The Looking Glass

Road Rage

Emma Jane Caponi '18

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Beep, Beep, Beep cut the room, and after every beep the silence seems to pressure me more and more. Stubborn and scared, I keep my eyes shut. Even though I should jump at the chance to see the world again, I keep my eyes cemented shut.  Just keep ‘em closed. Just keep your sight in dark.

I know exactly where I am. I know exactly what I did to be here, but for maybe a little while longer I can pretend like it’s nothing, and maybe it’ll become nothing. Maybe I’ll become nothing.  The last things that I remember hearing are sirens screaming and the scream of someone I think I know.  The last thing I remember seeing was flashing blue and red lights. I tasted the blood. It was like metal.  The only thing I could feel was excruciating pain circulating my whole body.  Most of all, I remember thinking: My dad is gonna kill me.

I hear my family making small talk.  I can tell by the way the sound carries that they’re sitting outside the room.  I hear my sister saying she’s “justa prayin’ it through.” Others add:

“If only..”

“He’ll haveta be okay.”

“If we had stahpped haim…”

All their talk is just making me down right nauseous. And one of the worst parts?   Is knowing I should be jumping for joy to be alive, knowing I should love them. And the very worst part, is that I know — I don’t. I don’t even care. I haven’t found it in me.

 Still with eyes closed, I hear Pa and Josh try and tip-toe into the room. I hear Pa’s Justin brand work boots and Josh’s squeaky Walmart sandals make their way across the sterile floor.

“These floors are mightee shinee Pa,” he whispers. I just hate the loving glance I know my Pa’ll give him. “Why is Eddie growin’ spaghetti out of his arms?” Josh’s voice rises; he seems to forget to be quiet. I realize how many IVs and wires are hooked up to me.

“It ain’t spaghetti,” I hear Pa’s voice drop.

“Then what is it?” Josh asks. I want to say, “It’s durn hospital equipment, ya dweeb,” but I keep my mouth shut and wait for Pa’s answer. Pa’s silence hangs, and Josh stops his questioning.  Josh knows something’s wrong. They linger for a moment or two, and then fade away like freshly planted seeds after a storm.

“If I had my druthers,” Ma sounds bitter, “we coulda had gotten them new-fangld fancy alerm systims, and Eddie wouln’t have guttn’ out.”

“I reckon yur rhiaght Nancay… riaght as dat there rain in dem clouds.” Pa’s words hung heavy. “It woz mah fault. I gun and told him to git on out of here and make somthin’ of ‘imself.”

“Sam, it ain’t much yur fault. Wur all ta blame.. Eddie too ev’n.”

I grimace at the words: Even Eddie. I couldn’t believe what she had gone and just said. Me, their son. In the hospital ‘cause of their actions, and they’ve got the balls to say its my fault.

“Mamma, I’m sleepy,” Lucille whinned.

“Alriaght, we’ll head on home,” Pa rises.

“Now ereyone, Lucille, Josh, Nancy, come on in here and say guudbye to Ed.”

I heard Josh, with them squeaky shoes, Lucille with them plastic princess heels, Ma with her work heels and Pa with the Justin boots come through the door. Four members. But something caught me off guard. Four. There is supposed to be more. Subtract me from the equation, and you’ve got five. But four was unexplainable. Sarah.

I was always able to hear her laugh from down the road, her foot steps from all the way in the storm cellar. I know that voice, and it’s not here.  Maybe she’s at home resting. Yeah, that’s it. I’m sure.  I’m tempted to open my eyes to see, but more so to ask the question I need an answ—–

A light motherly kiss stings my cheek. I freeze. Tense, I feel my heart shrivel up and disappear. A soft, “Ah luhve yew Edwurd” is gently whispered.

Don’t you dare blame me and expect me to care mother dearest. All thoughts of opening my eyes were murdered in their spot.

Sarah is fine. She can wait…  Everything drifts away.

 

Is it morning? Another day? I feel Josh’s presence and hear his heavy breathing. And even though my eyes are shut, he starts to speak:

“Mamma and Pa and Lucille and me been wait’n fur ya,” he sounds eager, “and ma gone and mussed’ her big ol’ inn-er-view.”

