A family dealing with the mother’s suicide and the son’s subsequent attempt, through the eyes of a twelve-year-old girl. For another piece from Charlotte’s perspective, click HERE.–
I got up on Daddy’s lap. I could smell his cologne, but he still smelled kind of dirty and sweaty. I could see dark sweat stains under his armpits on his gray T-shirt. I touched his beard, it was rough and scratchy but I loved the way it felt. He rocked me like a baby. He was crying quietly, like he was trying to make sure I didn’t hear. He kissed me on the head and said quietly, “Your hair’s a mess. You need to take a bath later and then I’ll brush it. Right now I need you to help me wash some dishes. Okay?”
“Okay Daddy. When’s Teddy coming home?”
“I don’t know, sweetie. Teddy needs to get his shit together. When the people at the hospital decide he can come home, Teddy can come home.”
Daddy played some John Cougar Mellencamp and we washed dishes together. He washed them, I dried them and put them away. He smiled sadly and said we were a pretty good team. There were stacks and stacks of dirty dishes, piled all on top of each other like towers. Nobody had washed them for weeks. Daddy used to say something called CPS might come and take us away if we didn’t help keep the house in working order. Daddy had to work. Sometimes Mom was too depressed to clean, or else too busy with being creative. Dad tried to keep up and sometimes Mom would go through psycho cleaning fits where she couldn’t do anything else. She was swirling through the house like the Tasmanian Devil because she couldn’t live like this anymore. She mopped and swept and washed dishes and packed stuff up to take to the Goodwill.
She did laundry and dusted and cleaned all the rotten food out of the fridge. Then she’d put her hands on her hips and smile and say she did good work. Sometimes Mom went into me and Teddy’s room and did some cleaning with us wanting her too. She threw away Teddy’s dirty magazines because they were ‘vile and sexist.’ She called Teddy a pig for liking to look at them. Teddy oinked and she slapped him. She gave away all my Barbie dolls because she decided they were cluttering up the room and I never played with them anymore. I did play with them, just not all the time. She gave away all my picture books because they were too young for me, even though I still really liked them. She tore up a 3D puzzle of a castle Teddy and Daddy were building on the kitchen table because they were never going to finish it. We never ate at the table anyway.
We usually hung out in the living room and watched a family-friendly movie while we ate. None of Teddy’s movies, which were usually either really weird or really violent. Nothing above PG-13 unless Mom or Dad previewed it first. If it was rated R just for bad language than it might be okay. Daddy and Mom argued a lot before she died. Sometimes it seemed like it was all they did. Dad said Mom was controlling and unreliable. Mom said Dad was judgmental and a total buzzkill. They would fight and fight and fight some more until I would turn the volume on my headphones as loud as it would possibly go or I’d hang out outside for a couple of hours.
Sometimes Mom and Dad would turn on soft music and lock their door or decide to take a bubble bath or a shower together and I would know they were done fighting and were making each other happy. One night I walked past the door and heard Mom moaning. I went into me and Teddy’s room and said I thought Mom was having a bad dream. She kept making strange sounds. I tried to open the door to see what was going on, but it was locked. I was only eight so I didn’t really understand anything, and I was scared. I went ito my room and asked Teddy if he knew what Mom and Dad were doing. He was lying on his bed doing his homework, and he laughed at me and rolled his eyes. I could tell he was kind of annoyed that I interrupted him with such a silly question. “They’re having sex, dumbass.” Without another word he continued his homework.
“Well, that’s what they’re doing.”
I quietly left the room and went back to my parents’ bedroom door. Mom was still making those funny noises. “Oh God, keep going, Brad, keep going, don’t stop. Yes! Yes!”
Well, if she was having a dream, it definitely wasn’t a bad one. I still wasn’t sure if they were having sex but I figured they probably were. I knew people had sex, I just didn’t know they liked it this much. I felt kind of sick to my stomach but I still listened at the door for a minute or two. Mom made louder sounds and then she screamed and finally, she was quiet. I guessed they had both fallen asleep.
5 thoughts on “Excerpt from Writing, Charlotte #2”