by DeLawrence Washington Jr.
When I was younger, it was my dad who decided to cut ties and move away from my mother. Knowing this to be true, you wouldn’t expect him to have been the first to give her a second chance, but he did. He seemed to think my rebuilding a connection was worth the risk as well. I loved my dad, but he was always more optimistic than I could ever have been. It was odd how I shared a pessimistic world view with my mother, but couldn’t bring myself to forgive her like my father. The sad part is I still loved her, just as much as my dad, but I dealt with life constantly dealing me bad hands. Naturally, I couldn’t overlook my mother’s nature having the potential for catastrophe. If anything, I saw it more clearly than anyone else.
Walking inside, it was like an unwanted game of hide and seek. The house wasn’t the biggest on the block, but there were enough rooms to make searching for my mother seem eerie and uncomfortable. There was a silent heartbeat to the tension until I heard her.
She was in the kitchen.
I approached slowly as if she were a masked gunman. She was going through the refrigerator, throwing out old food.
“I see your father hasn’t learned to cook anything new,” she said.
Of course, she knew I was there. You couldn’t sneak up on my mother. I suppose that was a skill she, my father, and I all shared in a way.
“What are you doing here,” I asked as I still crept into the room, keeping my distance.
“You don’t call. You don’t text. You don’t write. I didn’t know what else to do to see you,” she said in an almost aggravated tone.
She turned around, and with careless magic, she shut the refrigerator without touching its door. Magic that didn’t require words was rare, but magic that could be done with the wave of a hand was even more so. My mother knew so many spells she was basically a witch.
“You’ll be happy to know I’m still seeing doctor Dan,” she said
There was a nonchalance to the way she sat at the kitchen table sipping from a can of soda while I was noticeably on edge.
“You know your grandmother thought life’s problems could be solved with a tall glass of something strong. Therapy was never an option for my sisters growing up or me,” she added.
I stood with my back against a wall as if it were the only thing keeping her presence from knocking me over.
“Talk to me,” she demanded as she set her drink on the table and kicked out a seat for me to take beside her.
I swallowed my anxiety and took the seat.
“You’re not supposed to be in the house without dad around; he told me that,” I said.
“Your father will live,” she replied in a playful tone.
I looked away and laughed sarcastically under my breath. She had no respect for boundaries, not even the ones set by courts.
“Talk to me Pitch, what’s been going on in my beautiful boy’s life?” She asked as her hand reached across the table to hold my own.
Of course, I pulled away.
Dad wouldn’t be home for hours, and I didn’t have it in me to tell her to leave. I doubt she would have listened, but if she did, it would not have been good. In the end, I played along as best I could. As I said, I still loved my mother, but I understood the dangers of having her around.
“I got into an internship with a friend,” I said begrudgingly.
“That’s wonderful,” she said.
Her aura literally glowed with excitement, but I kept my same disinterested look as usual.
“You don’t seem too happy,” she deduced out loud.
“My friend Wes invited me somewhere too. I can’t do both,” I replied.
She chuckled, and it broke through my weak defenses.
“Those are better problems than your father and I had at your age,” she said.
“Sorry I was such a problem child,” I remarked.
“That’s not what I meant,” she defended.
“Is it safe for you to be here? I know you haven’t stopped.”
“I have, and I’m doing better every day.”
“Where did the car come from? You didn’t have it the last time I saw you.”
“The car isn’t magic,” she said.
My mother’s addiction was never to magic, but the act of taking what wasn’t hers. Whether she stole a spell book or a car, it proved she was the same.
“Did you steal it?” I asked with demand in my voice.
“I can help you,” she said, ignoring the question.
She tried to change the subject, but in doing so, she gave me a definitive answer nonetheless.
“With what?” I asked.
“Your problem. You don’t want to choose between your friends. I can give you something so you don’t have to.”
“I don’t need magic if you stole it.”
“It’s an old spell I’ve long returned by now, but you know photographic memories run in the family,” she said in an attempt to persuade me.
“I don’t need it,” I protested as I got up from my seat and pushed it back under the table.
“But you want it, and there’s a way for you to have it, just ask mamma,”
“No, thank you,” I said coldly.
“Why not get yours where you can?” She said, still in an attempt to persuade me.
It was middle school all over again. At least I was at an age where I could understand the repercussions of taking my mother’s help.
“You know dad thinks you’re changing, but I don’t see it.”
I turned to walk away, but her voice clutched my body still.
“You are just like your father.”
“Better than my mother,” I said.
It was the wrong thing to say. She used some sort of spell to pull me back into the room and flung me into the fridge.
“Mistakes or not, I am still your mother.”
I scrambled to get back to my feet.
“You need to leave,” I exclaimed.
“You think I’m a monster. I made the decision to take what I wanted. I made the decision to take what my family needed. You think anyone with power hesitates to take more however they can get it? I did the bare minimum. I took what I wanted without hurting anyone.”
“You hurt dad,” I said.
She went silent.
“You hurt me. Every time you get in trouble the cops come looking for us first,” I said.
She stood up from her seat, and I stumbled backward almost tripping over as I feared her next step. As she approached me, I found myself boxed in between kitchen counters. And then she stopped. I was stunned as she pulled a piece of paper from a hidden pocket of her leather jacket. She sat the piece of paper on the counter beside me, and after a moment of tension, she walked away.
“Use that to go two places at once,” she said as she left the room.
“I’m not using this,” I exclaimed, but she was already gone.