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Chapter 6

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Chapter 6
In Which I Lose My Mother… Again

My mother. Oh, I have memories of her. Few and precious.

Tall. Freckles on her arm. Sunshine. Playing and laughing. Deep down, despite everything, I’ve always felt that she loved me. Incompetent or not, she loved me.

She was pretty. Maybe all little children think their mothers are pretty, I don’t know. But I thought mine was.

And when she came back for us, I knew her. Don’t let anybody tell you that children forget. I remembered, and I wanted her more than I wanted anything else.

Bill and Ava told me one day that if anyone tried to take me away from them, they’d kill them. I knew they were going to kill her if she didn’t take us with her the very next time.

Another memory of her. Knowing she was going to die. Knowing it, and so begging her to take me with her. Begging her, groveling at her feet. “Don’t leave me here. Take me with you. Please, oh please, please don’t leave me. If you leave me now, you’ll never see me again.” Oh, I begged her. I warned her. And I begged her not to die. “Please don’t die, mommy!”

“I won’t, baby, I won’t.”

“You promise?”

“I promise!”

“You’re gonna die. Please take me with you.”

“I can’t, baby, I can’t. I’m so sorry.”

And with tears in her eyes, she was gone. I understand now how much it must have hurt her. It must have torn her apart in ways that cannot be expressed to have to leave with her child distraught and begging and screaming for her. I’m sorry momma. So sorry. I’m so sorry for that. It breaks my heart now to understand how leaving me must have broken yours.

Then the rest of my memories of her are of death and loss. I’ll put them here in order, though that’s not the way I remember them. Because as I say, a child’s memory is different. They remember in order of emotional strength, not in order of time frame. So this is the best reconstruction I can do with what I have to work with.

I woke up one night to the sound of screaming. I asked Natalie what it was, and she told me to go back to sleep, it was just a wildcat. I tried to go back to sleep, but I was keyed up, so I decided to go potty. Down the stairs I snuck, slowly and cautiously. If they caught me, I’d be punished, more likely than not.

I heard them come in the front door, and I heard voices. I hid as quickly as I could. From where I was, I could see the stairs. Bill came into view, carrying my mother. She was in his arms, rather the way one would carry a baby cradled, except her head was falling over his arm. She was wearing a greenish-teal t-shirt and something white over it.

I knew immediately that she was dead. Were I a poet, I couldn’t begin to express the depth of misery, sorrow, desperation, desolation, and agony that settled into me. In that moment, knowing that my mother was dead, something deep within me died. Hope lost the fight in that instant, and it took decades to resurrect it. To say I was bereft is to say that a blizzard is a bit of a snow or that the Sahara is ‘big.’

I understood death. I understood my mother’s death. I felt it in every part of myself.

I don’t know how long it was, but Bill came back downstairs. When he did, and went outside, I snuck upstairs. When I got up there, I saw the storage room door open. I went inside, and the jars had been moved. My mother was stuffed into a false back on one of the shelves, where normally the drugs and guns were kept.

She was staring at me. Her cheek was split open, a bloody spot there with white bone showing through. Her eyes, though, were the part that scared me so badly that I still sometimes have nightmares about it. They stared, and they weren’t shiny. There were tiny wrinkles in them. It’s difficult to explain, but they left no doubt for me. She was dead.

I crawled back into my bed. I laid there and wanted to die. I worked to stifle my sobbing, but couldn’t. No one woke up, but I couldn’t sleep, either.

A while later, I sneaked back downstairs, and then outside. I must have heard them talking, though I don’t remember that. I just remember sneaking out the back door, and to the corner of the house. There, Bill, Ava, Raymond, and my mother’s husband were there. They were butchering in a pool of light from one of those old fashioned outdoor lights. The kind with a small cage around the light, and a hook so you can hang them up. But it wasn’t hung up; it was lying on the ground.

The saw was whining, and they were standing and watching. Bill was cutting something and throwing it to the pigs, who were quite happy with their midnight snack. I stared for a few moments. It seems long, but again, I was a child so any period of time could be long. It was long enough that the cold was hurting my naked feet fairly badly.

I watched them for a bit, and then I almost screamed in dismay. A pale arm flopped from behind Bill, and lay in the pool of light. I watched longer until lights from a car interrupted them. They scrambled to the side of the house where they’d been digging to put in a root cellar. They shoved something in and walked towards the pool of light again. I ran inside and went back to my bed. I was too scared then even to cry.

Another memory, which I thought was unrelated, but learned later was perfectly related…. it must have been the next day. I saw a mustang car slowly sinking into the bog of the swamp not far from our house as we walked to school. There was blood on the white and black fluffy seat covers.

Come to find out, it was one of the boys’ car (Rocky, I think). It did have those fluffy seat covers, and it did go missing…. right around when my mother did.

Those pigs were made into ham that year. I still cannot even force myself to eat ham. I don’t mind pork or bacon, but I simply cannot abide ham.

Written by sandit4glp

July 30, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Posted in Chapter 06