[www.writersdigest.com/prompts for good prompts.]
I hate shopping but my mother insisted that if I went to the market, she’d order me some pizza. So like any other teenage boy, I was bartered into doing things I despise.
I pull up to Shopper’s Mart in my old beat up Jimmy. It’s not really much to look at but hey, it works. As I sluggishly walk up to the front doors, I pull out the list and see what all I have to get.
Eggs, coffee, milk, butter, vinegar, and some salt. That’s lame. She couldn’t have gotten these last Friday when she got paid? My mom is a special one. I weave through the isles aimlessly looking for the salt and vinegar. I turned the corner and bumped into this old woman, dropping the carton of eggs I had in hand. Should have gotten a basket. I look at the eggs smashed on the floor, and older woman I ran into. She has brown hair, and her roots are peppered gray. She looks as if shes in her early forties but the wrinkles suggest a hard life, with a lot of worry. She smiles at me kindly, and gave me a hard stare. If I wasn’t crazy, I’d think that she was staring into my soul. I smiled faintly, and apologized sympathetically.
“That’s quite alright, dear.” She smiled gently and reached in her kart for something. A puzzled look crossed over my face and I extended my attempt to humor her. “Wish I would have gotten a basket,” I said jokingly as she reached out her own carton of eggs to me. ‘I stared at her for a moment, and glanced my eyes from the carton of eggs in her hands, to the generous grin in her eyes. I took the eggs from her, still questioning her actions, and my own.
“Uh, thanks, but you really don’t have to give me these…” I said hesitantly, waiting for her to respond. All I got in return was a soft wink, and then she turned around and walked away. I stood there baffled, confused as to why she would just give me her eggs. It’s not really about the eggs, so much as it is the gesture.
“Hey, did you do this?” A cocky 16 year old kid said from behind me. I turned rather quickly cause it startled me. I showed him the full carton of eggs in my hand with a ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about face,’ plastered on, but didn’t say anything.
“Oh hey, here.” He turned and started digging around the tray of crap he was trolling with him, and then pulled out a basket.
“Sorry for accusing you, have a basket, your hands are looking pretty full…” He eagerly handed me the basket, in fear of me going to his boss. I wouldn’t do that though. Hell, I work in a gas station. I throw the eggs, milk and coffee jug into the basket. I hurry through the rest of the store just to get the hell home.
As I load my items on to the band, the handles on the basket snap, and the eggs smash into the ground. Today is not my day. I look at the cashier who picks up her phone and call someone to clean it up.
“Would you like to go get another pack of eggs, sir?” She asked in an un-amused tone.
“No thanks,” I said with a sigh of frustration. “I’ll be going without the eggs today.” They’ve already been trouble enough for me. I’m not about to lose a third batch of eggs.
I pulled into the trailer park on the north side of Wredwhitch. I open the door to the trailer that looks as if it was built 120 years ago. The carpet is all stained to hell, the walls are pealing apart. half the windows are boarded up. It’s not ideal, but for just me, my mom and little sister, it’s all we need. I set the bag of groceries and my keys on the counter and glance around the room to find mom is passed out on the couch with a cigarette burning in her hand, and a pipe on the table in front of her. I sighed and walked over to her, grabbing the cigarette and putting it out in the ashtray. I took her pipe and grinder and put it in the top drawer of her dresser, Since that’s where she’s been keeping it. She thinks I don’t know about it. She doesn’t even wonder how her pipe ends up back in her drawer. Probably because she’s too stoned to notice. I make sure I hide it before three o’clock rolls around so Leah doesn’t see it. She doesn’t need to be exposed to this, and know what life does to some people. Granted, my mom has had it rough, but sometimes I think that she over does herself.
I check the time on the cable box, it reads, “3:44” Shit! I’m late! I grabbed my keys and run out the door, not caring if I slam the door and wake up the devilish woman inside. I speed down the back roads hoping that there aren’t any cops around. When I pull up to Wredwhitch Elementary, I see Leah sitting on the curb outside of her school with a teach standing behind her, phone in hand. I pull up with the windows down and I hear Mrs. Gates complaining.
“Miss Hatcher, are you aware that your daughter has been sitting outside of the school waiting for you to come get her, for almost an hour now? Look, Rodney just got here, so we will let this slide .” Mrs. Gates was a bulgy woman, curly, short dark brown hair, a face you wont forget, with a mole that made it’s home right in the middle of her forehead. She wears grandma sweaters, one’s that come from those stores no one but the elderly know about. Those things should be illegal to wear. Her skirt was black and came down and hugged her elephant thighs, and fishtailed out a little. As soon as the car stopped, Leah popped up and opened the door. She wasn’t too fond of Mrs. Gates, but to be fair, Mrs. Gates hates my whole family. Then speak of the devil, she pops her head in the car window after Leah slammed it shut.
“Rodney, you need to be more watchful of her, or get your mother to pick her up once in a while.” She glared me down, and I smiled big, showing her to go screw off. I revved the gas pedal, and then pulled away. Leah leaned out the window and stuck her tongue out at her.
“Leah, sit down, and put on your seat belt.” I tugged on her jacket and pulled her back so her butt hit the seat.
“I know she sucks, but don’t go getting yourself in trouble, Mom will throw a fit about it.” I tried to sound sympathetic but she knows better. Leah is the smartest nine year old I’ve ever known. But sometimes, like all of us, have our breaking points. Leah’s just not quiet about it.
