happened, three hours later we were all playing cards around the living room table. Half of my mind was in the game while the other half roamed elsewhere. I loved my mother very much, but I saw what drugs could do to people, and there was little to no chance of her quitting drugs without help. Then a crazy thought passed through my mind. What if I did get help from-?
Nope! Absolutely not! A tiny voice said inside of my head.
He could help her though. I retorted to myself.
Help her?! The other side scoffed. He’s the reason she’s on drugs right now! If you inform him about it, you might as well be putting the drugs right in her hands!
Why don’t you just ask her?
“Mom,” I said suddenly.
“Mm,” she said placing a queen of hearts on the table.
“Do you ever think about dad?” I asked quickly.
A hush fell upon the room. My mom looked up with an expression so beyond rage it pained me just to look at her.
Told you so…
“I mean, do you ever wonder what he’s doing?” I said quietly.
My mother struggled to keep her voice calm.
“I try not to think about your father as much as possible. And when I do think of him I curse him for putting us though this.”
“Hear, Hear!” Frank said trying to uplift the mood.
I bit my lip. “But what if he could help? What if he could help to get you some help?”
My mom closed her eyes and pressed her fingers to her forehead.
“Frank, could you leave me and Rocket alone for one moment?”
That wasn’t a good sign.
Frank frowned deeply. He hated being left out of things, but nevertheless he got up quietly, and walked into the other room
“Mary,” my mother started.
That was REALLY not a good sign.
“Mary when your father left us, he left us for another woman.”
Oh. I had never thought of that. I had never really thought of there being a reason behind him walking out. I thought he did it simply just because he could.
“Do you know her,” I asked skeptically.
She shook her head.
“I’ve never even seen her,” she said before shaking her head and smiling. “She must be pretty or rich. Or both.”
Or sober. I thought to myself.
“You’re pretty too mom.” I said reassuringly.
She grimaced. “Not as pretty as I used to be.”
That reminded me. “Mom, you need help. And sitting in a house that’s filled with drugs isn’t going to make your addiction go away.”
She waved a hand at me impatiently.
“Rocket, I’m not addicted. I can stop anytime I want. It’s just…I’m going to need some time, that’s all.”
I sucked at my teeth, but didn’t say anything else. I didn’t want to push her over the edge. Not yet anyways.
“Rocket, why are you so worried when I just told you nothing bad was going to happen? Don’t you trust me?” She asked making a crease show on her forehead.
“Of course I trust you it’s just that-,”
She stopped me. “Rocket, in a few weeks I’ll be completely drug free. We’ll start on a fresh page you, me, and Frank.”
“You promise?” I asked automatically holding out my pinky.
She stared at my pinky while she lit the end of a cigarette, and then primly took it out.
I lied in my bed that night and kept rewinding my mother’s two words in my head.
I swear. It seemed liked two common words. People used them every day, but to me they meant the world. They held a vow and a bond so strong that God himself couldn’t break it. I snickered a little. It was amazing of the power that two simple words held even if they meant nothing at all. And with that in mind, I snuggled down on my bed, and drifted to sleep with swears of stupidity on my mind.
The next few days where unnervingly normal. She hadn’t used for a straight week, and it was setting my teeth on edge. It was like watching a suicidal drunk standing on the edge of a building. You knew that in due time he would either jump or reluctantly come down, but still you waited, all day if you had to, craning your neck to see a glimpse of the man with a dilemma. On the other hand, while the days that passed were unnerving, they were also very blissful. I hadn’t remembered spending so much time with my mother. Between the prostitution and doing drugs I rarely saw her at all. It was reassuring to have her in my sight at all times. But, do you remember the history of Black Tuesday. In that time everything was going great. Credit had been introduced, and everyone was happy, but there came a day when everything crashed, stopped, and the fun was abruptly put to an end. This was precisely what happened to my mother.
“Rocket. Rocket.” Someone whispered in my ear. It was the middle of the night and my mother was standing over me with pain in her eyes. I sat up quickly.
“What’s wrong?” I asked at once.
She bit her lip as if being torn.
“I tried,” she began, and a groan escaped my lips.
“Mom, you’ve been doing so well, don’t stop now.”
“I just need a little bit. Lend me twenty, and I swear this’ll be the last-.”
“No!” I screamed, cutting her off. “You always say this, and I’m tired of your excuses!”
She hung her head and took deep, long breathes.
“Your right,” she whispered, “Just give me the money and I’ll be out of your way.”
