six small words

All day long I had envisioned stopping off at the CVS on the corner of Franklin and Lake Street to pick up a bottle of Rumchata. It was on the way to picking up Sophie and I was in dire need of a drink. And Rumchata was such a drink I could drink without any problems. None whatsoever. (Oh could I drink and drink that milky goodness.)

Just as I picked up the white bottle, my phone vibrated. I looked at the message from my mom: Hospice is saying any day now.

Instantaneously, I was suffocating inside that corner CVS store. I unzipped my jacket and looked at the message again. Six small fucking words that said so much. My heart started beating fast, the burn of vomit crept into my throat, tears fell from my eyes.

Take a deep breath, I told myself over and over again wiping away the tears.

I walked around the store cradling the bottle of Rumchata, trying to tell myself to remain calm, trying to remind myself I was inside a store and not in my car or home where I could react any way I wanted. I tried reminding myself that this wasn’t completely unexpected news. Clearly. Hospice had been visiting my grandmother for nearly a month at that point so I knew the news would come one day when I would learn there were days left.

I guess I just didn’t think I’d be inside a fucking CVS store buying Rumchata to drown my sorrows in whilst my four year old watched Dora that night.

Once I gathered enough strength and hid enough tears, I went to the counter by the door and purchased the Rumchata. I wasn’t carded, of course, because my hair had become quite silver the past several months.

I walked out of that corner CVS store and so badly wanted to open that bottle right then and there and take a swig.

Or ten.

But I had my sweet Sophie yet to pick up from daycare right down the street.

***

“Is everything okay,” Miss Carrie, the director at Sophie’s daycare asked when she saw me. I quickly averted my eyes to the log-in sheet and just nodded my head.

Sophie yammered on the whole ride home, but I’m not sure what she said. All I could think of was the impending holidays. Thanksgiving to be exact. It was Grams favorite holiday and I just couldn’t imagine it without her. It was the one time every year when everyone would gather together to feast, fight, and fart around. We laughed and cried on Thanksgiving. Voices and eyebrows were raised quite often. But we were all there, in one place, together as a family.

That was all going to change and realizing that made me nearly have to pull the car to the side of the road.

Gram was dying and so was our family.

***

Gram always remained a constant in my heart and thoughts, but I couldn’t have ever imagined a corner store having such a hold on me… but it did. Because from that day forward, every time I drove past that street corner, I thought of her.

party

The smell of smoke lingered in the air, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find the source.

As we walked around the crowded house, a pillow of smoke appeared down a hall that I thought lead to the front door. The closer I got to the pillow, I could see through and beyond it and into the room where the smoke erupted from. A half dozen people sat in a circle on the floor of the otherwise barren room, candles burning outside of the circle, taking hits off a bong and passing it around. One girl caught my eyes and smiled and nodded as if to ask if I wanted some. I mouthed no thanks and kept walking like I knew what was happening, where I was going.

It was just like a scene from a teen flick where all the underage kids gather in someone’s home whose parents went away for the weekend and partied partied partied. Music bounced from every surface. You had to shout to talk to someone and you had to really pay attention if you wanted to hear what someone else was saying. Everyone had a cup or a can or a bottle in one hand and a cigarette in the other. The house soon became the inside of a smoking cigarette, and we were all the itty pieces of tobacco on fire or about to be set on fire and inhaled into someone’s system.

I don’t know what the fuck I was thinking going along with my cousin to this damn party. It’s just not who I am, even if I think it’s what I want. Still, I went along. Stupid girl that I am. I hoped maybe someone would notice me. I hoped I’d make eye contact with a guy who wanted to keep looking at me. I hoped he’d approach me and we’d talk and sneak away to a more private area. I hoped we’d get along fantastically and he’d want my number and we’d start dating. I hoped I’d finally find out what it was like to make out with someone.

None of that happened though. It never did.

I just followed Shayla around the party like my little sister toddles after Ma, telling her, in my mind, that we should leave: Let’s just go to White Castle and have some sliders. 

“Did you see him?” Shayla asked as soon as the cold air from outside smacked us in the face. “He was leaning against the sink in the kitchen. He’s wearing a black leather jacket.”

“I didn’t, sorry.”

“How could you miss him? He’s beautiful!”

Our feet crunched the dead leaves on the ground as we shuffled through the grass toward the back of the house.

“Where are we going now?” I asked.

“There has to be another entrance near the kitchen,” Shayla said with a smile.

Just then I thought I would vomit. I didn’t think I could go through with going in the house again. I started breathing heavily and forced myself to think of something other than feeling the tears well inside and the burn in my throat. How I wished I hadn’t let Shayla talk me into going out with her. How I wished I could be anywhere but there.