Sucking in a breath of cat-scented air, I guide Mom to her bedroom. My hands are strong on her shoulders, as I am strong. I am a smoothly-finished stone in my mother's life -- the only thing keeping her from drifting away, like a lost balloon.
Mom doesn't remember if she took her pill. I am quite certain that she did not. She's too tired to object, so the little pink tablet goes down easy. She does not, however. Her eyes are pale, shifty and anxious.
"I'm worried about her. That boy. Lauren, I'm afraid of him. He makes me think of... you know I don't want to see his car in my driveway anymore."
"It's okay, Mom. It's just a boy!... You know how they are. And Trisha's got a good head on her shoulders. She knows when to say when." I paused, and smiled encouragingly. "You know Trisha. Well, goodnight, Mom." Somehow, I can't get the image of Trisha's recklessly elated eyes to leave me alone.
"Goodnight." She still looks anxious, but the meds should kick in soon. Now I leave her; haunted, as I am every evening, with the possibility of what could go on inside her while I sleep.