She held her hand out, and waited to receive the money, but my jaw clinched. That was it. I couldn’t sit there and watch my mother ruin her life, or be the one responsible if she did.
I shook my head. “No…I can’t…I won’t.”
Her face turned suddenly grim.
“No?” she said her voice now cold and hard.
I stayed silent, only listening to our two breathes deeply breathing.
“No?” she repeated.
And she let out a crazy, hysterical laugh that filled the room.
“I don’t know who the fuck you think you’re talking to!”
“Mom, let me get you some help. Dad…he can help.” I said swallowing hard.
“Rocket, I’ve told you before, I don’t need help from that man! Just give me the money!”
I rolled my eyes. “What happened to all of that money you stole from the crack house? Use that because I’m not giving you jack.”
“It’s gone! It’s all gone! It barely last me the last few days!” she yelled.
Bile rose in my throat. “You’ve been using all this time?”
“Rocket, drugs are my life. That’s just the way it is.” She said.
There was a split silence in which we both looked at the drawer that held my money in it, and then we both sprang into action. She got to the handle first, and yanked the drawer open. I quickly snatched the money in my hand, and ran from the door. I felt her arms clasp around my knees, and I crashed into the ground. She climbed on top of me, wrestling me for the money, while scratching and biting my arms. I screamed and the door flew open with Frank standing in its wake. It took him a second to process the scene and then he was snatching my mother from on top of me.
“Charlie, what are you doing?” He said in a most un-Frank like voice. “This is your daughter!”
“You know I ran out of money! I need it, and she won’t give it to me!” She screeched and fidgeted in his arms.
My face constricted. “You knew?”
Frank looked down at his feet and nodded.
I bolted straight out of the room, screaming my head off as I went.
“I can’t take this anymore!”
I swung open our door and ran down the street not even caring about where I was going.
Somehow I ended up at the edge of the Verge, and I shivered. I wrapped my arms protectively around myself, and began walking the other way.
“Hey sweetheart!” someone called from a distant.
I did a double take, and my eyes landed on a young man catcalling from the side of a building.
He was surrounded by two prostitutes who seemed to be interested in making a deal with him.
I ignored him, and continued walking forward.
“C’mon baby, don’t be like that.” He said now completely dismissing the whores.
He jogged up right next to me, but I kept my eyes forward.
“What’s your name lovely?” He asked.
I grimaced and made a sort of disgruntled noise.
“How about I give you a special price?” He asked more affirmably while stroking a piece of hair out of my face.
I stopped dead in my tracks.
“I’m not for sell.”
He paused for a second seeming to understand, and then spoke again,
“Are you sure?”
“Positive buddy. Beat it.” I said more firmly.
He laughed half-heartedly. “Feisty. I like it. Look sweetie, why don’t you come back up to my place. I’ll pay you double than I pay any of these whores.”
He held his hand out, and a thought coursed through me.
Things weren’t going to get better with my mother, so why not follow in her footsteps. It was like people always said: If you can’t beat them, join them. And just as I was about to place my hand in his, I heard sirens. Both of us gave each other fleeting looks, and took off running in opposite directions. I was halfway down the street when I realized the sirens were following me.
“Shit.” I said to myself, and pushed myself faster.
Just as I was about to cram myself into an alley way, the car swerved in front of me. I tried to hop over the car, but steely hands clasped me.
“Mary, what do you think you’re doing?” said a man’s voice.
I twisted and writhed in his arms until I was facing him.
“How the hell do you know my name?”
His hands dropped, and he appeared a little taken aback.
“Because I’m your father.”
My heart leapt up into my throat, and I was temporarily stunned into silence. He took the opportunity to get me in the cop car and slammed the door shut. I heard him exchange words with the driver, and I noticed that his voice was very tense and angry.
“I want her in jail tonight!” He said with a feverish attitude.
A few moments later, he settled in the back of the car with me. I stared at him like he was some new exotic animal at the zoo. And through my fury and confusion I noticed that he looked like me. He was young. It surprised me; I had always thought that my father might be a slightly more sophisticated version of Frank. He had the same shade of dark, brown hair, and he had the exact same v line in between his eyes as I do when I am furious about something. His eyes told a different story. They were not blue, but a dark cold brown that showed a numerous amount of bleakness of happiness. It was that trait that made me snap back to my senses. The cop car was driving steadily down the road, and then past my subdivision.
“Where are you taking me?” I asked him, and I coughed because of how raspy and weak my voice sounded.
He glanced down at me, and studied my face for a long time before resuming his sit in silence.
This only made me more furious. “Look dude,” I started, but he held up a finger and pointed it in my face.
