A flash fiction piece about a young woman's struggle with her relationship with her mother, her past and her own demons.

Part 1

Headlights collide with heartbreak. Peach and grey sunset. Pedal to the floor. Bones aching. Hands yearning to turn the wheel. I can’t go back. Don’t ever. One last time. Goodbye.

#

Neon lights through raindrops. A blue motel. Mom ushers us inside. Headlights flickering. She’s at the window watching for his drunken stumble, fists breaking the door, then her. Us three kids packed into a beat-up car. I remember thinking: Keep going. Don’t go back. (But she did.)

I inherited her brown hair and earthy eyes. Her compulsion for long drives. Nightfall. Empty roads. Empty home. Sorrow for life unfulfilled. I resent her. Yet we’re more alike than I’ll admit. It wrecks me. Where is that little girl picking wildflowers for Mom? I changed my clothes and personality. Dyed my hair red. Hard to recognize in the rearview mirror.

But I’ve still got her eyes.

I keep going back.

#

Not this time. Scent of lilacs. Moonlight spilling mirror shards across the highway. I’m driving as fast as I can. Waiting.

Headlights. Breathless. Staring at the yellow line. Tires humming. Accelerating. Tears soaking my face. This is it. Wreck me.

The semi roars by. I turn into the other lane. Into nothing.

It’s all I have.

#

Gas station coffee and cigarettes. I’m more my mother on bad days. Nicotine and caffeine. Grey smoke billowing. Auburn and violet sunset. Yellow flowers. Wind rippling green silk fields. Music so loud I can’t think. I drive until I’m fucking crazy. Tattered butterfly.

Die or leave.

#

I sit wrapped in a blue blanket atop a mountain. Emptiness. Space between my mother and who I am. I find myself alone. I still have her eyes. I always will. But out here, I scream and recompose. Some call this loneliness. I call it… freedom.

 

Part 2

 

A highway going somewhere. Yellow flowers in the ditch. Exquisite. Abandoned. Forgotten.

He knew my father was dead. That Mom struggled to make ends meet. Instead of being a father figure, he slow-dripped poison down our throats until I resented her. This is what he wanted.

For that, he gets my hatred. Deep-seeded. Poison.

I was innocent. And he wrecked me.

#

He didn’t deserve my mother’s love. She was lively, fun-loving.  Would do anything for anyone. Now she’s emotionally unavailable and crippled with anxiety 17 years later. She’s still in that car on the dark highway somewhere, running from him. She’s the wide eyes in his headlights as he crashed into her, obliterated her.

It isn’t her fault, why the family is broken. It’s his. 16 years after the burning the house down, he called her to re-instill that fear because he gets off on this power and control. I see him now. I’m not a scared child anymore. I’m 32 fucking years old. And I am furious.

She was innocent. And he wrecked her.

#

Sometimes I wonder how much of a dream come true you must have looked like to weasel your way into the life of a woman so independent, loving and strong. Her, widowed, raising three kids. You, hiding your narcissistic sociopathy. Wearing a mask. Love bombing until you scorched her to smithereens.

Then you turned on me.

#

There I was. Fourteen. Standing before the house, in ashes. Residual smoke like grey wisps from an ashtray. Unable to breathe. You thought we were home. You slithered your way into this family, destroyed us, cackling while watching the house burn.

I still drown in this poison.

That semi I nearly drove into to end me – it resembled the way you came into our lives. I’m still standing there looking for the tail lights. In case you aren’t really gone.

 

Part 3

 

Neon lights. Another pub. Loud music. Escape. Another man smiles my way. I die inside. I don’t think I can love again. This heart is like daisy petals on the wind. Unlovable. Untamed. Unworthy. I might laugh like a dream come true.

But I’ll wreck you.

#

I don’t think anyone in this family have left that darkened highway Mom took us down. Seeking a light. The refuge of that motel. I’ve since had a soul for places I’ve never seen. Roadside motels. Street signs. A vagabond life. Always running from something. From him.

Motionless on a one-way street. A distant dawn tinging the horizon gold. Demonic shadows of night beyond tail lights. Somewhere in between, I remain with my mother. Wrecked in different ways but too damn similar and stubborn to speak of it. A wedge he forever left stuck beneath a flat tire. And there’s no one around to help.

I keep driving.

#

I sped down a pitch-black road without headlights, pedal to the floor, awaiting self-destruction that never came. Desolation. Emptiness. Cigarette smoke curling around me. A cold gas station coffee. No idea where I was. I stopped to stand on the road and scream.

Only echoes came back.

#

I had not even an angel to pull me back. No one wandered through that with me. Stumbling blind, sometimes drunk enough to remain numbed to self-sabotage. I can still hear the roaring of the semi passing me by the same way I can still hear him screaming and throwing her around. Down the stairs. Against walls. Wildflowers withered without the sun. Limp. Pathetic. Lonely.

I still see the raging glint in his eyes. His fists clenched. I can hear a slamming door when I just knew it was starting again.

There seemed to be no end.

#

I don’t know for how long I remained there. On my knees. Shrouded in the darkness he left. Starved. Aching. Too numb to cry. Disconnected. Detached. No one was coming back for me. Not even to finish wrecking me.

 

Part 4

Strength is supposedly in our roots. Can even poisoned roots provide somewhere to grow from?

#

A friend once told me, after her break up, she wished she was as strong as me. I said no, you don’t. You don’t want to endure what I did to get this way. I should have been safe as a child. Instead, I had to be silent – or die.

It made you this tough, the trauma, people tell me. It’s simply not true. I made me. I raised that little girl. No one left me a choice.  I walked back from that crippling agony and madness, blinded by darkness. No direction. No guardian. Only a wreckage and my own two feet.

I’ll never go back.

#

You see, strength doesn’t come from trauma. Strength isn’t conditional on how devastatingly you’ve been broken. I break. I collapse to my kitchen floor, crying. Sometimes I find the bottom of a bottle to drown once more. Other times, I drive until I’m crazy again.

You shouldn’t have to face down a semi on a darkened road or hide your kids in a motel room to be called strong. My friend was a wreck after that break up. But it didn’t destroy her. She found love again. As for me…

#

I have a long time until love might grace me once more. I choose alone. Closing off the world. A glass house. Outside, looking in, unable to relate or engage. I break things. Hearts. Glasses. I break things so nothing ever breaks me again.

I’ll never go back.

 


Submitted: June 19, 2021

© Copyright 2022 Lavinia Thompson. All rights reserved.

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