I awake to a sudden crash in the living room. I glance at the clock, its 5:30 in the morning and I don’t have to be up for another hour, at least. My eyes slowly flutter open as I hear another crash, this time a bottle. I realize that Mom must be up. Pulling back the covers, I slide out of bed. As I walk into the living room, the stench of alcohol hits my nostrils. I see a plate, smashed on the floor with remnants of last night’s broccoli casserole strewn about, the bottle beside it. Mom is in the kitchen. I walk in to her searching in the pantry. “Mom, what are you looking for?” I ask. She continues to rummage in the pantry, “Where is that damn dust pan?” her words slurring together. I sigh, “That is the pantry, the broom and dust pan are in the hallway closet.” She keeps looking. “Mom, just go to bed, I’ll clean it up.” I tell, but she ignores me. I walk up behind her and place a hand on her shoulder. She jerks around suddenly, her face just inches from mine. Her breath reeks of alcohol as she grits her teeth at me and says, “Look, kid, I am a grown woman, I can handle problems on my own. You don’t owe me anything, Anna. Just go to your room.” I can taste the alcohol coming off her breath as I inhale deeply, slowly turning away. I pause a second and look hard into her eyes, searching, before I completely turn around and head back to me room.
Nothing has been the same since Jake died. A year ago, everything would have been great. I wouldn’t be forced to start attending public school. Mom wouldn’t be wasting away, using any form of alcohol she could find to fill the gaping hole left by the absence of my so-called father and dead brother. Jake would be here. But I am going to public school, Mom is always drunk, and Jake, Jake is gone. Mom chooses to block it out, but I relive that night, every night in my dreams. It’s the same every time, too.
It’s late August, just a week before public school would start, and I’m walking home from a late night study group that the home-school group held every Friday night, I only lived 10 minutes from the library. I cross the street and hear someone yelling down an alley up ahead of me. I keep walking, knowing that I should avoid the alley and take the long way home. But it’s chilly outside and I want to get home. As I cautiously cross the alley, I hold my breath. Everything is fine. I keep walking, my house is only a few blocks away, but I hear something behind me. I don’t want to turn around, my heart is racing. I wish to myself that I had taken my cell phone like Mom had asked. Just two more blocks, I feel a little more reassured, when suddenly, I am stopped cold. I can feel ah hand pressed against my mouth, something sharp jabbing in my side. I try to glance down, but the hand won’t allow my head to move. I feel hot breath against my ear and neck, as a raspy voice, I can only assume is male demands that I hand over any money that I have. I begin to cry, murmuring into his hand that I don’t have any money. I hear another commotion behind me, when the sharp object slices down my side and the side of my leg. I fall to the ground. Everything happens so fast, that I cannot remember what happens after that. All I see is Jake on the ground with a knife sticking out of his chest, blood all around him and the attacker running away. This is when I awake, always.
Like I said, that was a year ago. I was fifteen and Jake was 18. He was supposed to go away for college but he didn’t even get to graduate his senior year. Mom cannot cope. She doesn’t know what else to do but drown her sorrows in the cheapest bottle of whiskey or vodka. My problems are the dreams, sometimes I don’t even want to sleep. Mom used to home-school me, but now in her drunken stupor, she is clearly incapable. She moved us to some small town, away from my friends and whatever omen she supposes we left behind. Now, I have to go to public school. I have to work, too. It’s not like Mom would be able to hold a job. I pay for the house, although she doesn’t appreciate it. What can I expect?
I sit and wait in my room, pondering all these thoughts for the next hour. Finally, the clocks gleams 6:45. I take a shower, allowing the water to wash away the stench of alcohol that comes with living in the same house as my mother. I get out of the shower and wrap the nearest towel around my body. I slowly wipe away the steam from the mirror, and take a long, deep look at myself. I take in my long, wavy, blonde hair and stare into my intense blue eyes. I notice how they contrast against my tanned skin. I sigh, as I walk into my room and ponder what I should wear on my first day of public school. I open my closest and am sure that nothing in it would be suitable. The time passes when I realize I haven’t much more time. I decide on a pair of jeans and two simple, layered tank tops. I figure that you can’t go wrong with plain, when all you want is to get through the next year quickly and unnoticed. After I dress, I go to Mom’s room. She’s passed out on her bed and there isn’t a thing that could wake her. I cover her with a blanket and move on to her bathroom. I go through her cabinet and find some makeup. I’ve never used makeup, but I’ve seen Mom do it, I figure it can’t be too hard. I apply a simple layer powdered foundation, allowing it to even out my skin. I look at my eyes and know that they are big enough, and decide a couple sweeps of mascara is sufficient. I hear my phone go off, I know that I need to go or I’ll be late. I grab my shoulder bag and find the keys to my car. I rush out to the car and drive off to school.
*More to come*
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