“I am not a “dude”. You will not refer to me as that.”
“Well as far as I’m concerned you’re no father either, so I’m at a loss of what to call you.” I said my voice cold and chilling.
He looked taken aback, and I was glad to see he looked flustered with the next couple of words.
I snorted. After all of these years, I had expected my mother’s sperm donor to be some sort of a prince charming, but instead she went and got herself knocked up with a guy named Vincent. Typical.
“Back there,” I said, nodding behind us. “You said you wanted her in jail. My mother. Why?”
“She’s unstable,” He said while he still faced forward.
“So you throw her to the wolves when she needs help.” I stated.
He glanced down at me again, and this time he looked confused.
“You’d rather go back to her while she’s like that?”
I opened my mouth to retaliate, but nothing came out. He had a point, but I wanted her to get help, not end up in a jail cell.
“Look we have a lot to discuss, but we’ll talk when were home.” He said as if irritated by my questions.
“Yeah which reminds me that you passed it about twenty minutes ago; where are you taking me?”
“You are going to come live with me in California.”
I scoffed. “Do you really think that after thirteen years you can just swoop in and take me home without an explanation?”
Again he did not answer. My face turned a burning red.
“Just drop me off in foster care, I’ve stayed there before.” I muttered mostly to myself, but he overheard.”
“Your…er… friend thought it might be best if you went with me.” He replied shortly.
“What friend?” I asked, my head snapping as I looked to his face.
He waved his hand impatiently. “Some guy named Hank.”
I sighed inwardly. Frank. If I ever saw him again, I would kill him.
“Well, he’s wrong.” I said quietly, and we drove the rest of the way in silence.
Our plane landed just as the sun was rising, and I stumbled unsteadily out of the plane. That had been my first ever plane ride, and I prayed to God that I would never have to fly again. Vincent hadn’t made the flight any better by taking his phone out every five seconds to reply to a text message, or answering his phone in quiet whispers. He grabbed his bag, and began walking very quickly without taking a glance at me. I struggled to keep up with him. As we made our way outside, I saw a huge limo complete with a well-dressed driver. I was even more in awe when my dad walked right up to the driver, and said something to him. The driver nodded, and then looked back at me and smiled.
“C’mon” my dad said ushering me forward.
The driver opened the door, and my father slid in. I got in right behind him, and scooted myself as far away from him as possible. We rode in silence, only hearing the cars, and trucks rolling by.
“Are you hungry?” He asked quietly.
Now that I thought about it, I was hungry, but I shook my head.
He cleared his throat.
“You should go shopping once we get home. You’ll need clothes ad books for school,” He said awkwardly.
Ha. School? He must’ve been joking.
But I bit my tongue.
We pulled up at a huge house.
“Is this a stop?” I asked him, choking on my fears.
He nodded and gave a hard laugh.
“Yes, our stop.”
The house had a similar resemblance to the White House.
Oh great. Moving from the slums to Beverly Hills.
“What do you do for a living?” I asked as the driver opened my door for me.
I meant for the comment to sound hostile and cold, but it came out as actually interested.
“I work as an attorney.”
“Oh, so you do that Law and Order shit,” I said as we walked up the huge steps.
“Hey,” He said grabbing my arm and making me jump.
“What?” I yelled yanking my arm out.
“I don’t allow profanity in my household.”
Oh. Rules. This was going to be new.
“Whatever,” I muttered.
He opened the door, and I prepared myself for the revealing.
Nope, it still shocked me. A crystal chandler hung luxuriously from the ceiling matching well with the marble tiled floors.
“Vinny!” I high pithed voice screeched. I saw a glimpse of blonde, bouncy hair before it collided with Vincent. They hugged for a long time before he drew her back. Then I really got a look at her. She was very young and thin with blonde curls falling passed her shoulders. She looked like she could be the spokesperson for trident gum, and her red dress clung too tight to her body.
“And who might this be?” She said in her still high pitched voice.
Oh great. And I thought it was an act, but no, that’s her actual voice.
“God help me now.” I muttered quietly.
She only smiled more widely and turned to Vincent, who drew an arm around me.
“This is Mary,” He said grinning to her. “Mary, this is Katie.”
I groaned, and tugged out of his grip.
“My name’s Rocket,” I said coldly to her.
She giggled in a way that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
“And where did you get that lovely nickname?”
I hitched a huge fake smile on my face and imitated her to a T.
“From like running from the cops like every other day!”
She stopped smiling immediately.
I looked up to see Vincent glaring down at me. Katie smoothed her dress uncomfortably and cleared her throat.
