Archive for March, 2013|Monthly archive page

Goodbye, Mom

Here is my NPR Three Minute Fiction contest entry:

Hi, mom? Are you there? Pick up. It’s me, Jenna.

(She pours a shot of Jameson’s, takes a long sip.)

I’ve missed you. I know that’s hard to believe…considering. You just made me so angry sometimes.  I don’t blame you for what you did.

(She takes another sip of whiskey).

I want to come home. It’s been so long. I haven’t seen you in, what, ten years.

There’s so much I want to tell you. God, I hate talking to machines. Why don’t you pick up?

(She rubs her forehead.)

Fine, then. Don’t pick up. What are you waiting for? Do you want to hear me say I’m sorry? Well, I’m not, okay. You’re the one that should be sorry.

(She downs the whiskey, pours another drink. She rolls the whiskey bottle between her palms, takes a deep breath, holds it, lets it out.)

Do you know what it was like? I was fifteen years old and living on the streets. Do you have any idea what that was like?

(She slams her fist on the table.)

How could you? What kind of mother does that to their own child?

(She watches her four-year-old playing with her doll in the living room.)

There were times when I couldn’t find a place to sleep I’d come home and curl up on the porch swing. Did you know I was out there? Would you have asked me to come in? I’d stare at the house and imagine what it must be like to be inside where it was all warm and cozy and safe. Then my stomach would growl and I’d remember I hadn’t eaten in three days. I hated you so much.

(She gulps her drink, swipes away the tears.)

Why, mom? Why did you do it? I know I wasn’t the easiest person in the world to get along with but I was your daughter. Did you even love me?

(She pours another drink.)

“Tough love” that’s what you called it. Tough love. Yeah, it was tough alright. But I survived. You made me a stronger, tougher, person because of it.

(She runs her fingers through her hair, takes a sip of whiskey.)

My shrink tells me I need to stop living in the past. But I can’t. It’s part of me. It’s who I am. It’s what defines me as a person.

That night, when I came home, I saw you watching me from the window. You probably thought I’d been out drinking, didn’t you. Well, you were wrong. A friend of mine died that night. Overdose.

When I walked in, you started screaming at me. Calling me a useless drunk just like my father. You said I’d never amount to anything. That’s when I hit you.

You kicked me to the curb like yesterday’s garbage. I ran before the cops got there.

(She wraps her hands around the whiskey glass.

You were wrong. I made it. It wasn’t easy, but I made it. You taught me I could survive anything.

Even this.

(She takes another drink of whiskey.)

I’m outside.  We need to talk. Not like this. Face to face. It was my shrink’s idea, okay, not mine. I don’t want anything to do with you. You’re dead to me.

(Silence.)

She erases the answering machine tape, reaches across the kitchen table and takes her mother’s lifeless hand. “Goodbye, mom.”