Like a jerk, I went back to work after the funeral. I thought it might help…thought it might stop the anguished yelp that kept bursting forth from a throat that ached from too much crying. But it was naptime – the kids were all on their cots, asleep. So I crept into the stairwell, to sneak a smoke and weep.
Murray – the principal and my boss – found me sitting there. A lovely Jewish guy, both gentle and kind, he gently enquired, “Bubeleh, have you lost your mind? I know what you went through today. Is home you need to go – here you should not stay.”
Home? I thought as I drove out the school parking lot on auto-pilot. What home….the house on Milverton Street where we made love til you’d shout? Just a month ago I’d moved out. My new place in Warrensville Heights? It was ruined – haunted by the memories of our last angry fights.
I was cryin’ so hard I could barely see. And the sun had come out, shinin’ on my misery.
My car drove itself down Harvard Avenue. It parked itself in the driveway of my parent’s house, the childhood home I hadn’t visited in years, not since that fight with Daddy that’d ended with a suitcase and tears.
I couldn’t get out of the car. I couldn’t get out of the car. I remembered my .22 was in the glove box.
I had to get out of the car.
I stood on the front porch of my childhood home. Rememberin’ playin’ jacks with my sisters on our scabby knees. Studyin’ for endless spelling bees. Barbie dolls with Eleanor an’ Trish. Starin’ at summer stars, makin’ wish after useless wish.
The front door was open. I peered through the rusted mesh of the screen door, determined to turn around and leave if I saw any sign of my father. But he wasn’t there…just Ma, perched on the edge of the faded floral sofa, sewin’ buttons onto Daddy’s shirts while she watched the end of the afternoon soaps.
“Ma?” I called out as through the screen I peeked. I musta startled her – she leapt up an’ shrieked.
“Shit!” she swore, openin’ the door. “How long you bin standin’ there for? Wasn’t expectin’ no one today, an’ ain’t you sposed to be at work any way?”
“Ma,” I said. “Maaaaaaaaa…” My voice was a plaintive bleat. My eyes hollow holes of grief and defeat, I handed her the program from your funeral before falling, barely hearing my name, which she kept calling: “Kathy…Kathy. Oh Katherine, mah baby…” Pickin’ me up off the floor, sittin’ me on her lap as if I were four again (which is what I wanted her to do just then).
I cried and cried and cried and cried. And my mother (you do know she liked you ‘bout as much as your mother liked me?) stroked my hair and my cheeks as she sighed.
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