The Oracle’s Tale Part 4
(Beep. Music fades in.)
While she might have agreed to it as part of an ill begotten pact that then became real, Mom still did not want to do it. And by “it,” I mean reach out to her estranged father. Up until then I thought we had stopped seeing him because I was uncomfortable around him, but Mom's distress if not outright anger at the mere thought of speaking to him proved me wrong. There was more going on there than I had known. The problem was: he was the only person who could help me with this or offer any sort of guidance. That is… if this was real. Whatever this was… Is…
But I knew what Mom had written down on a page that no longer existed. Even Occam's Razor was starting to suggest that this was very much real. Much to all of our fear and chagrin.
Mom took that day off of work. And she announced it with a great deal of anger and frustration. She also included something akin to an explanation: that it would be better for her to make the call when I wasn't around. I'm still not entirely sure why. I already knew she clearly had an issue with him, and there was no need to being it up in my presence. Also all of those details didn't seem important relative to the crisis her child was currently having, but I guess we had to agree to disagree.
Not that I really got a side in that dispute. As always. I never really got to say what I was thinking, but but then I knew it wasn't worth it to even try with her. I never got anywhere. Besides yelled at.
So I went to school feeling incredibly bitter about it all. Not only that she wasn't listening to me. But also about her hesitation to call her. Her seeming unwillingness to prioritize my well-being over her issues. Again.
(Music fades out and new music fades in)
Not that this feeling is all that relevant to the story. Okay, that might sound kind of bad. Like borderline self destruct bad. But genuinely, the issues I have with my mom are not that important to the larger story.
Because when I got home from school to find a couple suitcases out in front of our house and my mother--ever frugal and practical--loading up our perishable groceries into the front seat of the car, well I forgot everything that came before. I forgot my anger, my bitterness, and briefly all of the frustration I otherwise carry. I don’t know what I was expecting to happen as a result of that phone. In fact, I think I was maybe expecting it to not happen at all. That seemed more likely than us rushing into the car to go to him.
Is that what I thought was happening? I think so, but I can’t remember.
I remember that she looked up when she sensed the bus in front of our house. She looked to it and then to me, and if it were possible to look more dismayed, she did, but let me just say, her disgust was so intense I doubt she could have mustered any more regardless of the reason . You know you’d think a mother would be happy to see her kid. Or that’s what I would have thought, but that wasn’t that way.
(Music fades out and new music fades in)
In some ways, it was a normal day, despite the sight in front of me. Or--at least--it would have appeared that way to anyone else. Like the bus driver--who did not have to care and in fact had many reasons not to, so he didn’t hesitate to drive off, and that was convenient in many regards. Mom didn’t want to speak to me or at me with the bus driver or with anyone in sight. Never mind within ear shot.
“We’re going to your grandpa,” Mom said. “And we’re going to stay with him for awhile.”
“How long?” I asked.
“A while,” she stressed.
“What about school?”
“I called them. They’ll mail your school work. And spring break is coming. If we’re still there after the break, we can just transfer you.”
“So when will we be back?” I wondered.
She told the principal my grandfather was dying and needed us to take care of him. They couldn’t politely ask how long it would take for him to die, so she was off the hook in terms of a timeline. Mom did add that we were the only ones who could help him; we were the only family members he had, and because he and I had always been close, depriving me of those final days with him would be deeply traumatic.
And maybe that story should have raised some red flags with them. After all, it was chalk of lies. But everyone at that school who was charged with my welfare found it in them not to worry. It might have been too easy for them. Who knows. But I had always been a strong student, more than capable of playing catch up if need be. Like a need created by my mother’s momentary lapse in judgment. Or anything of the sort, they could easily say.
And I had been acting out as of late. You and I both know it was from the dreams, but they didn’t know about them. And it wasn’t in a drastic way but enough that no one could pretend they didn’t notice without still being liable in some regards for whatever drugs I ended up turning to as a means of coping with this trauma they didn’t want to deal with.
