I sat in the waiting room with Darren, my legs crossed and tucked underneath me. I think it’s some sort of defense mechanism—reverting to a more child-like posture because I felt vulnerable, that kind of shit. In better days, Darren would have been quick to point it out and advise me as to the psychological significance of it. I couldn’t wait for him to be done with Intro to Psych.
He was there because I was there and I was there because of my mom.
He saw this as a two-fer: a fascinating opportunity to be close to a real-life case-study and the chance to woo me by playing the part of the supportive male friend, all at the same time. I was just too exhausted to tell him to fuck off, so he came.
He sat down next to me and flipped the end of my ponytail, a particularly annoying habit of his. I scowled. He smiled sheepishly.
“She’s going to be fine,” he said.
I glared at him. I was in no mood for anyone to be blowing sunshine up my ass. He didn’t seem to get the hint though and playfully nudged me while leaning in conspiratorially and whispering, “I mean it, Kourtney. She’s going to be just fine. You’ll see. I have a—”
“A what, Darren? A sixth sense? Jesus.”
“Okay, okay,” he said. He rose from his seat, looked back at me with a pathetic, please-ask-me-not-to-go look on his face and then shuffled off toward the vending area. I should have told him to let me come alone. He would have put up a fight and I would have had to endure the agonizing wait for information by myself, but there are worse things.
I don’t know why I let her talk me into living with her. One semester, she said. Just one. I’m a junior now. She’s no more mature, no more grown-up than she was when she left me with my grandmother on my fifth birthday so she could try her hand at cocktail waitressing in Reno. The biggest difference is that she’s graduated from the small time to bigger, badder, meaner, messer, harder things.
These days it’s snow.
Call it whatever you want. Blow, coke, c, nose candy. It all means the same thing. Cocaine.
I got home from study group to find her strung out, laying in a puddle of her own vomit in the middle of the goddam living room floor. There was a dimebag on the coffee table next to what had recently been 4 or 5 lines of coke. She’d been smoking and sniffing. She barely had a pulse.
Snow. It sounds so pure, so natural, so wonderful. Children play in it. It feeds rivers. It is a beautiful thing.
But that’s what she does, my mother. She perverts the beautiful, profanes the sacred. It’s what she’s best at. My curse is that I cannot bring myself to just let her die alone.
I knew Darren was right, knew she would pull through. And she did. This was just the first of many storms. And it would be a long, brutal winter.
*Written for the 500 Club.