7 Years

by Jim Taber

7 Years

It was cold, dark, and damp. The only light came from a solitary light bulb that hung from the concrete ceiling. It swung slowly back and forth in perfect harmony with my steady breathing. The only sound was my rhythmic heart beat, which seemed to echo through the dim corridor. The thick air smelled of mold, metal, and sulfer. I could feel the shame, humilition, and regret from the men in the surrounding cells, but none of those feelings belonged to me. These past six months have been hell, but jail is more of a home than I've ever known. Every day I would come home from school, or wherever I happened to be instead of school, to my mom passed out on our white leather couch, a bottle of jack daniels in her hand, and I remember hoping, wishing, PRAYING, that the twelve thousand dollar chandalier that hung over our living room would come crashing down on top of her. It was her fault that my father is dead, her fault that I've been left alone in this

world, and for that, I hated her.

My thoughts were suddenly disturbed by a harsh knocking. I rose from my stiff cot to see who the idiot was. The man was standing on the other side of the bars in the cell to my right. He was a scrawney guy, in his late 30's, tatoos covering most of his body, including his face. He violantly knocked on the cage with his bony fist, and I wondered how in the world that wasn't breaking his puny hand. He looked at me with a sceptical stare and yelled, "hey kid! I'm talking' to you! I said, why you in here? Huh? You try stealin' a pack of gum from toys r us or somethin'?" he began to cackle like he was the cleverest nobody on the earth. I stared right back into his black eyes and told him the truth, told him what got me into this rat infested pit. I told him the whole story, I couldn't stop myself. I told him about my good-for-nothing mother, about the huge fight that I got into with her right before I left the house for the last time in 6 months because

she wanted me to go get groceries, about how she claimed she had something important to tell me, about how I slammed the door in her face, stole her mercedes and my veteran uncle's ak-47 and instead tried to rob the very store she wanted me to get groceries from. He kept staring at me, but it was no longer a sceptical stare, it was a look of sheer disbelief. The man couldn't belive that the 17 year old kid he was looking at could be so heartless, but that's what 7 years of hatred will do to a boy. 7 years since I last smiled, 7 years since my dad died, 7 years of being an orphan, because my mother was dead to me. He slowly backed away and layed down on his cot without another word.

I layed back down on my cot and I wondered what life was going to be like once I got out of jail. Has my mom missed me? What will she say when she first sees me? Or will she even remember my face? The disgrace of the wealthy, stuck up, Wellington family is probably easier forgotten than forgiven.

I had just won the little league baseball state championships, so my parents took me to the casino to celebrate. It wasn't exactly what I had in mind, but they wanted to celbrate too, and I understood that, so I stayed in the arcade and played all of the colorful, flashing games I could get my hands on. What else would an estatic ten year old with a pocket full of tokens do? My dad was the coach of our team, so he went with a couple of his friends to the casino's bar to celebrate, even though he hardly ever drank. My mom, who said she was feeling "extra lucky" tonight, sat at the slot machines, wearing a smile as big as her heart. She didn't want to go to the bar with my dad because she never drank an ounce of alcohal in her life. I was playing a game called zombie wars when my dad came to get me. He called my name but he said it weird, I assumed he was drunk. I followed him and my mother out to our car. I thought it was funny because my dad kept

almost falling over and laughing on our way there. I climbed into the back seat of our cadillac, replaying in my head the double play that I made to win the game. I noticed my mom open the driver side door, but my dad stopped her. I couldn't understand everything they were saying, but I did hear my dad say, "this is my night, I just took my boy and his team to the state championships, so I'll drive if I want to!" So my mother, with only a moments hesitation, handed him the keys.

I woke to a raspy voice calling my name, "johnathan! Johnathan Wellington! Times up kid, let's get you out of here." The jail guard stood just outside my cell. He stuck a key into the lock and opened the large, iron door. He said "no one is here to pick you up kid, looks like you're on you're own." So I guess things haven't changed. Im still the ignored problem child of the richest family on this side of town. I'll just do the usual: go to the nearest ATM, get a few bucks, and take a bus back home.

