A random childhood memory

The summer air was pungent in my nostrils when the car stopped in front of a house I had never seen before. Then my father got out, opened my door, and I remember vividly how heavy that lilac was in the air. In the same breath the very moment my feet hit the gravel of our new driveway, I ran as fast as I could toward that great fluffy purple tree in the back corner of the garden.

The pillowy blooms were glowing from the sun. It was hot, and I shielded my eyes as I looked up at all the blooms oscillating in the breeze. There were so many shades of purple. Speckles of white under the black finger like branches beneath. Deep amethyst hiding in the shadows.

I was mesmerized and infatuated from that moment forward.

The rest of the summer I would spend my afternoons siting underneath it till the sun set as I read. As a young girl with the beauty of words between my hands I didn’t need friends around me. I disconnected and lost myself in worlds that didn’t exist. In the possibility of dragons and boys whose kisses made toes tingle. Alive in worlds where babysitters solved crimes, and where girls like me changed the world.

The lilac tree stood tall

Childhood holding its roots

My cat with ears nicked from scrapping

The front lawn in all its glory

My garden with red rhubarb

My dog

Picking lilacs, the way they would bloom, the scent

Placing them on my mother’s bedside table

Only to see them in the garden the next day

Knowing she never loved me

Sunlight, summer breeze

Then it was gone

Excerpt Chapter 10:

**She’s remembering her second time and getting lost in her own thoughts as she sits in her car while trying to track down a man named Robert Negro – A convicted rapist and murderer whos “done his time”  She find herself down the street from his house late in the evening**

He told me he loved me, and when we stopped I was finally able to tell him that I loved him too. That’s where the boy meets girl fantasy ends. A coldness filled the car as he moved away from me to zip up his jeans and hop in the front seat.

I started to get dressed in the silence.

As I was putting my jeans back on and slipping my feet back into my shoes, he started the car. The next twenty minutes he said nothing to me until we pulled in my driveway. Then with a kiss on my cheek, and a pat on my leg he said,

“That was fun and you’re a sweet girl, but on Monday when we’re at school, we don’t know each other. “

 

 

Monday came, and I was just same old me. He didn’t acknowledge me, he didn’t even look at me when I said hello. I didn’t have a boyfriend anymore; I just had another dirty secret. I never wanted to be that girl but now I was. My friends tried to console me and assure me that all men are dogs.

That day I ate lunch in a bathroom stall.

I still don’t know if I can do it. Roberto Negro shouldn’t be able to come home to a warm bed. He shouldn’t be able to stand in his kitchen and make a meal, or a cup of coffee. He shouldn’t be allowed to cut the grass in his yard or go grocery shopping.

Yet here he was.

He was living

Existing

Breathing

Shitting

Having a beer

Ordering take out

Walking into his home

Enjoying a warm bed

And she

Lifeless

The world is supposed to accept him because he served his time and paid his debt to society. Apparently “justice” in this country means ten years is a fair exchange for the life of a young girl. Sipping on my coffee I decided right then and there, that he wasn’t going to make it through the end of the week alive. I got that feeling again. The heat from my head to my toes.

It was orgasmic.

I looked up over the dash and saw that the couple that were just back from getting pizza, were still outside.

 

The woman was standing at the door fumbling with her keys, and her husband who now had his head down texting as he walked, came to her aid as slowly as possible. As the lights flicked on in the house I could hear an argument.

Who are you texting?

None of your business

A couple of drawers slam closed

You’re practically a zombie!

A door slams twice

All you do is fucking nag!

Nag, nag, nag

A glass breaks

Then after an hour or so

Lights out

It’s quiet by the time I see another car pass by and pull into Roberto’s driveway.

Everything from my head to my toes running cold. My arms rippled with goosebumps as I looked at my hands again. “You remember what Roberto did, you can do this” I told myself.

I hit the steering wheel

That smug look on his face

Getting groceries from the back

His cheap fucking case of Coors Light in one hand

Filthy jeans

Unshaven

Dirty hands

I’m sure he worked on cars of or something

 

Crud under his nails

A short while later he left the house, got in his piece of shit car and left. I followed with no idea where we were headed, and I was careful as I drove behind him. My brain couldn’t reconcile that he lived in such an idyllic little neighborhood. The streets had mature trees, and every lawn was well kept. It made me even more infuriated as I passed houses with twinkly lights on their porches and couples enjoying what I assumed were cold drinks. Maybe lemonade or a nice cabernet.

The girl her took, her last memories were his face.

Not cool nights on porches

No cold beers

No stolen kisses

No butterflies in her stomach

No coming home late

His scent all around her with the last rise and fall of her chest

The smell of lilacs wafted though the window as we stopped at an intersection near what looked like Main St. I thought to myself, that someone must have a bush in their garden nearby.

He told me he loved me, and when we stopped I was finally able to tell him that I loved him too. That’s where the boy meets girl fantasy ends. A coldness filled the car as he moved away from me to zip up his jeans and hop in the front seat.

I started to get dressed in the silence.

As I was putting my jeans back on and slipping my feet back into my shoes, he started the car. The next twenty minutes he said nothing to me until we pulled in my driveway. Then with a kiss on my cheek, and a pat on my leg he said,

“That was fun and you’re a sweet girl, but on Monday when we’re at school, we don’t know each other. “

Monday came, and I was just same old me. He didn’t acknowledge me, he didn’t even look at me when I said hello. I didn’t have a boyfriend anymore; I just had another dirty secret. I never wanted to be that girl but now I was. My friends tried to console me and assure me that all men are dogs.

That day I ate lunch in a bathroom stall.

I still don’t know if I can do it. Roberto Negro shouldn’t be able to come home to a warm bed. He shouldn’t be able to stand in his kitchen and make a meal, or a cup of coffee. He shouldn’t be allowed to cut the grass in his yard or go grocery shopping.

