This month’s photo fic is brought to you courtesy of this photo and the really long shower I just took.
“Hey, what’s going on? You passed Mackie’s,” my mother said, twisting around to look at the party store behind us.
Taking a deep breath, I counted to ten in my head and watched the windshield wipers flop back and forth, not doing nearly enough to clear the rain from the glass.
“I need cigarettes.”
“I brought you a carton when I picked you up,” I reminded her.
She fell silent for a moment, pouting before trying again. “I’m really thirsty, and it’ll be miles before we find another place that sells Diet Pepsi.”
I tightened my grip on the steering wheel. “There are some cans in the cooler in the back seat.”
She glanced behind her but didn’t move to take one. Not that I’d expected her to. Sighing, she said, “I just wanted to say hi to Mack.”
I couldn’t stand that awful, whiny tone she’d adopted, so I ignored her and kept driving.
“Sarah-Beth…” Her voice had taken on a hard edge I was accustomed to.
I blinked back tears. “You know that’s not why you want to go there.”
Don’t you take that tone with me, girl.” She shoved a cigarette between her lips and dug through her purse for her lighter. ”
I chanced a glance away from the rain-wet road to look at her. “If you’re just going to crawl back into the bottom of a bottle on your first day out, why the fuck did you bother going to rehab in the first place?”
Pain bloomed along the side of my face as she tried to slap me, but ended up scraping her nails down the side of my face.
“You turn this goddamn car around, right now, and take me back to Mackie’s.”
I whipped the ancient Olds into a u-turn and slammed on the brakes as hard as I could, not caring that her forehead bounced off the dashboard, since she’d refused to put on her seatbelt earlier. She’d survive. I hadn’t been going that fast. Shutting off the car, I yanked the keys out of the ignition and grabbed my purse from between the seats.
“What the hell?” she snarled.
I blinked back tears and pushed open my car door, wincing as the metal groaned loudly from the damage it had sustained last time my mother drove it. “I’m not going to watch you do this again. I can’t.”
“Where are you going?” The whine was back.
“Away from here.”
Away from you. I know we both heard the words I didn’t say.
I glanced at her once more before I got out and stood in the cool spring rain. The scent of wet earth and cow manure from the nearby dairy farm mingled with the buttercups that grew in fits and starts along the deserted road.
Moving to the back of the car, I opened the trunk tossed the keys inside then slammed it shut. She hadn’t had her license in years. I wasn’t about to leave her in a position to drive and possibly hurt someone.
I turned and started walking in the opposite direction, the rain pelting my skin and dampening my sundress and my hair. I walked until I knew that if I turned around, I wouldn’t be able to see the car. I walked until my feet hurt, sliding around in my now soggy flip-flops. I walked until rain ran into my eyes and I was completely soaked all the way down to my underwear.
Goosebumps beaded my skin, and I began to shiver. But I barely felt the cold. For the first time in my life, I walked away from all the pain and drama she brought with her. It was as if the rain washed away the residue of years of guilt and hurt. For the first time in my life, I felt clean.