Trigger Warning: mentions of suicide
An acidic taste stung the sores in my throat.
I squinted at the nickel bolt as it retracted itself into the chipped woodwork. I watched as my mother dragged herself over the threshold to join me in the dismal, musky study. She donned a modest, unembellished frock. It was the colorless shade of a bottomless chasm. I thought she looked horrible. And yet, my mother was so cruelly flawless that she made even misery look tasteful. I shrank, recalling my own homely reflection.
“What’s the matter?” my mother asked, planting herself next to me on the warped hardwood floor.
“Just tired,” I lied, savoring our mutual bitterness as it wafted through the air.
She hummed disapprovingly. Anticipating her callous response, the blood drained from my face. I knew those searing globs had stained my eyes a hideous shade of crimson. Looking away from me, she pointed her glare at the painting above the fireplace. The ostentatious family portrait featured a view of our waterside estate.
“That’s horrible, Lorraine. Lying is such a tacky habit.”
The pressure in the room had shifted again. I was unsure if my brain was swollen, or if my skull had decided to shrink. The pain was excruciating. I was briefly worried that the truth might humiliate my mother. Then I remembered how my parents would shove us out the back door if we had a meltdown. They claimed it nauseated them. “Crying is a selfish habit. It will not be tolerated in this household.” I remember thinking they were merciful because they allowed us back in the morning.
“I want to die.”
“Go ahead. I’ll be right behind you.”
I received a haunting premonition of a coffin being lowered into our family burial plot. It was sizable enough to hold two bodies.
She shut her eyes briefly, pinching the bridge of her nose.
“I didn’t raise you to be a suicidal wench…”
I stopped listening to her and thought of those full pill bottles, resting upstairs in the right-hand drawer of my bathroom vanity.