Yet here he was.

He was living

Existing

Breathing

Shitting

Having a beer

Ordering take out

Walking into his home

Enjoying a warm bed

And she

Lifeless

The world is supposed to accept him because he served his time and paid his debt to society. Apparently “justice” in this country means ten years is a fair exchange for the life of a young girl. Sipping on my coffee I decided right then and there, that he wasn’t going to make it through the end of the week alive. I got that feeling again. The heat from my head to my toes.

It was orgasmic.

I looked up over the dash and saw that the couple that were just back from getting pizza, were still outside.

The woman was standing at the door fumbling with her keys, and her husband who now had his head down texting as he walked, came to her aid as slowly as possible. As the lights flicked on in the house I could hear an argument.

Who are you texting?

None of your business

A couple of drawers slam closed

You’re practically a zombie!

A door slams twice

All you do is fucking nag!

Nag, nag, nag

A glass breaks

Then after an hour or so

Lights out

It’s quiet by the time I see another car pass by and pull into Roberto’s driveway.

Everything from my head to my toes running cold. My arms rippled with goosebumps as I looked at my hands again. “You remember what Roberto did, you can do this” I told myself.

I hit the steering wheel

That smug look on his face

Getting groceries from the back

His cheap fucking case of Coors Light in one hand

Filthy jeans

Unshaven

Dirty hands

I’m sure he worked on cars of or something

Crud under his nails

A short while later he left the house, got in his piece of shit car and left. I followed with no idea where we were headed, but as careful as I drove behind him. I couldn’t reconcile that he lived in such an idyllic little neighborhood. The streets had mature trees, and every lawn was well kept. It made me even more infuriated as I passed houses with twinkly lights on their porches and couples enjoying what I assumed were cold drinks. Maybe lemonade or a nice cabernet.

The girl he took, her last memories were his face.

Not cool nights on porches

No cold beers

No stolen kisses

No butterflies in her stomach

No coming home late

His scent all around her with the last rise and fall of her chest

The smell of lilacs wafted though the window as we stopped at an intersection near what looked like Main St. I thought to myself, that someone must have a bush in their garden nearby.

There was one in my garden as a child.

When my mother passed away

Trigger warning: The following piece contains detailed description of death, alcoholism, suicide and child abuse. This is a true personal story.

When I went to identify my mother’s body in the funeral home I opened the sealed envelope that contained her autopsy report. She was found at 9:09 a.m., November 15th, 2007. It was her birthday.

Her name was Patricia Ann and she was forty-nine years old. She was found in bed holding a picture of me with her left hand; reaching for the phone on her nightstand with her right. Her long hair was matted from having vomited as she lay on her side. Nostrils, right and left were crusted with blood. She was found to be wearing pink undergarments and a flowered nightgown. Her nails were clean and painted but had her own skin under them. There were no signs of struggle, but three long scratch marks on her cheek they say are evidence of seizure activity.

Eleven gallon jugs were found in her room. Two next to her bed with lemonade and vodka in them. The investigator noted the pungent smell of alcohol in the room. He described it as inescapable in almost every corner except for her dresser where she kept her perfumes. In the process of her body letting go, she had soiled her sheets and on the floor were empty bottles of Xanax and paroxetine. Next to her in bed was a blister pack of an antihistamine; emptied of the twelve tablets it had contained. Cause of death they stated: suicide with liver cirrhosis as a secondary comorbid factor.

White knuckled and clutching the autopsy report I rocked in my seat with my eyes closed. I was numb head to toe. My insides began to churn and the only thing I could do to stay off the floor was to recite the only passage from the bible I’d remembered since I was a little girl,

Revelation 21
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.

There was only one time before this that I’d said it aloud; to my father as he lay near death while in the hospital. He wanted nothing to do with priests providing him his last rights.

Looking at my mother now in this small dark room that passage took on new meaning for me. I wouldn’t have to cry anymore waiting for an apology that would never come. I wouldn’t have to wonder why she hated me. I wouldn’t have to hear her tell me again how my being born was a mistake.

There were no fairytales here.

I wasn’t one of those girls losing her best friend, the family wasn’t losing their matriarch and I wasn’t going to spend the next ten years remembering her on the anniversary of her death. There were no shopping trips to remember, no late-night talks, and there wouldn’t be a hole in my life without her daily calls. We hardly spoke and yet somehow laying her to rest was my responsibility.

I resented her.

Even in death I was still picking up the messes she left in her wake.
In that moment, the cloud of anger cleared and gave me complete clarity, and I tried to leave the room but the door wouldn’t open. Twisting the knobs didn’t work because somehow, they’d locked the preparation room accidentally.

I turned and walked towards her till my fingertips were resting on the satin of her casket. It felt cold and slick against my skin. I didn’t pity her. I didn’t wish I could hear her voice one more time. All I could think about was that the monster under my bed was finally gone.

As I stood there I studied the threads and colors in the wool suit they chose for her. The buttons were shiny, and her fingers were interlocked on her lower stomach. Her hair was pulled so tightly into a bun it had caused the corners of her mouth to turn up into a smile. It reminded me of the same smile that would come across her face before she’d unleash a tirade when I was little. The jewelry that meant so much to her in life was neatly placed on two of her fingers. One of the rings my father had sold some of his prized possessions to get for her.

I wanted to pry it off her cold dead finger.

All at once the anger quieted inside me. The reality that her chest wasn’t rising and falling caused the breath to catch in my own. A rich mixture of lilies and dust fought in the air with the musk of her favorite perfume. It was all around me as the ventilation system kicked on and so I closed my eyes once again, inhaling deeply to steady myself…

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