It’s late, almost noon, and I’m just getting out of bed. Rolling onto my side, with my hair all bed slept, and in my Runaways shirt and white tights, I walk down the stairs, on my way to food and a quiet house.
I get neither.
I stop in my tracks once I’m in the kitchen, what the fuck? How and why do mothers just wait for you? It makes you feel bad for sleeping in, though I don’t really feel that bad, I feel well rested, and it just makes things awkward, like you can’t look her in the eyes, so I look at the floor, and to the distance in the left.
“Hello Lucille,” she says, and I hate it when she says that. I hate that – Lucille, god, I’m not a hundred and one, I’m seventeen. “How was your night?” She asks, calmly, gulping down the words, she sounds sterile.
“Fine,” I say, I don’t understand this, and I don’t understand her. Her voice is so clear and smooth and just average, when mine is actually deeper than her is, I’m freaking Joan Jett around her, but then again, I smoke. Walking awkwardly, stiffly, I walk around her; she’s sitting on the left side of the counter that’s in the middle of the fridge and kitchen table, with probably her first cup of coffee, that hasn’t been touched at all. Unless fingertips count. I open the fridge, and shake my head at the breakfast I wanted, stale, buttered popcorn and coke, and choose cinnamon pop tarts with milk.
Sitting next to her, she smirks, some life coming back into her eyes.
“Something’s never change,” she says with a smile, and then looks down at the coffee. Does she see things in it? Special designs or words aimed just for her? I knew a guy in Detroit, he came by sometimes, to the apartment, and he acted like that.
“I’m a crazy guy,” he would bark and growl, shaking his head, making his dark blond hair fall in front of his face as he shook his head like a mad man. “Crazy, crazy, I’m a crazy guy,” he snarled, and then leaned back, and I leaned forward, taking a snuff.
“You a deviant one,” he tells me.
“How so?” I ask, leaning back in my chair, my cheek resting in my palm, feeling relaxed now. I don’t know why, but I feel… relaxed, not necessarily safe around Chris, but I feel okay, like I don’t have to hide. I get unveiled.
“'Cause I’m crazy,” he tells me, his head cocked to the left, leaning down, almost on the couch. “Ugh, I’m crazy,” he moans, his hands on his face.
“Is that bad now?”
“No, no, yes, no… Ugh, I don’t know, I don’t know,” he says in a rush. Are his thoughts in a rush? “I see things – naked ladies –“
“That’s porn,” I joke solemnly, but I don’t think he hears it. He doesn’t even smile; his eyes are faraway, serious. I decide to take it serious too. He needs that.
“Guys, too,” he adds. “I see words and lyrics in my mind, in bright, neon letters. I see everything in black and white, or sometimes all pink, and I think, this is normal, this is everyone. This is life. It isn’t though, is it?”
“No,” I answer him. “Not for me, at least,” I add as I look down, playing with my shoe straps.
“Not for anyone, except me,” he says and we sit there, quiet, with quiet ramblings from him once in a while. He doesn’t come back after that, not for two weeks, and then I see him again, he gets me coffee, we meet on the street, after coming home from work, and we talk, sitting on the edge of the sidewalk, across from a gas station and restaurant. We smoke a few cigarettes as well.
“I had a little sister,” he tells me, and I’m not shocked or surprised, he’s told me there was only one woman in his life, to make him feel complete, and that he could never touch her, never love her like he could. My mind goes to incest now, and I’m disgusted and sickened at the thought of it. I think of Carson and Jessica… eeh, ugh, how gross. “She died,” he tells me, and now I grow quiet, letting my cigarette sit in between my fingers. “She didn’t want to die, she was getting milk,” he says and awkwardly laughs. “Decided to get some coke too, you know, the beverage, not the – you know,” I wonder why he can’t say it? Drug.
“They fell from her hands, the milk and the coke, the coke first, I believe, from the tape. This guy was robbing the gas station near our house. I don’t know why, the greedy son of a bitch. He held a knife – a fucking knife to her throat, and god, she must have been so afraid. She was happy though, 'cause the day before I had promised not to kill myself, I had tried before, and that made her sad, but this…. This terrified her, and he didn’t cut her or anything, he let her fall to the floor, after the guy gave him the money, the douche left, and left her there.
She had a seizure, right then and there, and the guy there, the manager who worked there, didn’t know what to do, he called the cops and ambulance, but it had already been a while, so… she died there.”
I doubt mom ever had to deal with anything like that.
“Yeah?” I ask, sitting in my seat so I look at her.
“Yeah, people always leave,” and at first I think about her dad, but grandma doesn’t remember who he was. It was 1969, how was she to know? She tries to act nonchalant about it, which I guess she is, both of them, not just grandma, but I think she loves him, she loves the mystery about him, likes reading all of her old journals, trying to figure him out. “Before I – before I met your dad, I was living with this boyfriend of mine,” she smiles. “We lived… gracefully, we were always on the edge, doing whatever worked, drugs, sex –“
“Oh, mom, I really don’t want to hear this,” I complain. In my mind, my parents sleep in separate bed rooms.
“I need to,” she tells me carefully, with this otherworldly look in her eyes, so I oblige. “I wasn’t just in love with him, Lucille, I was addicted, and I was… heavily dependent on him, and he was just… so care fee.”
“He hurt you,” I assume.
“He left me,” she restates. “Which hurt me very much, I didn’t move out of our apartment, I didn’t have the money, I was barely making rent, and it was one shitty apartment, I’m still surprised by the price.
“Yeah, a hundred and twenty five, most months,” I tell her, and she looks at me weird, kind of surprised, like this was the same for her. “For some piece of crap on Hannigan Avenue,” and her eyes get bigger. “Whoa,” I breathe.
“Whoa,” she agrees, and laughs silently, I chuckle some too. “I met your dad that way,” she tells me after the laughter, with a smile on her face. “I was still living there, barely making ends meet, and he comes up one day, knocks on the door, asked for Dylan, but of course, Dylan wasn’t there, but didn’t leave. I started crying, it was the first person who had come by in a month, I didn’t have many friends, they were all Dylan’s, I knew no one, and no one knew me.”
“That’s how you and dad met?”
“Yes,” she tells me, a look of sadness and content in her eyes, just glistening over.
“No,” I mumble, and she looks up at me. “I’m not – I mean, dad’s mine, right?”
“Yeah, he’s yours.”