Life can change in an instant. I know, because it happened to me. One day you could be eating pizza every Friday with your parents at that one pizza parlor that is connected to an ice cream place in Seattle. Seemingly the next day you could be living out of a Motel in rural Georgia; and wishing school was in session during the summer so that you could get a free or reduced cost lunch. In fact, I can sort of divide my life into two distinct eras. You know how, in ancient history, they have B.C. and A.D. standing for Before Christ and After Death? Like, 600 B.C. would mean 600 years before Jesus was around, and then all the life we're living now is happening thousands of years after his death. Well, I've got that too, except my life is defined as Before Crash and After Crash.
You see, my dad died in a car crash when I was sixteen. I'm still sixteen, but it feels like 600 years After Crash. Some things about me are still the same. My name is still Miesha Smith. I still have strawberry blonde hair and grey eyes. I'm a perfect blend of my beautiful parents. My father, James, had flaming red Irish hair, but his eyes were stormy grey like mine. We don't know where the grey eyes come from, because dad was adopted by a single mom who didn't know anything about his birth parents. Sadly, Grandma Smith died when I was fourteen.
My hair is a mix of his red and my mom's beautiful blonde. Anastasia Smith came from Russia, but her family disowned her for running away to marry an American she'd only met over the Internet. She always told me love is stronger than fear. I hope that's still true. My mom hasn't been the same since my dad died. She was driving the car. It wasn't her fault, but I think she'll always blame herself. Things have been funny After Crash. There are two meanings of the word funny, too: Funny "ha ha" and funny "uh oh."
Funny "ha ha" mom from Before Crash was so incredibly attentive that she used to follow me around on the playground acting like a silly monkey just so that she could make sure I wouldn't fall off the equipment. Funny "uh oh" mom After Crash slurs her words and doesn't make sense. She had so much back pain from the accident that she gained a lot of weight, which made her even more tired and sore. She mostly took pain pills and slept all day. We could barely carry on a conversation anymore, After Crash, because she won't remember a sentence that I spoke five minutes ago.
Before Crash, she would encourage dad and I to put our orange peels from our desserts into our mouths like orange smiles at the Chinese food restaurant just to make the wait staff laugh. Funny ha ha! After Crash, mom asked me to grab her three pills from each of her bottles in the bathroom. For the first time, I noticed that, even though she had five different doctor names on the bottles, they all were for the same medicine name. So, when she was taking pills from each bottle every few hours, she was actually taking a huge handful of the same medication. Funny uh oh.
One thing that is still the same After Crash is my best friend, Kaia. Kaia and I became pen pals when I was in elementary school when we were randomly assigned to each other by the Post Office for a summer pen pal program. For as long as I've known her, Kaia has spent summers with her dad in rural Japan and the rest of the year with her mom in Canada. Once, we even met in person when we were really young. Kaia's mom had flown her from Toronto to Vancouver and they made a daytrip to Seattle just to see me. I barely remember that day, because it was one of those crazy playdates kids have at the zoo, so we were both running around and being wild. I do remember how she looked so beautiful.
Kaia was born with albinism, so her skin is exceptionally pearl white, and her eyes look different in different lighting. Her hair is naturally pure white blonde, but when she is with her mom she dyes it purple, and when she's with her dad she dyes it black since, according to her dad, purple hair on kids is scandalous out in the countryside of Japan. She also wears a special pendant from that day, and I do too. We got one of those necklaces with two sides of a heart that say "BEST FRIENDS" when you hold them together. I always wear it and, After Crash, feeling its solid metal against my chest is the one piece of stability I need.
Though we shared a lot of giggles at that playdate, we've shared plenty more with each other in what must be hundreds of letters and thousands of messages. After Crash, Kaia became my only friend, even though I used to be popular at my old school.
Mom had to move somewhere where life is cheaper, which is why we went to Georgia. Some of my friends kept in touch when I still had a phone and a laptop, but mom had to sell my electronics to afford her medicines. Even though I had mailing addresses for some of my old friends, none of them wrote back. Except for Kaia. For us, it was just like back in old times. She even started using colorful pens and fun stickers in her letters to me to cheer me up.
I've needed some cheering up. The grief has been unbearable for my mom and I. Mom made me go to the motel pool to hang out while she meets up with all sorts of weird local men from this bad area of Georgia. Mom told me that we have to find a new stepdad for me, and quickly. She never got her United States citizenship, which means that deportation back to Russia had become an ever-present fear ever since dad left this earth.
There's one man, in particular, that made my skin crawl every time he came over. Darrin smelled like Tennessee whisky and cigarettes. He was balding, but wore his remaining hair in a greasy ponytail. Unfortunately, he seemed to become mom's favorite by bringing her Lotto scratch tickets and extra pain pills in a sandwich baggie. Not that mom ever scratched the tickets. She left them for me to do, since it's not like there's a lot of entertainment around here, and she's too spaced out to figure out whether she's won or not.
