A Broken Road

by Nathanael Swenson

It was a late October afternoon and while many families were in their homes having dinner, or perhaps watching television together, a car pulled to the side of Farm Road 117 in Orange County, Missouri. While the car was of a beautiful silver, and was no less than a luxury vehicle, the woman driving alone inside wanted nothing to do with the car or anything else. This womans name was Tina and as she sat in the stalled car crying, the autumn wind blew gently through the trees of many colors. Her crying had caused her eyeliner and mascara to smear, giving her the illusion of two black eyes. Her sobs reverberated through the air for she was no longer trying to contain her sorrow. To her right, two squirrels quickly jumped from one tree to another as thoughts of loneliness and worthlessness flashed through her mind. She had driven on this old back road not only to get away from her daily problems, but to finally do what she had been wanting to do for months now. Tina stopped crying for a moment to reach over in the passenger seat where her purse was located. Grabbing it and slowly moving it towards her, she reached in and pulled out her bottle of Effexor from the pharmacy that she had just come from. The smiling lady who had handed her the meds would never know that she had involuntarily played a part in a tragic incident.

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Thirteen miles away, an 8 year-old little boy was pacing around his living room nervously. He had been waiting for his mother to come home for three hours. Maybe she just went to do some more shopping, he kept telling himself, but he knew that this was unlike his mother. She never liked her son to be home alone for more than thirty minutes. Nick had tried calling her cell multiple times from the home phone, but it had gone straight to her voicemail each time. His dad would be home soon but that didnt ease his worry for his mother. Tears started to appear in his eyes, for he really loved his mother and her well-being was always the first thing on his mind.

Perhaps dad knows where mom is at, he thought to himself. He figured that everything would be all right but just in case something really was wrong, he got on his knees and said a prayer. He asked God that everything would be all right, that his mother would return home safely. When he finished, he sat back down on the couch and closed his eyes. His heart was beating fast in his chest, so to calm himself he hummed a church hymn that his mother had always sung to him when he was scared. Everything will be alright, he told himself. The boy didnt believe it though. Mom was in trouble and he knew it. As he began to sob, he walked to his room and sat on his bed holding his baby blanket that hed had since he was born. It was the only thing that would comfort him right now.

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Tina thought about her son. How his short hair was the same brown color as hers. How he had the same deep-green eyes as hers. And with that, she began to sob even louder, for she didnt know what would become of her son. His dad, whose name was Rob, was truly nothing more than his step-dad, for his biological father had left when he was two weeks old. Nicks mother had married his step-dad when the boy was only two years-old. Every day since then, Tina had dealt with Robs pornography addiction. She did not want her son around a man that was a mental adulterer, seeing it as a gateway to other things, such as Robs anger. She remembered coming home early one morning from her night-job as a waitress at a local night club and walking into their bedroom just to see her husband jump up out of the computer chair and pull up his pants. She had hoped that she was wrong, but when she went and looked at the computer screen, she ran out of the room crying. 7 years of counseling and he wasnt even trying to quit.

Tina slowly took off the cap with her right hand as it shook with her sobbing. She looked inside and, for a second, admired the way the small bit of light in the sky reflected off of the capsules. Reaching near her foot, her hand caught hold of a bottle of water. A bottle of water that she had bought at a gas station no more than 45 minutes ago. A bottle of water that she had bought for one purpose. As she reached for it, she thought more about her son and how worried he must be, but also of the fact that without her around anymore, he could have more happiness in his life. Perhaps this would be an eye opener for Rob. She knew that Rob wouldnt dare lay a hand on Nick for he was a superstitious man and would most likely be afraid that she was watching over her son.

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Rob was 38 years old and was driving home from his job as a Police Officer. It was now 6:30 PM and he was exhausted. As he was driving home he couldnt help but feel that something was a bit wrong, for when he plugged his dead cell phone into the car charger, he saw that he had six missed calls from home. Six missed calls from Nick more than likely. He quickly dialed home and continued driving. When he heard Nick pick up, he kindly asked what was wrong. When he heard his step-sons answer, he was almost angry. Why should he be worrying about his mother being three hours late? She is probably just shopping, he told himself. But in the back of his mind, he knew that something wasnt right; she wouldnt dare leave Nick alone like that and if there had been an emergency, surely she would have called to let him know. Rob told Nick that he would be home soon and that everything was going to be okay. That his mom was going to be okay.

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Tina put the bottle of pills aside and slowly put her head on the steering wheel. Clasping both of her hands into a fist she started praying: God, I know that what I am about to do could damn me but please, I beg of you, even though I will be in hell, let my absence be a blessing for my son, Nick. He is too young to understand exactly why I am doing this but you know. I know you know, for I pray to you often. I do want to know why I never received the blessings from you that I have begged for over and over. Rob is still addicted and my depression has worsened. I love my son with all my heart and I love my job as a teacher but I just cant go on thinking of how worthless I am. I cant go on thinking that my family is better off without me. I am sorry God I really am. A single tear rolled down her right cheek and, choking on tears, she said, Amen.

As soon as she finished, she reached for the pills. She looked inside the bottle, once again, and with one movement, poured all of the pills into her mouth. Tina thought for a quick second, here is the ultimate choice: you can spit them out or take them and die. She didnt like the thought of having such a big choice like that to make, but she had one all along and she blindly ignored it. She grabbed the water bottle and screwed the cap off violently. She then poured a bit of water in her mouth, and swallowed all of her Effexor. While her son and husband were at home hoping in their hearts (for they did both indeed love her very much), she sat in her car waiting, and, for the first time in a long time, she smiled for she knew that the pain would soon be over with and that her family would forever be free of her problems.

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