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Don't Kill Me Now (I'm Not Ready To Die) Part 4
“My mother’s dead,” she blurted out, in the middle of our calm conversation about the future. “My mother is dead, and I found her that way. I had to be the one to take care of the situation, just like I’ve always been.”
There wasn’t much for me to say at that particular moment, except for the oh-so-original ‘I’m sorry,’ that didn’t quite fit the circumstance. So, I did what little I could, and said nothing. I let her continue:
“She was on the couch. Dead, like I said. Face stuck in the cushion of the couch, like I had seen her the night before, when I thought she’d been asleep, but no; she was dead. She was dead that whole time, and I didn’t even know; it didn’t even cross my mind.
“Last night, after I left here, I went straight home. I noticed Andrea was gone, but it didn’t mean much, she usually was. All the lights were turned off, so I went in and turned one on. The overwhelming smell of disgusting was almost enough to make me puke. It wasn’t until a few minutes later, when my mom wouldn’t wake up that I realized that smell was her. It was awful.”
Yes, I thought, it is awful. Trust me.
She quieted, letting it all sink in again, I assumed. She lay back against my arm, relaxing into me.
My father had gone to get some food that wasn’t repulsive hospital food, so it was just Claire and I in the room.
After long moments of silence, the only noises audible were the ones coming from the ‘death’ machines next to me telling me I’m still alive, I knew what I had to say.
So I said it, “Claire, there is something very important about me that you need to know.” She looked up at me with her pale, beautiful face, beckoning for me to go on. “When I was 6 years old, I saw my mom kill herself.” It might have been the first time I had said those words since I was 10 years old.
Like me, though, she had nothing to say. I mean, honestly, what do you say to something like that? Besides, it wasn’t that I even wanted her to say anything; I just wanted her to know.
“My dad was on a business trip that night. He left me home with her. He didn’t know, though; I mean, he didn’t know she was suicidal, neither of us did, so it’s not like he really did anything wrong by leaving me with my mother. Anyways, after he left that night, I saw her snorting something up her nose. At the time, I thought it was candy you ate with your nose,” I laughed at my 6-year-old-self ridiculousness. “But, of course, it was crystal meth. She got high, and when I went into my room, she shot herself in the kitchen, as if I wouldn’t notice. When I heard the loud bang, I ran out of my room, and found her sprawled on the kitchen floor, her blood spilled all around her,” my voice started to crack as I finished my sentence, “With a bullet hole in the side of her head.”
Claire pulled my clutched hand off of my leg, holding it in hers.
“Don’t say anymore, Eric. You’re dad told me what happened.” She said, guiltily.
“Oh. I’m surprised…” I mused. “I mean, I don’t think he’s ever told anyone about that. Most people who know my dad already knew, though, but still. I think that means he likes you,” I said, smiling, and poking her in her ticklish spot on her side. I sometimes found it amazing how much we already knew so much about one another.
She squealed with laughter, and the good mood came back, although we both just spilled our hearts about the people who’ve hurt us the most; we still made each other laugh like crazy in the midst of sorrow. I realized, once again, just how perfect Claire is for me, and I couldn’t imagine one day, one moment, without her.
“I’m out of this place in two days. Can you believe it? This is all our relationship has known, this hospital room.”
“That’s not true,” she said, reminding me.
“Oh, well, that doesn’t really count, considering I was dead at the time…” We both laughed again.
“I’m kind of excited,” she said. “You can take me out somewhere. Well, not quite yet,” she added, pointing to my leg.
“You think that dumb old thing is going to stop me from taking a pretty girl out to dinner?” I smiled at her, filling my heart with happiness when she smiled back.
“Well, yes. You can’t exactly walk.”
“I’ll get a wheel chair. You can push me, right?”
Her laugh sounded like silver wind chimes blowing in the wind. It made my heart swell. I could never think of getting enough of her laugh, her smile, her breath. It amazed how much I loved this girl in the little time that we knew each other. People say that love at first sight doesn’t exist, but it’s Claire and I’s story that makes me think otherwise. I’ve never been a romantic, always treating girls like dirt, not really caring for the sentimental crap, but here I am, at seventeen, ready to live my whole life with the girl beside me.
She wrapped her arms around my waist, laying her head on my chest. Her eyelids fluttered, obviously tired. I assumed she was staying here tonight, and I was glad. I rested my head on top of hers, holding her right where she was, not ever wanting to let go. Her body melted right into mine, securing that hope.
As she fell asleep, my father walked in with the to-go food he brought from the Chinese restaurant a few blocks down. He looked at Claire, asleep on my chest, and quietly nodded.
He sat the food on the table desk beside my bed, dividing into each meal. Before he could finish, I brought up the topic that broke Claire’s heart.
“Her mom died,” I bluntly stated, clarifying why she was collapsed on me.
“That’s terrible.” He said, in his slow, typical old-man monotone.
“Yeah, just…terrible.” I said, mockingly, a little peeved that that’s all he could say. “She told me you told her about mom.”
He looked up from what he was doing, shocked to hear the words I just spoke, apparently. His jaw slightly dropped, barely visible. It snapped back up, right before he spoke: “Yeah. I did. I thought she should know. I figured you weren’t going to tell her.”
“Well, I was, dad! That’s not your place to say! This is my relationship. I’ll tell her what she needs to know, when she needs to know it.” I began to raise my voice, and remembered Claire was asleep. I brought down the volume, “I plan on being with her, all of my life. She’s going to know every little thing about me; more than you do, dad, which really isn’t that hard, considering you don’t know much in the first place. You think you do, but you don’t. Why are you even here, anyways?” I asked, honestly wanting to know. I didn’t mean for it to sound so harsh, but my rage with him was starting to show, what with the frustration of this whole mess.
I was angered; angered at Claire’s mother, for not being the mother Claire deserves. I was mad at her for dying on that stupid couch for Claire to find her. I was mad at my mother, for killing herself with me there; for not being the mother that I needed. I was mad at my father for not being there when I needed him, and then just showing up here after I almost kill my own self, as if he actually cared. And then for telling Claire something she didn’t need to know yet.
My dad still stood by the table, although he’d been finished for a while, staring at his hands.
“I’m here because you’re my son. I’m here because, even though it hasn’t seemed like it the last few years, I love you more than anything in the world; more than beer, more than cigarettes, more than your mother, more than air itself. I’m here because I haven’t been. I’m here because you almost died in a car wreck, because you were drunk, because that’s how I raised you. That’s all you ever knew, because of me. And you almost died from it; and that’s my fault. That’s why I’m here. If you choose to make me leave, I will take that, because it is your right to say so, but I’m going to be by your side for as long as you’ll let me, to try the best that I can to make up for even a little bit of those years of your life that I took from you. I can’t apologize enough, there is no way I can ever make it up to you, but I’m going to try.”
I saw the truth spilling from his mouth, and within a second, felt it too. The simple hope of having a real family suddenly struck my heart; I felt like I had my father back, just with those few sentences. I had the love of my life, lying here in my arms. And I had my life; almost lost, but completely found now, and in full focus, loving every second of it.
I’m going to marry him, I thought to myself, listening to Eric and his father’s conversation. Yeah, I am.