“Yeah, yeah. I know. I just hate that woman.” She replied as she snapped in her seat belt.
“We all do, Lee. How was school?” I asked, trying to figure out why she’s so mad.
“Laken called me names today. So I called her the b word and got in trouble for it. You don’t get in trouble when you say it, I don’t understand.” She crossed her arms thinking she wasn’t in the wrong. But I corrected her.
“Leah, the b word is a bad word. Only grown ups use it. When you are older you can say it. But for now, just stick to holding your anger in until you get home, and you can complain to me about it. Okay?” I tried to convince her, and it seemed like she took the bait.
“Okay, fine. But only because you asked me to.” She said trying to make herself feel like she was dictating the situation. Whatever helps her I guess.
We got home and walked in as mom was putting the milk and coffee away.
” You forgot the eggs.” She glared at me in her raspy voice she got from smoking too much.
“Sorry, I dropped them.” I sat Leah’s book bag on the table and started going through it, looking for her homework. I always help Leah with her homework. Mom claims not to know anything she’s learning about so she doesn’t bother to try. Leah started making a sandwhich and mom came over and sat down in the chair in front of me.
“Sit.” She said quietly. Lecture time. “Look. I don’t ask you to do much, so when I do ask you something, I expect you to do it. How hard is it really, to go to the store and get some damn eggs. I mean, I asked you to do one thing, Rodney!”
I stopped what I was doing and I just looked at the table. “You know, mom,” I spoke calmly. “Leah doesn’t need a mom who practically smokes herself to dead every day and night. She needs someone to help her grow up. You know, some day I’m going to have to try and make something of my life instead of taking care of your child. I love Leah, but I can’t give her what she needs from her own mother. I’m only the big brother.” I looked at mom, her eyes started tearing up. I felt bad for what I said but I meant it. That’s why I feel bad. She flew out of the chair and slammed her hands on our table.
“Don’t you DARE tell me how to raise her! You grew up to be worthless.” She glared at me with pure anger raging in her. This side of her I’ve never before come in contact with. But her calling ‘me’ worthless? No. I’m the one with a job, and a car, and support my mother and my baby sister. I’m not like her.
“Unlike you, I take care of everything around here, so don’t call me worthless just because you have it so hard, I’m not the one that put you in this spot. You know sometimes I wish you would just smoke yourself to death. Just so you wouldn’t have to worry about us anymore.” I grabbed Leah’s book bag and went to Leah and I’s room. When mom and I start arguing she hides in our room and listens to my mp3 player so she doesn’t have to hear what we say. I don’t blame her.
I helped her with her homework, cooked her eggs and toast with the last two eggs in the kitchen with some toast and butter, and sent her to bed. I went out to the living room where mom was once again passed out on the couch. Her pipe in hand. I shook her a couple times, trying to wake her up.
“Mom. Get up. Let’s get you to bed.” I shook her, but nothing happened. Usually she springs up, and looks like she saw a ghost. But this time… there was nothing. I kept shaking her, harder and harder and still nothing worked. So I yelled, ” Get up, Rachel.” In her ear. My nose brushed against her ear, her skin was ice cold.
“Mom? Mom, wake up,” I grabbed her face in my and and shook it a little, her cheeks were faded of color, “Mom!” I yelled louder, my heart was racing, “Mom, I didn’t mean it wake up!” I laid my head on her chest and listened desperately for a heart beat. Nothing. “Mom, no, stay with me,” I opened her eye lids and looked for any sign that she’s still there, but I found nothing promising. I scrambled for my phone in my pocket and dialed 911 as fast as my fingers could manage. I’m not one to cry, but tears were pouring out my face. I heard our bedroom door open from behind me, and I turned back to Leah, still yelling, “Back in your room, Now, Lee! Shut the door and put your music on.”
“What’s wrong with mommy?” She rubbed her eyes and stood in the hallway confused. I jumped up and rushed over to her and put her on her bed and gave her the mp3 player, and told her to put the earphones in, and not to come out of the room no matter what. I held the phone back up to my ear as I left the room, shutting the door behind me. I rushed over to mom as I gave the Emergency operator my address and information. I held my mom in my hands, crying. I kept apologizing for everything. I hate myself. What have I done? I’m so sorry momma, I take it all back, everything I said, I wish you were back, Mom, please don’t leave me!” Five minutes later an ambulance showed up, and the medics evaluated her, to see if she had a pulse.
“It’s a faint heartbeat but she’s still alive.” The paramedic signaled to his friends to help lift her. They quickly strapped her to the bed and loaded her in the back of the ambulance. I grabbed Leah’s coat, and picked her up and put her in the ambulance with both me and mom. When she saw mom strapped down and a breathing mask strapped to her face, she stared at me for a long moment, then back at her. “Robby, is mommy really sick?” Her dark doe eyes stared into me, cutting holes in my chest. her thin blond hair was tangled and I could tell she was still half asleep. I couldn’t help but feel like this was all my fault. If I wouldn’t have said those things.. I almost lost my mom. The only person Leah can really look up to. Our family is small and broken. Leah and I have never met our father, and I almost took Leah’s mother away. She was mine too, but she was never really there for me. At least she pretends to care about Leah once in a while.
“Yeah, Lee, Mommy got real sick, so these nice people are going to help take care of mommy, so she can get better. We’re going with her so we can see her when she wakes up. And I couldn’t leave you home alone. ” I smiled faintly and rubbed her cheek. She got quiet and stared at her mother laying there, not saying a word.
Be careful what you wish for…