I’m doing something different today. I just joined the red dress club which is a blog and forum for women who want to write (like fiction). It’s a great site and really supportive. I highly recommend it if you’re 1) female 2) want to write 3) want to get some great tips and maybe have your work critiqued.
They have a meme. The idea is to write a short fiction piece based on the writing prompt. I’m participating this week and decided what ever I wrote I would post and hope people are nice and in good moods when they read it. (Plus, I can delete any mean comments. I believe that is called “editing”. :) ) This week the prompt was to start the story with “your mother”.
“Your mother will be back soon. She went to the grocery store.”
That’s what my dad said when I came home from school. It was dark when I walked in the front door, so I thought he was asleep on the couch. Our house was always dark. My parents kept the curtains closed all the time. The light bothered them.
Dad looked like a beached whale, sprawled across the couch in front of the television watching Maury Povich. His dirty t- shirt strained to contain his belly. He was surrounded by an empty six pack and tipped back a bottle of something.
“Okay,” I said.
On days Mom was home, I’d go to the kitchen. Sometimes I’d catch her having a snack from her little gold canister. She’d dip her finger in, pop it in her mouth, and close her eyes. When she saw me, she’d close the lid and hide the canister, always in a different spot. When I asked to try, she told me it was for grown-ups only. Then she’d get me my snack. She always gave me something healthy, like fruit. But then I got something sweet too. Oreos were my favorite. She asked me about my day. I told her about my friends, what we learned in school, if my teacher had given me a sticker. She talked back, scratching her skinny, scarred arms.
That day she wasn’t home, so I went up to my room and locked the door. My mom installed a lock on the inside of my room. I used it when Dad was in a bad mood.
I sat in my room waiting for Mom to come home. When dinner time passed I unlocked the door and headed downstairs.
Dad was passed out on the couch. I went to the kitchen and made myself a PB and J sandwich. Grape jelly. I dipped the jelly knife into the peanut butter, so I had to scoop the mixed stuff out. Mom really hated it when there was jelly in the peanut butter. It sent her into one of her cleaning frenzies. She’d go through a whole bottle of bleach. It made our house smell like a hospital instead of cigarettes, alcohol, and B.O.
The next morning I got myself ready for school. Mom wasn’t home. She worked the early shift at the bakery making doughnuts, so I didn’t expect her. She hadn’t packed my lunch like she usually did, so I made one myself. I guess I knew something was wrong when I came home that day and she still wasn’t home.
“Dad,” I said, “is Mom home?”
He threw the bottle he was holding against the wall. It shattered. Vodka splattered all over.
He raged toward me, screaming, “Does it look like she’s home, you idiot? She left and she ain’t comin’ back!”
I ran toward my room as he barreled after me. I managed to lock the door before he slammed his shoulder into it. I wasn’t worth the trouble of fixing a broken door, so he left me alone. I cried under my pink sheets for a while. Then I packed my Hello Kitty backpack and sat on the bed watching the door. I waited for Mom to do our secret knock, to let me know it was safe to come out. I figured she must have had enough of Dad and was just waiting until the coast was clear to come get me.
I didn’t go to school for the next few days. I didn’t want to risk missing her. I crept down the stairs to the kitchen to grab food when Dad was asleep. Mom liked to stockpile things, so there was plenty of dry cereal, peanut butter, jelly, canned fruit, and baked beans for me to eat. I had two spoons, one for peanut butter and one for jelly, so I could put both in my mouth and still keep the jars clean.
A few days went by and I realized she wasn’t coming to get me right away. She wouldn’t leave me with him, I was sure. I figured she must be finding a place for us to settle down. I started going back to school. I took baths and everything so my teacher wouldn’t suspect anything was wrong.
Those first few weeks I spent a lot of time locked in my room. My dad pretty much ignored me as long as I stayed out of his way. I don’t remember exactly when, but one day I went into the family room while he was passed out and grabbed a half-empty bottle from the floor. I ran with it back to my room and locked the door.
I held the bottle for a long time, feeling the smooth glass in my hand. I smelled the clear liquid and my nose wrinkled. I pinched my nose and took a drink. It burned going down. My eyes watered and I sputtered, spraying some out of my mouth. I took another drink. It wasn’t as bad the second time and I kind of liked how it warmed my stomach. I kept drinking until I felt sick. That was my first drink three years ago. I was nine.
After that, I came home from school and waited until Dad was asleep or passed out. Then I grabbed a bottle of whatever he had, beer, vodka, gin, sometimes cheap wine, and lock myself in my room. We didn’t always have food in the house, but I could count on Dad to have plenty of booze.
I drank every day. I put vodka in my thermos for lunch. It helped me not miss mom so much at first. Then I just liked how it made me feel.
Last week, I was in the kitchen trying to find a spot to hide some alcohol to make sure Dad didn’t drink it all. I decided to use one of the lower shelves in the cupboards under the stove where we kept the pots and pans. Since Mom left, the pots and pans haven’t been used much.
Digging around I found the little gold canister. I popped the lid off. Inside was a baggie filled with a white powder. I put my finger in and tasted it. It was bitter. Not long after, my heart started pounding. I began to sweat and I suddenly had a lot of energy. I started cleaning. The bleach made our house smell like it did when mom was there.
When I came down, I dumped it in the toilet and watched it swirl down the drain.
I guess that’s why I’m here. I don’t want to become like either of my parents. A drunk blob laying on the couch all day watching crappy television shows or a junkie who leaves her daughter. So, hi, I’m Allie, and I’m an alcoholic.