WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR MOTHER LEAVES YOU

My mother temporarily ran away when I was 12. The memory is foggy.

Mom was the first tragedy I ever saw coming.

I knew she would disappear one day. I imagined it over and over again. But I never thought it would affect the way I wake up.

I focus on the freezing air. Time frosts into crystalized dust as I listen for wind or animals or boots shifting in the snow, some sign that things are changing. But, momentum’s pause riots in silence. Nothing is happening. 

I have always lived with the sensation that no one can see me and when I’m alone, I indulge in anxieties about permanent disappearance.  

Mom says it’s puberty but I think puberty ends when your mother leaves you. This time, this morning, this is the final exterminating point of dependence. Stand up or freeze to death in the swallowing landscape of your childhood bedroom, the one that sits over the garage, exhausted by white and pink and the sounds of aging alternative rock bands from the nineties. 

I am 12 years old, I’ve been waiting to die since I was 8 and this morning is the perfect opportunity to lie still until I disappear. That’s how it works, I think. If you really try hard enough, you can push yourself into another dimension, that’s what’s fair. Whoever wants to die, should be able to die just by lying still, especially in the late waking hour of their mother’s disappearance and I know she’s gone because I should be downstairs by now and, for some reason, no one is yelling at me.

I watch the ceiling.

The stale glow-in-the-dark celestial stickers look particularly stupid now that destiny is broken. But, I’m used to waking up in the middle of a nightmare. So, I wait. I look around at all the other stupid things. The pink wallpaper; the white furniture; the boombox my aunt got me; the pile of CDs that I stole from my brothers, most of them sufficient for drowning out my parents yelling:

The Offspring, Conspiracy of One

The Goo Goo Dolls, Dizzy Up the Girl

Our Lady Peace, Spiritual Machines

I’ve memorized the Our Lady Peace. I scream it in my head.

We’re made to heal-ayeeyaya aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh

We’re made to heal-ayeeyaya aaaaaaaahhhhahhhhh ahhh ahhh ahhh

We’re made to heal-ayeeyaya aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh

Dad always yells at me for being sad.

“You can’t just lie here and be sad. It’s not right!” 

He thinks being sad is stupid. As if, sadness is a betrayal to the people who have given you life, the people who spend their life supporting you. Sad is selfish. Sad is rude. 

He’s probably right.

After all, Sad is the reason I have no friends, disordered eating and an obsession with suicide. It’s so selfish. I’m just so selfish. If I were a generous person, I would be happy. 

We’re made to heal-ayeeyaya aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh

We’re made to heal-ayeeyaya aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh ahhh ahhh ahhh

This song makes me cry. And Raine Maida, the lead singer, is so hot. I hope he marries me one day. He won’t.

What if I’m wrong and mom is downstairs? 

“Rachel, what are you doing?”

“Nothing.”

“Are you getting up?”

“Yeah.”

“Ok, well come on, please, please. Don’t keep the carpool waiting. Please. How many times do I have to ask?”

I’ve taught myself this trick to fight chronic worry: I lie on my stomach and press my face into a pillow until the tiny flashing lights in my eyes spread into a massive waste of light and nothingness. 

We’re made to heal-ayeeyaya aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh

Light shifts into whiteness. The pressure against my eyelids creeps into my throat and then my stomach. I might vomit. If I vomit, someone will find me. I love the idea of someone caring. I wish for it, trying to plan it. I’m so selfish.

I press harder into the pillow and then flip onto my back. Watching the ceiling, the sparkling in my eyes overcasts the celestial stickers with real stars. Everything is dark, speckled with blinking white lights. 

Mom talks a lot about Bobcageon. Maybe that’s where she is. Maybe she’s here, in the snow, under the stars.

I watch the doorknob.

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