Last Words

by Chelsea Bylsma

"I love you, honey," said my mother in her normally slurred voice. I turned around and looked at her. She was slumped over on a couch, barely grasping an empty Vodka bottle. Our house reeked with the smell of vomit, so much that the gagging reflex had gotten the best of more than one guest before.

Turning slowly, I continued to walk up the stairs. "I wish I could say the same," were the last words I said to her. I shut the door behind me as I walked into my room. I turned off the light and collapsed onto my bed with a huge sigh. On the other sie of the room, the blinking play button on my stereo seemed like it was begging to be pressed.

Almost reluctantly, I stood up and stumbled over to it. The instant the button was pressed, the fantastically loud screaming started flowing through the surround sound speakers. I could hear the faint sound of my mom yelling from downstairs, but I turned the music up higher out of spite. After a while, the yelling became loud unintelligible noises; eventually the noises stopped. I wandered over to the other side of the room and dropped onto my bed. I took my glasses off and my dark room became a blur. My eyes felt heavy and before I knew it, I was asleep.

I groaned, rubbed my eyes, and reached under my bed to grab my alarm clock. The music had stopped by now and the house was dead quiet except for the occasional voice coming from the television downstairs. "Where are you?" I asked to no one in particular except for the clock when I couldn't locate it. When I finally felt the cold plastic of the alarm, I brought it up in front of my face; the bright red numbers on the clock read 1:17. I licked my chapped lips and tried to swallow, but I had been sleeping with my mouth open and it was dry beyond belief.

I threw the comforter off of my body and turned slightly so only my legs were off of the bed. I stood up ever so slowly, struggling like an elderly person might, and shuffled around the roon, feeling for the doorknob. After tripping a few times I finally found the door. When I opened it, a faint light shone from downstairs. It flickered, changed colors and seemed to dance on the wall. The light got darker as the television show went to a commercial. This was pretty unusual, because even though my mother was a drunk and she usually slept in the living room, I couldn't remember an occasion where she left it on.

With the faint light of the T.V. I was able to make my way down the stairs with minimal stumbling. I peeked my head into the living room before walking into the kitchen, and sighed as I saw the blur of my mother laying on the couch, passed out drunk. Peeking at the television, I saw that my mother was watching an overly excited man talk about blenders on an infomercial. I thought this odd because of all of the times she had expressed her hatred of infomercials. Reaching to an end table right next to me, I grabbed the T.V. guide and struggled to read what was scheduled for today. The blur made it almost impossible but after a while of playing what my mother called "trombone", I was able to see that infomercials had been playing for three and a half hours now. She couldn't have been sleeping for that long, but I looked and saw that she had not changed the channel. I looked at my mother, raised an eyebrow and spun around to walk out.

Continuing on, I ambled into the kitchen and reached up and opened a cupboard to get a glass. As iI was bringing my arm down to set the glass down, something caught my attention out of the corner of my eye. When the light flickered from the television, something on the floor underneath the liquor cabinet glramed. The screen went black for a moment and the shining stopped. When the T.V. show came back on, the light was dancing again in the shiny thing on the floor.

I walked over to the cabinet, careful to avoid the dinner table and chairs which were gathering dust due to lack of use. I couldn't remember the last time anyone had sat at that table and actually had a meal. Both me and my mother were too lazy to clean it but every once in a while it got an unintentional dusting when we cleaned up the paper's that tend to build up on top of the table. I knelt down next to the cabinet and squinted my eyes, revealing a mildly focused liquid spilled on the ground underneath it. I looked up and saw the open end of a tequila bottle sticking out of the ajar cabinet door, dripping slowly. I watched as a drip of the metallic liquid congregated at the edge of the neck opening and finally detached itself from the glass. As I watched, it increased speed and fell the short distance from the bottle to the floor, exploding as it splashed in the tiny puddle gathered below.

Curious, I opened the door up a little farther. The inside of the cabinet was a mess, all of the bottles were strewn all over and not a one was more than half-full. I hurried to the living room next to my mother, stumbling over even more bottles laying all over the floor around the couch. The coffee table in front of the couch only had one bottle of alcohol, two shot glasses, last week's T.V. guide and an ash tray with a still burning cigarette resting upon it's side.

I turned to my mother with an an angry look on my face, "Mama, wake up! Look at the mess you've made. You'd better help me clean this up in the morning, all of it! Hangover or not you're still responsible for..." My voice trailed off when my mother was unresponsive to my vigorous shakes. My heart started beating so fast there wasn't a rythm anymore, just a constant blur of noise. "Mama? Wake up, Mama," I whispered as I lightly patted her cheek with the end of my fingers. When she was unresponsive I began to tap a bit harder until I was essentially slapping her in the face.

I ran into the kitchen and picked the phone up off of its holder on the wall. I squinted at the numbers, trying to find the right conbination. The cord on the telephone restricted me from looking at my mother, as I paced up and down the small aisle next to the stove. I heard a click as the receiving side of the call answered the phone.

"9-1-1, what's your emergency?" said the almost robotic tone of a female receptionist on the other end of the line.

"I think my mother is dead! I-I-I walked into the living room and she was... she's not breathing! Y-You need to help me. Hurry!" I screamed into the telephone.

"All right, calm down, honey. Could you tell me your address?" she said in a now too-calm voice.

I started reciting our address of 15 years, "201 Luvern Avenue, Panama City Flori- wait, you know what state I'm in! J-Just come fast, please!"

"Alright, an ambulance is on it's way," droned on the woman.

"Thank you," I said as a parting message and hung up. I wondered immediately afterwards if the tone was a bad choice on my part and if she might have thought I was joking. I figured the only thing to do then was to sit and wait.

I returned to the living room and sat down on the couch next to my mother. I looked at her and reached my hand up to stroke her long blonde hair. Her makeup was smeared and her clothes were wrinkled, but she had something about her that was really genuine. I realized now for the first time that my mother was a fairly attractive woman; I had never really had the patience to get to know her or spend time with her.

The faint sound of sirens became more and more defined until the sound was deafening and the red and white lights were flashing through the large picture window in the middle of the room. For the first time in my life I began to weep, I mean really cry. I cried for my mother and her seemingly wasted life; I cried for how I treated her growing up, I was always disrespectful and demeaning her. I couldn't evoke the reasoning behind this behavior, yet it happened. Recalling these events, I realized that she was always trying to be my friend, more than a mother. She was very sensitive ans kind most of the time. Then the pang of guilt hit me like a semi-truck. I thought to myself, "maybe I caused this..." This thought caused me to sob now for the last words I said to her. I told her that I didn't love her. After she told me that she loved me, I had refused to return the favor. "I wish I could say the same."

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