I think this project is slightly inferior to the other ones, but I still thought I’d add an excerpt from it. The manuscript tells the story of Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Finch, a twelve-year-old girl coping with the suicide of her manic-depressive artist mother and unraveling a web of secrets about her beloved, troubled older brother Teddy.
Right now Teddy’s upstairs in his room listening to The Dropkick Murphys, which is his favorite band right now. His favorite band seems to change about every five seconds. I can’t go poking around right now. All his stuff is in his room, including his cell phone. Dad’s still not home from the damn store yet. It’s like he wants to buy all the stuff there. That’s what Daddy used to say about Mom when she got in one of her shopping moods.
Mom had her high moods and her low moods. During her high moods sometimes she would really like to shop. Dad would get mad and say “We don’t have enough money for all of this!” Sometimes Mom would spend all the money we had in the bank, and Daddy would growl and clench his fists and say she was ‘driving him to drink.’ Then he actually would drink. Dad would have to go back to the store and return all the clothes Mom bought, and Mom would cry and beg to just be allowed to keep the prettiest one, which I thought was a little overdramatic. Then Mom would bring us into it. “Tracy, stop bringing the kids into it.”
“Charlie, don’t you think Daddy should let Mommy keep this one dress? Isn’t it pretty?”
And Daddy would say “Tracy, stop. You’re making a spectacle out of yourself.”
“Can you believe out of all the men who wanted to marry me, this is the one I picked?”
“Tracy, Goddamn it, you apologize for that right now!”
“Apologize for what?” Then Mom would walk away with her nose in the air.
During Mom’s lows she was really really low. She wouldn’t even get out of bed. She drank a lot and smoked a lot and listened to “The Sound of Silence.” She would talk about how much she hated herself and how miserable she was and how she brought us all down, and none of us loved her. Daddy told us not to even talk to her when she was like that. She knew we loved her, she was just in a bad place. Sometimes Mom would throw things. She would sniffle and cry like a big toddler. Once she even stomped her foot.
She was a really good artist. Sometimes she sold a few paintings and made a little bit of money. She said it was hard to part with her paintings. It was like giving away her babies. But everybody was usually in a better mood when Mom sold a few of her paintings. Daddy would say she was the best artist he had ever seen, and it was true she was very good. She’d roll her eyes and say “Well, Brad, you must not have seen a lot of great artists,” but she was smiling. Mom could be coolest person in the world. She could also drive you absolutely apeshit.
She was very pretty, at least when she took baths and combed out her hair, and men flirted with her all the time. And she flirted back. She got guys’ phone numbers, but she never called them back. Daddy said it gave her an ‘ego boost.’ Dad had to make sure she took her medication, he sometimes said it was kind of like having a third child in the house. And it sometimes was. But I really miss her. I think about her all the time, even when I’m asleep, because I dream about her. I wish I could have good dreams about her, but they’re always nightmares.
I know Teddy has nightmares too because he does this anxious tooth-grinding thing in his sleep and then he starts screaming “No! No!” and he starts kicking his legs and punching the air like he’s in a fight. At first I woke him up, but then he hit me. He didn’t mean to, he was asleep, but he clocked me in the mouth and now I don’t wake him up when he has nightmares anymore. He wears a mouth guard to deal with the grinding and a bandana over his eyes to help him sleep. He plays music over his headphones and reads before bed. Sometimes he takes sleeping pills, sometimes he steals some of Dad’s liquor but I’m not supposed to tell.
It makes him drunk and playful and sleepy. Once he even threw a pillow at me and then we got into a pillow fight. He couldn’t walk straight or talk right and he fell on the floor and laughed and laughed. Then he pulled me down with him. It was so fun I forgot my big brother was drunk. I guess none of this will matter quite as much when I get older. But right now it’s driving me crazy. I don’t know what to do. It’s like watching an explosion in slow-motion. I want to help but it’s almost like people won’t let me help. There’s too much going on in my brain. Sometimes I think maybe I’m going to turn out like my mom. Something’s going to snap in my brain and I’m not going to be able to put it back together.
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