She Came Undone

“ A novel about Rita? Its very ambitious, you sure? That could bring up a lot of emotional history, don’t feel you have to do this for the publishers, they can wait” Silence is my worst enemy. “Are you ok?”

“ Don’t worry about me James… I’m Ummm worried enough… Yes, I need you to stop by her house, make sure... ah, she’s still eating.”

“ Sam, what if...”

“ Please! She’s not answering the phone again” when I don’t think its easier.

“ I’m coming to get you” He hangs up

“ No.” Dead air reminds me of my mother and I listen just in case. Nothing.

It’s about an hours long drive from his office to my apartment on the west end of Vancouver and then another two-hour drive from my studio to the condo James had rented for us in Whistler; we were getting away, James was endlessly planning vacations for us, to get away.  ‘From what?’ I’d ask though I knew the answer. I reluctantly packed a small bag and convinced James to let me stop by my mother’s house on our way out.

When we pulled up all the lights were off, I rang the bell then realized she was not going to answer just because we rang. It always seemed wrong to have a key but James unlocked the door and we walked through the foyer.


“Look Rita, I know your home and we have to say were not impressed with your behavior” He was always so in control and forward, we walked into her study and under the mess of papers a women appeared, her eyes darting.


James picks her up and walks her in to the kitchen, a smile appears under the caked makeup. “Jaimesy… you’re so good for my Sammy”

“Have you been drinking?”


“When’s the last time Dr. Reinhardt was by here?” turning to me, I haven’t moved since we walked into the kitchen, I feel the smell coming off the walls “Call the doctor... Have you been taking your meds Rita?”

“Yes sir.” A giggle “every last one…”

“Look we cannot keep coming over here to save your tush… where are they?” then it began, just as I remember them, like a banshee wailing, her screams.  “We are not here to hurt you” tilts her face up; he learnt this from my many episodes. It hurts me to watch him.

The life of James Allen is based in control, he has always been in such control, I adore his family but ask myself would I do the same, would I hold his mother if she were here? Or how much love does it take for him to still be here?

It has come to the point I cannot stand the noise and reach up for the empty bottle by the fridge, she knows better, I call the doctors cell phone.

“Hello?” I didn’t think about what to say

“Doc… Tor, Mother... my mother is. Its…”

“ Sammy calm down, its OK... What’s happening over there?” I calm down enough to place the words together, I breathe.

“Screaming, She’s gone crazy.” I hold my head, “Why? Her meds ran out.”

“I’m on my way. Listen Sam, do you think she will be OK, she had enough for at least the next few weeks.”

“Yes. I’m Clam, OK” an inside joke

“Stay Clam, Sammy” he laughs and waits for me to hang up first. He knows what its been like and he tries so hard.

In the next room the screaming has become a whimper, I walk in.

“Thanks for the help” his lap is filled with my mother “This isn’t my job. I’m a bloody editor Sam, you should be happy I love you or I’d be out that door”

I knew it! “I love you too.” lifting my mother to her feet I walk her to the table and lift up the bottle. “Where did you put them?”

“Look Rita” he takes the bottle “These are important, you know that”

“I know” eyes darting “I know. I know I know.” looking right at me blank, scary “Shhh, Sammy you can hear it” Silence she sways “the music, the eulogy..."  Serious saddened eyes "My dad died... he was crazy too” She reaches for me, I can't, she's deteriorated so much from the women on the phone three days ago, a whisper "like us"

“I know” I stroke her head “The doctors going to be here… in a few minutes, he’s going to help”

Sitting here with my mother I reflect on my life. I want to say: ‘Mom, you remember when I was seventeen; I had just graduated from high school? You took me back in and told me everything was going to be OK now? Well it wasn’t, I got worse, you went nuts and now I live my life everyday never knowing if you were going to be alive.’ All I could get out was:

“I HATE you”

What a venomous thing to say to your mother, I just told my mother that I hate her and I can’t even think it was a mistake. I love my mother but she is the reason I walk through fire everyday. I get up frustrated and walk to the window. Its cold from the morning frost of late November but I can still see the doctors car if it pulls in, I stand there five minutes.

James leaves my mother on the floor and joins me. “ Sam, this is her fault, but only this” pointing at the bottle, he holds it up, then tapping my head “What’s going on in here is not. I love you” Kissing me, his lips have always been sweet, I smile “but listen she’s had a long time to know better, we can not keep saving her”

“ I know. what… am I going to do?”

“ WE are going to Whistler and WE are going to have fun, because the publishers think it’s going to help if I paid for a fabulous retreat. Figure that one out”

“ Do they know?”

“ I’m sure they do but look,” pointing at the reflection in the window "you need this, three days that’s all I ask”

Turning around to look into his eyes “ Whose going to watch her?”

“She will and I will make sure that doctor of hers pays closer attention to her meds. GOD we live in Canada you’d think we could get adequate health professionals”

From the window I watch as the doctor drives into the shared lot and walks to the door, he has always had keys for this reason but knocks. James answers the door and points to the kitchen.

“When did it start?” the doctor asks

I shrug “Nineteen-Fifty-six”

“Not funny…”

“It's a little funny… look I’m laughing” no smile. “She called three days ago… Grandpas dead”

“God when?”

I look up, James looks shocked “She didn’t tell you?” directed toward the doctor but some how shocked at me.


“She’s in the kitchen, we have to go” Handing Dr Reinhardt the bottle we turn toward the door

“She took them all?”

“Or threw them away” I say as a passing thought toward the door. “Sorry we have to go”

“Don’t be, go have fun, she’ll be fine”

“No she wont” the door closes behind us.

We drive out of town; I can’t stop thinking how we just left her there. “Are you going to leave me like that?”

“If you were stupid enough to get yourself in that condition? maybe” looking straight at me “ But you are not, look at me, I love you, I love your mother more than I should but I can not keep picking everything up. I’m a editor I do what is necessary to get the best result even if that means hurting someone close.” 

“I said I hated her” James hears me but does not confirm, “Do you think it’s true?”


We talk all the way up to the cabin, but not about my mother, I know it’s for my own good.

The End

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