On one such night, when Darrin was coming over, mom sent me down to the pool, but let me know that I needed to come back in an hour because she needed a ride in the car for more pills. I don't have a license yet, but I have a Learner's Permit from Washington. Mom hasn't driven since the accident, and she's probably not safe to drive on her medication anyway.
The skies were getting stormy, and the clouds looked like great grey knots. Instead of hitting the pool, I checked at the front desk for mail. I was handed a stack of mostly bills with red stamps saying they were a second or third notice. I sifted through them until I saw the unmistakable delicate calligraphy from Kaia. Plopping down in a worn out old couch in the lobby, I read the letter as if reading it was drinking water in a desert. Kaia wasn't doing well. She had been struggling with an eating disorder, and found herself checked into a psychiatric facility in Japan. She said she was participating in treatment, but also scared to gain weight and get fat. She expressed sympathy for my situation, and closed the letter telling me that I was always welcome to visit Japan if I ever found the money.
I wrote back on some hotel stationary and made sure to include that I thought she was the most beautiful girl in the world and that I hoped she would recover and allow her body to gain healthy weight that her doctors said she needed. The desk clerk offered to stamp it and put it in the outgoing mail. He was always so kind to me, even though I sent a letter on his dime every single day.
Stuffing the precious letter from Kaia in my pocket, I took the stack of bills back to our room. It hadn't quite been an hour, but I at least wanted to drop them off. I made sure to knock on the door before swiping the key card. The shower was running. Mom and Darrin must be showering together or something. Gross. I tried hard not to judge the men that mom dated after dad's death. I felt like I couldn't objectively tell whether I hated them for valid reasons, or whether I just felt disgusted by them because they weren't dad. So, instead, I just opted out and tried to let her live her own life. My mom didn't judge me when I dated a girl at my old school, so I wanted to extend the same courtesy.
I tossed mom's mail on her little twin bed and flopped onto my bed, grabbing the scratch off tickets from the T.V. stand and scratching them with a little plastic tool the gas station gave out that looked like a four leaf clover. When my eyes ran over the third ticket repeatedly, the hand holding the ticket started to shake. Three cherries by the number $500. That was enough to buy real food for months! I hid it carefully in the bottom of my shoe, in between where the lining was peeling out from wear and the sole. Darrin couldn't see this, or he'd probably take it. I always hid my money there. I was saving up for a trip to see Kaia in Toronto during winter break.
The bathroom door swung open suddenly, so I stuffed my shoe back on and sat up straight. Mom stumbled out and smacked into the lamp by the microwave. I stood up with a start and put my hands beside her shoulders to help steady her.
"Are you all right, mom?" She smelled a strange, chemical smell, and she wasn't wet from the shower. Mom mumbled something unintelligible and pulled out of my hands like I wasn't even there to head out the front door. I felt Darrin's presence behind me even before he grabbed my arm. Whenever he was around he felt like a bowling ball dropped in the middle of the fabric of space and time.
"Don't touch my wife." His vice grip felt rough and dry. My face screwed up in disgust.
"She's not your wife!", I spat. Was it possible mom had married him on paper to stay in the country? Didn't you have to go to a courthouse or something for that? He manhandled me into a seated position on the bed and put a belt around my upper arm like some sort of handcuff. My heart pounded in my ears and everything seemed to move in slow motion.
"Let me give you something to calm you down." Darrin hissed with whisky breath into my face, making me wince. He retrieved a syringe out of his pocket and pulled off the cap with his teeth like a pen. I shrieked and pulled away. My face was pointing towards the door, so I didn't even feel the slap coming. With a bang, the back of his knuckles slammed against my left temple and I fell sideways onto the bed. My ears were ringing and flashing lights chased each other in my vision as I stared, motionless, at the door. I felt the belt around my arm tighten and then a quick prick of the needle. Immediately, my body seemed to flood with warmth, starting from my head and moving down towards my toes. I felt the belt release, but I stayed where I had fallen, trying to get my bearings.
His body pressed down on me and his breath seemed hot, like a dragon's fire. I, however, was somewhere else. In one moment, I felt like I was a spirit flying up into the stormy clouds in the sky, looking through the roof of the motel with X-ray vision to see my body on the bed. He flipped me on my back, but I didn't feel it. In the next moment, the dark clouds rolled in from all sides of my vision, closing it down to a tiny pinhole. I could see my face screaming, but I didn't hear it. My body was ice cold, but I couldn't feel anything else, like I had dissolved into the storm. I was in the clouds, surrounded by a hailstorm, with balls of hail flying out of my fingertips crashing angrily down on cruel, planet, Earth. And then, blackness.
Obrigado pela leitura!
Podemos manter o Inkspired gratuitamente exibindo anúncios para nossos visitantes. Por favor, apoie-nos colocando na lista de permissões ou desativando o AdBlocker (bloqueador de publicidade).
Depois de fazer isso, recarregue o site para continuar usando o Inkspired normalmente.