Momma charged into the house; her eyes wore a glaze that whispered of dreams lost to this nightmare. Her mouth was set in a rigid line, and I could see that she was frantic with worry. Her actions would show none of her trepidation. She took full control of the next thirty minutes.
She started by looking at the wounds. She stepped around Bobby without a word to anyone, and he knew to get out of the way.
As she pulled the towel from Gram’s wrist I said, “I just saw it. It’s not bad.”
Momma looked at the scratches on her mother’s wrist, and even though she didn’t actually do so, there was a visible sigh of relief.
“What the fuck is your problem?” Momma looked up into Gram’s face as she spoke, but before Gram could say a word Momma asked her, “Are you fuckin’ stupid?”
Gram’s face twisted into an angry snarl, and she started to speak, but the words were more incoherent blathering.
“And you’re fuckin’ drunk.”
The accusation was laden with hurt and anger; Gram cringed away from it like a hand was sure to follow, aiming to slap the alcohol out of her. It never came.
Just then Dave spoke up, apparently hoping to finally get the sympathy he was due. “Robin, she wa…”
“You better shut the fuck up, you little motherfucker. My mother has been sober a long time. Then you come along… look at her. This is your fault. So, you better just shut the FUCK UP!”
Dave huffed and puffed like a sharp caught with a sleeve full of aces, but uttered not a word. From the look in Momma’s eye, it was a good thing he didn’t.
Just then an ambulance pulled up out front. Momma went out the back door to usher them in that way; the front door had long ago been nailed shut. She held the door open for them, and I heard her talking up a storm.
“She had a few drinks, mixed her pills with it and had an accident. It looked really bad at first, but once we cleaned it up it looks like she’ll be fine.”
“What kind of accident?”
“She scratched herself up pretty good, but we can’t figure out how. She’s too fucked up to tell us.”
“Okay, well we’re here, and we have to at least look at it.”
They did, and the police came, but by then the paramedics had bandaged her up and never acted like they suspected anything was wrong, so they all left us there with Gram. Who was fading fast. She was hanging her head and unwilling to attempt conversation anymore.
Momma went through the house looking for sharp objects. She took knives—even the plastic butter knives you get with those prepackaged utensil pouches that come with to-go orders—she took pins and razors, anything that had an edge went into a bag. When her search was finished, she called me into the kitchen.
“I’m going to go home. It’s late, and I have to work in the morning. She should be fine now. She’ll go to sleep. Tell her I’ll be back tomorrow. Call me if anything happens.”
“What the fuck is going on, Momma?”
“She used to do this all the time. Haven’t you ever seen the scars on her wrists?”
I shook my head.
“Well, when she gets drunk, she will cut herself. Usually it is just to get attention, but sometimes… sometimes she really tries. Anyway, get some sleep.”
I kissed my Momma good night for the first time in months, and she left as quickly as she came. Bobby had gone back to bed when the paramedics arrived. Dave was shuffling Gram to their bedroom. So I went into the back bedroom once again and laid down on the love seat to finally get some sleep.
“What’s she doin’?” Bobby asked from the darkness. He had been lying there quietly, no doubt reliving the last hour over and over.
“Goin’ to bed, Dave is putting her to bed anyway.”
“Kay. Fuckin’ crazy right?”
“Fuckin’ crazy.” I echoed.
There was no more chatter, nothing really to say. Fuckin crazy had summed it up nicely. Before long, I heard the deep, rhythmic breathing that will betray anyone as asleep. I too fell into sleep quickly; it was fitful and restless sleep but deep nonetheless.
Some time later, I was startled awake by a noise. I wasn’t sure what I had heard, wasn’t even sure I had heard it in the real world and not just in my dreams. My ears listened intently for a few minutes, but there was nothing there.
I closed my eyes again, trying to doze for the third time that night when it came: a shrill voice coming from the inner part of the house.
“What is that… where did you get that… give it to me… HEY, give it to me, NOW!”
I ran for the door and heard Bobby right behind me. We were headed back to the dining room.
to be continued…