My mom called out to me from her bedroom. This was where she spent most of her time for the past few years. She rested comfortably on her bed, watching ridiculous court television shows and petting our dog, who seemed to be the only one in the family who wanted anything to do with her anymore. That may sound pretty harsh to say, but when your mother, the person responsible for teaching you all of your morals and basically one of your models of perfection, lies to your face enough times, you become desensitized to a lot. When you’ve seen this same godlike person stumbling around the kitchen in a drug-induced stupor enough times, nothing seems too harsh to say.
My father was busy working all of the time since my mom had been out of work. Besides that, trying to get him to talk about his feelings was about as practical as trying to get a dog to ride one of those Segways that you constantly see douchebags and yuppies riding.
And at 18 years old, I knew everything about everything. I blamed her for it all. It was her lack of self-control that lead her down this path, not the fault of the drugs or even the doctors who prescribed them. It wasn't her friends' fault who would get her the drugs secondhand and were never looking out for her best interests. It wasn't that the nature of her job as a cocktail waitress kept her in pain all of the time, which was what initially got her the prescription. The very same job she kept for all those years to provide food for me and put me through music lessons. In my mind none of that had anything to do with her affliction, and I despised her lack of self-control, promising myself I would never let that happen to me.
"I'm coming, hold on."
I finally responded, with a prepared, yet undeniably annoyed tone in my voice. I knew what was coming next, the guilt trip. 'Why don't you come talk to me more often Michael?' or 'Don't you still love me Michael?' Meh. I would never have the balls to tell her that I may be undecided on that second one. Instead I kept to myself in my bedroom, the only place where I really felt comfortable anymore. I was already an introvert by nature, and this ongoing saga only helped push me in that direction more.
I minimized whatever filth I was currently into on the computer and left my sanctuary. I put on a walk and emitted a general aura that getting up to talk to her was quite the energy draining task, if not the most annoying thing I had to do all day. My hope was that this would eventually stop the constant bickering and requesting of menial tasks, but her resolve was strong. Which is to say, she could give a shit less how I felt about it.
I made my way to her room, or her cell as it seemed, imprisoned by sheriff Xanax. The first thing I noticed in the room was the Gazelle Freestyle leaning on the wall, one of those elliptical training machines that got about as much use as good judgement at a metal concert. If this machine was to imitate the grace and beauty of a gazelle, it certainly looked like one that had been shot and mounted on the wall, drained of its essence. She laid under the covers almost all of the time, these poor covers that have taken the abuse of so many cigarettes burned into them while my mother fell asleep with one carelessly planted in her mouth. She wasted more cigarettes this way than a villain in a movie wastes bullets. The first few times I came across her sleeping with a cigarette in her mouth I woke her up and chastised her as well as a teenager can to a parent. After that, I figured she would learn after burning herself enough times.
It was interesting watching her bedroom deteriorate at the same time as her body and mind. The floor probably got vacuumed once every five months, and that was only when I had gotten disgusted enough to do it for her. My dad slept on the couch, every night. He told me it was because the bed hurt his back. He must've thought I was fucking clueless. I don't blame him, I would have slept on the couch too. Except it would've been a couch in a different house. But he was a lot stronger than me.
The small lamp was there to do the sun's job and keep the room light, as any natural light had not been able to get around the blinds for months. The dusty television was playing some Judge Joe Brown, and two giant neanderthals were bickering about how one of them was too violent while injecting the other one with steroids and that the fight that ensued was in self-defense rather than a blatant assault. I wondered if they had a special breeding ground for people this stupid.
My mom shouted my name again, and instantly I was in distress. I was standing right there in front of her, wearing the same basketball shorts and t-shirt I always wore and looking as recognizable as ever, yet she was calling out to me as if I was still in my bedroom, or even in some other distant place.
"What mom? I'm right here," I answered, trying to remain calm.
"Michael, grab your sled."
What? Utter confusion is the only way to describe what I felt at this point.
"Grab my sled?"
"Yeah, I want you to go down the hill with me. It's our turn."
"Mom, we're in your bedroom. I don't even own a sled. Did you take your pills without eating again? How many times do we have to do this?" I swiftly dealt the blow, making sure she knew I wasn't going to let her off easily.
"Oh," she sighed. Apparently I wasn't the only one who was confused.
"I thought we were at the mountains."
I was one or two fights away from being completely done with this battle. How could she think she was at the mountains? There were beads of sweat on her forehead, most likely from laying under the covers in the middle of the day in Las Vegas heat. Her thin, sticky hair that hadn't been washed in a few days showed the evidence too. I thought of days past where she took care of herself, her hair beautifully crafted and her bedroom a blueprint for a clean and neat room. I had seen her fumble words before, and barely be able to keep her balance, but this was something completely different. She seemed perfectly coherent, yet it was as if we were two people occupying the same physical space, but we were in two different worlds.
"Are the people from the internet here yet?"
"What people from the internet?" I tried to have a conversation with her, maybe bring her back to reality. I thought maybe logical talking could somehow bring her back to the real world. For her the hallucination was very real.
"The people that are coming to get Daddy, are they here yet?"
When you hallucinate, there is no filter discerning what you should and shouldn't talk about. All of those deep seeded fears will come up along with other random fantasies and memories. Fear of computers is pretty common in older people. My mother was old when she had me, so she was already in her fifties by the time I was a teenager. My dad had gotten into technology and the internet, but it was something that completely baffled and apparently scared my mom.
I shook her a bit, trying to wake her up from the daze she was in. It seemed as if she could hear me, but couldn't see me or feel me. I shook her a bit and finally her eyes locked with mine. They were glazed over and seemed to lack the vibrant greens they once had. I looked at her and saw a confused and scared woman, unsure of what was happening to her.
told myself I hated her.
"Everything is going to be okay. I'll figure this out. I'm here for you. Just stay awake mom, I love you."
She didn't say anything for a few seconds. My damp hands rested still on her shoulders. I wondered how to fix this, how I could help. I had done enough reading on the subject to know that if hallucinations are serious, they can cause serious damage and sometimes result in death. She probably needed a hospital, and strict doctor's attention. But instead she suffered in her cell. She finally looked up at me.
"Michael, where is your jacket? It's freezing out here."