Maybe it would roll off a cliff. Maybe I’d push it—just a little. And I’m sure if my mom knew who my dad was, surely he would’ve put a swift stop to naming me Havok. I can’t imagine that she didn’t know who he was; she just didn’t want to tell me. And honestly, I didn’t blame him one damned bit for not sticking around —it wasn’t exactly cloud puffs of heaven around our tiny, apartment. I sat in my closet and finished my homework by the light of one of those ‘put it anywhere’ light bulbs sold only on TV , complete with its own sticky tape, even though I bought it at the drugstore. I kept having to swat the hem of a flowered dress from my face. It was the same dress she wore to funerals and mandatory parent meetings. Floral wasn’t exactly funeral material but then again, my mom never did exactly fit in anywhere. She’s not that bad of a mother. She doesn’t make me stay in the closet. It’s my choice. Because what’s outside of this closet? The things that happen between the sliding mirrored doors of this closet and the apartment door were vomit inducing. Plus, I kinda liked the closet; it was my own personal safe haven. And she always sounded like a better mother when I constantly excused her. Hell, sometimes I made her seem like she was a confirmed saint. But I wasn’t perfect either—but I sure as hell wasn’t shaking my ass for drug money. If I was gonna dance on a metal pole, I’d at least live in a better apartment—with food. I pressed the button on my watch to make it glow for me, five thirty. I had to wake her up in an hour and a half, no earlier, no later. I had plans to meet Ali at her house for dinner. Ali was my best friend. She had twelve brothers and sisters and usually, if they didn’t outright count the heads at the table, I was overlooked. It worked to my advantage because if it weren’t for the Blakely family, I probably wouldn’t eat dinner at all. Wait, do crackers count as dinner?
No, I didn’t think so. I snuck in the kitchen an hour later to turn on the coffee pot, and then ducked back in to finish my homework. She always made sure there was plenty of coffee in the house. I listened to the radio on an old Walkman all while watching the time like I was on the watch’s salary. I stared at six fifty nine until the minute finally ticked by. For some reason, that damned minute between six fifty nine and seven crept like an iceberg. I slid the door open and looked both ways before crossing the room. There’s no telling what waited for me outside of those doors. And the traffic through this place was fast and furious—and icky. But icky was a hazard of her profession—well, her side profession. I crept over to her bed, really just a box spring and a mattress on the floor and patted her foot to make her wake up. She always, always had white sheets so I could bleach them, because gross. I really didn’t want to be on the propeller end of my mom waking up. She flailed her arms when her motor started and I was liable to lose an arm or the tip of my nose. Just because I was spelled wrong didn’t mean I was stupid. “Ugh—coffee.” She moaned, dragging her body up to a sitting position while keeping her face firmly planted on the pillow for as long as possible. Her platinum box blonde hair was fanned out across one side of her face like she’d been clobbered upside the head with a flat frying pan. As usual, she had to hug the sheet to her body, still naked from her last ‘payroll in the hay’. I’d seen her run around this house naked so many times, I’d pretty much become immune. Black gunk still clung to her eyelashes making her look like some Egyptian princess gone very, very wrong. Did anyone lose a vial of black ink? I found it. “Ok, I’m getting it.” That poor coffee maker was on its last leg. The little swivel job that held the filters, yeah, I broke the hinge on it last week on accident and had to duct tape it together. But thank God it still worked and somehow she hadn’t noticed. Even if she did, I would blame it on her. It’s not like she remembered anything after she snorted, smoked, or shot up—whatever the night gave her. At least that was my hope—that she wouldn’t notice until I could replace it. I poured the thick black stream into one of those huge coffee cups meant for coffee
connoisseurs and dumped obscene amounts of sugar and creamer into it. I carried it, along with a stray granola bar into the bedroom where she had already started her wake up line of coke. “Get my clothes, will ya?” She slurred at me while wiping the bottom of her nostrils and taking the steaming cup from my hands. She’d now wrapped the sheet completely around her, toga style, more convenient for sniffing and downing caffeine. She had her legs crossed like she was interviewing for a secretarial position instead of holding the sheet together in some resemblance of modesty. But really, what was the point? “Yeah, Mom.” I went to the dresser and pulled out jeans and a halter top for her. It was raining outside, and a halter top and jeans was the equivalent of a nun’s garb in my mom’s book. I might as well have handed her a monk’s robe by the repulsion written on her face. “Ugh—I hate jeans.” She said, disgusted with my choice. “It’s raining outside. It’s just until you get to the club, you know. Then you can change. You don’t want to get sick. Snot’s not sexy.” “Yeah, yeah, you should come to the club, let the girls make you over. You dress like a tomboy.” I looked down at myself. I didn’t really try to stick my style in such a stereotypical cliché like she did. But truth be told, I tried to dress boyish. I wore semi-baggy jeans and hoodies outside of the house. I never wanted to draw the attention of men. She did plenty of that for the both of us. “Um, I don’t think they’d let me wear that stuff to school, Mom.” She over-rolled her eyes, “Well, I guess not. But six more weeks and you can start working, putting in around here. I mean, you’re eighteen already, but I guess we have to let you finish high school. I don’t really consider your little paper route putting in. I suppose we’re gonna have to get a two bedroomer now.” A revolted shudder broke through me and floated across my skin. She can’t be serious. Then again, I said that to myself every time she mentioned my future career path.
What was she, the college and career advisor? Most mothers wanted their girls to be wives, nurses, teachers, doctors or lawyers. My mother expected me to follow in her footsteps and as I looked across the room at her neat shelves stacked with mile high stilettos, I renewed my vow to myself. Don’t be like your mother. And it wasn’t the dancing that made her a less than lucrative role model. It was the drugs and the prostitution on the side. “Um, yeah, Mom. It’s seven thirty, better get in the shower.” “Ugh—you’re such a goody goody. I’m going, I’m going.” I heard the water as the pipes squeaked alive and I put on some sterile gloves, a mainstay at this abode, and changed the sheets on her bed. I threw them in the hamper. Around here we needed one of those bins like they had at hospitals marked ‘hazardous materials’ or ‘soiled linens.’ Because when your Mom’s a stripper/prostitute/druggie, there’s just no telling what will make an appearance.
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