Preview of the Novel: That Better Life
I woke up to a blur. Not being clear of what recently occurred or the last few hours. Wires were connected to my body, my wrist. What happened? My head hurt from trying to remember the last moments before I was checked into the hospital. The room I resided in was empty. Where were my parents? I had a feeling that there were near. They never left me unattended for a long period of time especially if I was in the hospital. Did I have a panic attack again? I’ve been on my medication so this made no sense. My mother entered the room.
“Oh my baby…” she said in tears. I hated it when she cried. My mother was a strong and vibrant young woman who never relieved any negative energy in front of her children. And seeing her cry made me feel horrible because it was my doing.
“Mom…” I said. “I’m sorry…” She reached for my hand, gripping it tightly.
“It’s okay sweetie. You’re okay and that’s all that matters.” The doctor walked in with my chart.
“Alex, how are you feeling today?” Doctor Torrez said.
“I can’t seem to remember anything. How I got here, what happened seems to be so unclear”
“This is the medication that is affecting your head. But don’t worry in a few days you’ll remember everything. You seem to be doing great, your blood pressure is normal and so is your heart rate. Just remember to take your medication every day. ”
“When can she leave?” mom said.
“You can take her home now.”
“Thank you Doctor Torrez.” Mom got under from my side and went to hug Doctor Torrez.
“It’s my pleasure.”
“You hear that honey? You get to go home! Oh, your father will be so happy--”
“How did I get here?” I asked. This question has been replaying in my head since I had woken up.
“Your father drove you here”
“No, I mean why am I here?”
“Sweetie, you pasted out today”
“I passed out...That’s not right, I took my medications. I did everything right…”
“Ohh I know honey” She came at sat at my side. “It’s okay.”
She smoothed my hair back repeatedly as she spoke. She used to do this was when I was little, when I was sick.
“You’ve been so busy lately with work and maybe you forgo-”
“No, no, no I didn’t forget! I never forget! This is- this is my life at stake here I could never forget” I shook my head. This can’t be. I refuse to believe that I had forgotten. Tears started to form. I knew what this meant. My mother and Tom were living pay check to pay check. We didn’t have insurance to pay for this. Once again me and my sickness was a burden to my already broke family.
“It’s okay honey”
“No! I don’t remember what happened, I don’t remember…” As the doctor left the room, I sat up and started to dress. I knew what was next. I have been to the hospital over 10 times in the last two months. My mother and Tom couldn’t afford to pay the medical bills so we would always slip out before giving our addresses. A few times the hospitals we went to were pretty private so slipping out were harder than usual. Most of the time we leave without any traces, but there were few exceptions that we had to give in an address so that they can bill us for the visit. Let’s just say we never received a bill.
“You get your memory back soon enough. Don’t you worry honey, your father and I wi-”
“He’s not my father. Stop saying that. Stop saying that that he’s my father because he’s not. He was not my father yesterday or the day before that or the day before that and he sure is hell not my father so just stop. Just stop. My father, my real father is dead, he died and now he’s dead so Tom will never be my father.”
I pulled my skinny jeans up as well as my oxfords and my loose fitted shirt ready to leave the hospital sooner than later. I hated hospitals. People are always so nice and they ask a lot of questions. For normal people, they wouldn’t be bothered to the slightest bit but my so called “family” was far from normal. To think about it, after my father died when I was 6, there hasn’t been a normal. Back then I thought my family was perfect. It was my mother, father and I, one little happy family. We have never been wealthy, but were stable. But now, we’re… I don’t know what we are but we’re just not normal or ordinary. We struggle for the simplest things in life. That is not normal. That is far from normal.
My mother’s lips pressed firmer together as she lifted up her hand a slapped me across the face bursting the bubble of pure thoughts that I was drowning in.
“Tom has provided for us. He gave us a roof over our heads, more food than we have ever had in years.”
“By doing what?” I replied. “Mom he is a fugitive, he has being running from the law long before he met you. He is bringing his troubles to us. We are going to get caught and then thrown in jail.” My mother was in denial. The problem was that she loved him so much that his pass, his filthy pass didn’t even matter.
“He is a good man. All he asks for you is to call him you father.”
“He is a rapist, a stealer a liar a cheater and the list goes on and on”
Once again her hand got in contact with my face. We stood inches away from each other as she held my chin aggressively.
“Don’t be spreading those lies about him raping you. He did nothing to you so stop with your lying. I can’t take it anymore!”
As she headed for the door, I called out for the woman standing in front of me that was supposed to be my mother.
“Don’t” she said quietly. “Just don’t. Let’s just get out of here before we get caught. Your father is wanting for us.”
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