Home. What is home? Most would say it's safety, shelter, and comfort. I say that's bull. For me, it's just a building, just rooms and a ceiling. There's no comfort, no shelter, no safety. Just hatred, anxiety, and lonliness.

The bus dropped me off at the end of my block. I could see my house from there, it's fourth story towering over all the other houses in the neighborhood, it's white stone roman columns reflecting the orange and purple of the setting sun, it's windows were dark, showing no signs of anyone being home. I walked to the giant mahogony front door and knocked, but there was no answer. Must be my mom is out to the liquer store to get more of her southern poison. I checked under the floor mat, and sure enough, the spare key was still there. I walked through the front door and shut it behind me, the boom of the ten foot door being shut echoed through the massive entry room. I took a right into our dining room, the large chairs that lined the twelve foot long table begged for some company, the candles of the center piece longed to be lit, but me and my mother never dined here. I used to throw a tv dinner in the microwave and eat it in my room alone. I did,

however, notice something out of place on the table, It was an envelope who's front read: "Johnny, please read this. " What could this possibly be? The only person who ever called me Johnny was my mother, before she became an alcohalic anyways. Has my mother finaly had enough? Is this her way of telling me she's ran away? In a letter? She never has been able to say a word to me after the night my father died. Filled with anger and curiosity, I ripped open the envelope and started reading.


I'm sorry you have to hear this this way, especially after we haven't spoken in so long. I miss your smile, your laugh, your eyes. I miss going to the park with you and your father, but I know that things are no longer the way they used to be. I want to say I'm sorry, I am so very sorry. I know you blame me for your father's death, but I would too if I were you. I made a mistake, I know, and I realize all the pain I have caused you. I also want to appologize for being such a terrible mother since he passed. I started drinking to ease the pain, to feel comforted, but we both know that comfort soon turned into addiction for me. The only time I ever saw you was at night when you slept, because I knew that was the closet I would probably ever be to you again. Now, with that out of the way there is something else I must tell you. Johnny, I have liver cancer from drinkning so much. They have given me four weeks to live. I know that by the time you read this I

will probably be gone. I'm so sorry, but now that you're gone, there is no one to care for me and I am going to the hospital tomorrow. I hoped to see your shining smile one last time before I die, but I know that this is no longer a reality. These past 7 years have been anything but easy for us, but I want you to know that I love you johnny, I always have, and I always will.

Please forgive me,

Your loving mother


It was cold, dark, and damp. The only light came from the last few rays of the December sunlight, which crept through the dusty windows. The sun was setting in perfect harmony with my slowly sinking hands that placed the letter back on the table. The only sound was my rhythmic heart beat, which seemed to echo through the dining hall and up to the very top corner of the cathedral ceiling. The air smelled of dust, mahogony, and leather. I could feel the hatred, arrogance, and apathy that this house has held for the past 7 years, but these feelings no longer belonged to me. I noticed tears streaming down my face, around my lips and off my chin on to the letter that layed on the table. This was what my mother was trying to tell me that night, and I slammed the door in her face. If I just would have listened... If I just would have stopped and heard what she had to say, I could have been there with her when she died. I could have held her hand and told her

I loved her, but instead she died in a hospital room without her only son to comfort her. What have I done? I couldn't just swollow my pride and say "I'm sorry mom, I love you and I forgive you." Instead, I killed my mother. It was me they were celebrating for that night, it was me that started her addiction, me who left her to die alone and hopeless.

I walked out of the kitchen, up the marble staircase, and down the hall, to my room. Took my stash of money out from under the matress, and walked out of my house. But this time the money wasn't to rent a motel room to stay at for a night, it wasn't to buy a new knife from some underground dealer, it was to buy the groceries my mother sent me out to get over a half a year ago.

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