“Well, I sure do hope that’s not the case anymore.”
I stared at her and shook my head and allowed an airy chortle to escape my lips.
“Kicked the habit. Now I’m down here with my new best friend Vincent, and his super young girlfriend,” I waved my hands in the air dramatically. “What a fairy tale ending.”
Vincent made to grab for me, but I was already halfway up the stairs. “And they all lived happily ever after!” I yelled.
I wasn’t really sure where I was going, but I just kept walking down the hall pausing at every room to see which one looked fit to be mine. I finally came across a room that looked more for a teenage girl. It was huge, and the walls were a dim pink. The room was complete with a sitting area and TV as well as a walk in closet. There was also a window that led out to a pretty big balcony with a view of California. The bed was fancy looking with dozens of embroidered pillows laying in its wake. A long canopy hung over it and I grunted and tore it off. I kicked it to the corner and flopped onto the bed thinking to myself that if this was supposed to be my fairy tale ending, hell was nothing to comparison.
My eyes opened to a dark room and I slowly lifted my head off the huge bed. The moonlight streamed through my room from the balcony. I had slept through the whole day. I was about to close my eyes again when I heard angry voices down stairs. I quietly walked to the top of the stairs and crouched against the wall.
“When you told me about your past life, you never mentioned a daughter Vincent!” Katie said firmly.
He shushed her.
“Katie, I never imagined that this would get so bad. Lily…” He paused and both Katie and mines breathes hitched. It was so weird to hear my mother’s name coming out of his mouth. Their relationship seemed so foreign and distant. Almost as if they were strangers.
“I never imagined her mother would get this bad.” He said quickly.
“And how bad are we actually talking about?” Katie asked in a snooty tone.
“She was just about to sell herself to some sleaze off the street Katie.”
I froze and there was a slight pause between them both.
“How close?” She spat at him.
“Too close Katie!” He yelled at her. We both jumped.
After a moment she sniffed and primped at her hair.
“Well, I expect this little situation should be figured out by Christmas.”
“Katie...” He reached out for her.
She swatted at his hand.
“No Vincent! I don’t want to have to deal with this!”
She lowered her voice and stepped closer to him; wrapping a hand around the back of his neck.
“Let’s not forget Vinny, I’m young. And I can go anywhere to get what I need. So you need to take care of it, and take care of it quickly.” She pivoted on her feet and the clunk of her heels sounded against the marble floor as he walked away.
Vincent hung his head in defeat and for a split second I felt bad for him, but then I remembered that he wasn’t the victim and in this case neither was I. It was my mother that was paying the price for his decision, and with that thought in mine I came from out of my hiding place.
“I’m going out,” I said while purposely striding to the door.
Vincent had a fleeting look of shock and then the same businessman I had encountered earlier came back.
“And where do you think you’re going?” He said coldly, a half step behind me.
I didn’t answer but instead opened the door. A hand came from behind me and slammed the door shut.
I turned to see him glaring down at me. “Out where?” He repeated more icily.
“Out.” I said and tried to open the door once more.
Vincent reached out to lock the door and turned to stand against it like he was guarding some type of prison cell.
“Look, I don’t know how things used to go when you were with your mother. But in this house we’re going to have to set down some ground rules.”
I rolled my eyes and decided to humor him, “Okay shoot.”
“Number one,” He stated. “No drinking alcohol.”
I made a tusk sound but I could care less about alcohol or any other types of drugs. I’d seen what they can do to people.
He waited for some other sort of outburst from me before he continued.
“Number two,” He said. “No staying out past nine o’clock on weekends and six o’clock on weekdays.”
“Bullshit.” I spat him.
“Number three no profanity,” His eye brows furrowed and his face turned red. “What’s the matter with you Mary? I’d think you’d be a little more grateful. If I hadn’t of-
I cut him off. “Thank you? You want me to thank you?” At this point I was screaming at the top of my lungs. “For what, not being there for thirteen years? For seeing my mom need help and leaving her for some slut gold digger!”
I heard the slap before I felt it. My hand reached up to cup my face and I looked to see a dazed Vincent against the wall.
“Mary,” His voice was shaky and apologetic. “Mary, I’m so sorry.” He walked towards me with an outstretched arm.
“Don’t touch me!” I yelled at him and darted for the door. He didn’t try to stop me as I opened the door and ran outside. I didn’t stop running as I left the porch. And I was running I did something that I had done in a long, long time. I cried.
© Copyright 2016 Alexandria Henry. All rights reserved.