I soften, awe struck. Ma’d been talking about that job interview for a good while. It’d get my family outta debt, move us to a yankeetown far up north, and provide what Loosianna couldn’t.  And she missed it for me?

 A dark shade replaced the yellow glow. It must be night. I wonder how long I have been here.  The family has stayed with me throughout the entire morning, but said they had to leave around 1. Even though my eyes stayed shut, they told so much to their “unconscious Eddie.”  They told me their stories, each story important to who they were:

“Eddie hunny, I gut mah job inn-er-view moved! The companee wahs so gracious”.

“Ed I gots me a big ol’ promotion at work, how’s that for yah old man?”

“Cain yah even believe Ms. Pauline said ah did waile at the dance recitle?!?”

“Ah learned tah tie mah shoos all by mysalfe! And Mamma onlay halped a lil.”

But none mentioned Sarah. None. She didn’t show up. Not yesterday, not today. If she wasn’t going to come see me, then my eyes were staying closed.

My eyes remained closed against the light. It was plain and simple that I was in the hospital, and as long as I kept my eyes shut, the doctors were fooled and so were Ma and Pa.

I cain’t live laike this, in the hospital fer the rest of my life.  I argue in my head. But how would–

“Edwurhd. Ah know you ain’t able tah hur me, but ah jest needa get this out,”  Ma this time. I’ve got no choice but to listen. “Tahday I waaent tah mah jahb inna-view, ‘nd all’is wail. They called meh back ‘meadi-ate-lee, and Ed, huney, I’ve gaht the jahb.”

I had heard her talking about this interview for weeks now, even before the night…

For the few days I’d been lying in this bed, she’d been telling me everything I never knew: her childhood, and all the rough spots she’d had from her teenage years, up to marrying my Pa. She poured out words as if I was dying, and she wished she had told me sooner. They were the kinda thoughts you share with your best friend.

For awhile she talks about what her new employers said. Then she stops. She gently places her hand on my arm, and I don’t even want to flinch. I let myself feel her the light weight of her bony hand. I hear her breathing, but it’s not like it was earlier in the visit. It’s fragmented, broken, torn up like a puzzle that’s being put back in its box. She starts to say something, but pauses, takes a deep, ragged breath, and I hear words drop out of her mouth like raindrops off of leaves after a storm. Drops so quiet, so slow, hardly there, but still leave an imprint.

“Edwurd? I ain’t sure if yah can heaur meh, but ah love you.  ‘Nd ah know if ah could hayve anotha chaynce at bein’ your Ma, I wuud take mah time tah understand ya, ‘nd I wouldn’t layt that go. Truthfally Ed, I hayven’t been 16 in about 25 years, ‘nd ah forgit what yung feels like. Ah understand yur Pa ‘nd ah could be more fair, but, oh Eddie, I jest want my son back.” She’s shaking now, and tears are softly making muffled thuds on my forehead, sinking into my skin.

My Ma. The proudest woman I know, just told me she could improve. I’ve been telling her that since I was 11, and now she listens?  But she’s wrong. She can’t improve. She’s been right in everything she’s done. I’ve been too immature to realize. Just maybe I am wrong about everything. And there’s even a chance I might just love her back.

She gathers up her pieces and pulls herself towards the door. My eyes are tingling with urgency.

“Ma,” I croak.

She whips around, sprints to my side, tears spilling like vapor billowing out of a thundering train. “Mah boy, he’s alive… MAH BOY IS ALIVE AND WAIL,” she tries to yell hoarsely, choking on tears and laughter.

“Ma, ah love yew,”  I weakly toss out. For the first time in five years, I know I really mean it. She reaches out and rolls me into her arms. It’s a place I haven’t been in awhile, and I realize how I’ve missed it.

Josh slips into the room with distress circling his eyes. He pushes closer, and I cup his velvety curls in my hand.

“Ma?”

“Yayss bayby?”

“Whare’s Sarah?”

Ma takes a breath, “Yah know the accident wahs purddy bad. Both yew and Sarah were both in the ICU for dahys.” Her face darkened. “The docters didn’t know what ta say about either one ove yew…

‘Nd oh, Edwurd, Sarah died 20 minutes ago, asking for yew.”

 

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Road Rage