And now, here was my mother offering them not only a scapegoat dressed as an explanation but a potential solution that was entirely her responsibility. How grand.
No, I don’t think too highly of them. I Never have. I knew there were amazing school teachers and professionals out there, but I didn’t have any. Well, I had one, but that’s how all of this got started, potentially. And no, this wasn’t just the perception of a rebellious teenager. There’s a reason I felt this way. Truly, but we are not there just yet.
(Music fades out and new music fades in)
Grandpa lived in that awkward distance where a plane ticket was exorbitantly overpriced and hard to book, but car rides were unbearably long even when you got along with your travel companions. Obviously Mom and I couldn’t say that. But still she would never turn the radio on. She hated it. So I felt this odd compulsion to try and keep a conversation going. Not that it ever ended well, but I was young and naive, you could say.
I climbed into the back seat, greeted by the gallon of milk that was seated at my feet. It was bizarre, to say the least. And it was in that absurdity that the weight of the moment was catching up with me. Meanwhile, Mom was throwing herself into the driver’s seat, and though my timing could have been better, when she started the engine, I asked her, “Are you leaving me with Grandpa?”
“No,” she said. “Never,” she vowed.
Her tone was softer than it usually was, and that emboldened me. Yes, I should have let the matter drop, but instead, I kept digging. “Why do you hate him so much?”
Normally, she’d react to the word “hate.” She’d always rebuked me for using it. And it looked like she started to. Even though I couldn’t see her face. Her body was instinctively starting the motions, but she lacked the ability to go on. It was a lie she couldn’t sustain. She knew that. So she backed down and thought about it for a moment.
“It’s complicated,” she finally replied. “We are two different people.” And then she put the car in reverse, beginning the journey as if the conversation was over. But it wasn’t.
Now, I was young, yes, but I wasn’t stupid. “So you want me to believe you won’t leave me with someone you hate and spent years avoiding, and clearly don’t want to talk to, but you won’t tell me why you hate him. Great plan, Mom. Just great.”
We were half way out of the driveway, our trunk hanging into the street, but that didn’t matter to her. She threw the car into park, and it lurched back in response.
She turned to me with tears in the corners of her eyes. “I’m not leaving you with him. Ever. My love for you trumps everything. ”
I don’t know if she was expecting me to say something. There was momentum in the space after that final word, but she didn’t move to fill it right away. Neither did I. I said nothing. I couldn’t.
So she went on, “I know you want to see him, but I wouldn’t be taking us if there was any other choice. He’s a horrible man, okay? Horrible. But we need help, Baby. We need help, and I don’t know if anyone else can help us.”
She didn’t say she was scared, but that was the only thing that could fit in the tightness of her throat and underneath her words. I still didn’t understand.
“I knew a girl like you,” she finally added. “When I was younger. We were playmates. And she said she could see things like you do.”
Once again, she left her words half spoken. And so I pushed her.
“What happened to her?”
She paused, only to stammer, “The doctors say she’s schizophrenic, but there are many ways to treat that now, but none of them are working for her. Her parents have taken her to every expert and specialist. But nothing has helped.
“Baby,” Mom finally added. “I don’t think it’s her brain.”
(Music fades out. Beep. Music fades in)
I won’t give too much away, but that girl’s name is a derivative of Mary. So I’ll use that when I’m talking about her. It’s great for something like privacy. But also, if I say her name, this will be real, and I don’t want this to be real.
Because I tried to track Mary down recently. When I started having this set of dreams, the one about of my current clients, the one about my professor, I decided I needed to track Mary down. I needed to know what had become of her. Mom wasn’t any help, but I had her yearbook do to some confusion when I moved out. So I didn’t need her. Well, I didn’t need her help to do this. Without that, I was still able to find Mary. Or what was left of her.
Because she’s… she’s.. Well, she gone. She died. She…She...
Please tell me this isn’t real. Please.
(Music fades out. Beep.)