Mother Dearest

It was Friday night, she stood at the counter as soapy water slopped back and forth in the sink. She began dunking dishes in the water, scrubbing them, and then rinsing them off. She mindlessly did one after another, first the silverware then bowls and plates, then cups. Her fingers wrapped around a mug and prepared to submerge it in water when her gray-green eyes saw what was scripted on its surface. She slowly moved it away from the water, staring at it intently until a scream erupted form her throat and she threw down the mug with all her might. Hitting the floor the ceramic cup broke into many pieces, some of which bounced off the wood and cut the girl's bare legs and feet, but she didn't notice.

"How could they?" she thought. "How could they be so inconsiderate …so mean. I hate them," her screaming voice echoed in her mind. "Someone is going to be sorry for this.

* * *

Michelle Lount had been under a lot of stress lately, not only was she taking several hard classes and trying to be active in school and with her friends, but all household responsibility, including anything dealing with her four siblings, had been forced onto her shoulders. To make matters worse the only chore she had had to do before was to keep her room reasonably clean. Since it had happened her grades had dropped faster than a rocket reentering the atmosphere. It had been two and a half weeks since her mother had passed away from a cause the doctors couldn't explain. They had never seen anything like it. They thought perhaps it had been a combination of diseases, but they couldn't be sure. She had been sick for only a little over a month, then it seemed to go away, but now she was dead. It seemed like only yesterday Michelle had been with her talking in her parent's room when her mom had suddenly had trouble breathing, and then died before the ambulance arrived. She and her mother had always been very close, and she, her father, and siblings had not. To make matters worse earlier that day, a two and a half weeks ago, Jeff had broken up with her. After he found out about her mom he said it had been a mistake and asked if they could still go out, but Michelle had angrily responded, "I don't have time any more." Afterward she wished she had just said, "yes" but that was all done with now.

They had had the funeral and buried her mother, and everyone told her things needed to go back to the way they were. But how could they ever be the same? Aside from the fact that she had many new responsibilities she also had no one to go and cry to, when now, she needed someone most. Michelle didn't want to go back to school, she couldn't face her friends; she was an adult now. She thought all these things as she put on her mother's pants and blouse… now her pants and blouse.

* * *

As Michelle walked to school she thought about the mug. It had been her mother's favorite, given to her by all her children, stating "MOM" surrounded by flowers and hearts. Now it was ruined because someone had been insensitive enough to use it. As she recalled this, her anger returned and she began to shake in fury.

"Hey, Michelle," she vaguely heard a chipper voice greet.

"Just leave me alone," she yelled, turning to a surprised face. She recognized the face and after a moment it dawned upon her that she had just screamed at her best friend Lexi. "Oh my gosh," she said tugging on her long blonde hair. "Lexi, I didn't know it was you, I—"

Lexi interrupted, "It's fine, Michelle. Just relax." Lexi put her arm around the bewildered girl's shoulder. "Are you going to be okay?"

"Ya, but we better hurry or we're gong to be late for school.

* * *

When Michelle got home she was exhausted after her three mentally hard classes and her PE class, and all she wanted to do was go to bed. She knew she had to relish her few moments of silence before her siblings arrived. She went to the bookshelf and pulled out the photo album. Opening to her favorite picture of her mother, she smiled. Her mother was sitting in the middle of a field overgrown with wild flowers, looking happy and healthy. Michelle noticed her mother's shoulder length blond hair. I would probably look good with my hair like that, she thought. She heard the front door open and the house fill with noise. Sighing she got up to see what needed to be done.

* * *

Sitting in her AP Literature classroom waiting for the bell to ring Michelle almost fell asleep, but hearing, "I like your haircut," woke her with a start. It was Jeff. She loved literature, in fact it was her favorite subject, but because of him it was impossible for her to enjoy this class.

Instead of responding she glared and him, then began reading a book lying on her desk. When Jeff realized she wasn't going to talk to him, he walked to his seat.

Turning, Mike, the buy who had always annoyed her, said, "Brrr, did it just get cold in here." Pretending to shiver, he smiled and her eyes met with his blue eyes. She quickly looked away.

I know he's just trying to get me to loosen up, and its probably the first time he's actually been nice to me, yet all I want is for him to be unhappy…so I'm not different. Michelle glanced at the clock, one minute before class started. She gathered her things and went to the front of the room. "Um, Miss Wood, I'm suddenly not feeling well, I think I need to see the nurse."

"Alright dear," she said looking concerned. "Well, I hope you feel better."

* * *

Michelle sat in the huge leather chair in the living room, staring at the blank TV screen. Her temperature had been a little high so the nurse said she could go home. Suddenly she heard the front door unlocking. She jumped up from the chair; it was too early for anyone to be home.

The door opened and her father came in closing and locking it, he turned and saw her. His hand shot to his chest. "Oh my..."

"What?" Michelle asked.

His hand slowly went back to his side. Still breathing deeply he said, "For a moment I thought you were your mother... you look so different."

"How would you know?" she demanded. "You're always on business trips, it's hasn't even been three weeks since mom died and you still went on the trip."

"I told you, Michelle. I had to; I couldn't get out of it. It was very important to my work."

"And you're not important to this family? Daddy, we need you more," she shouted tears running down her face.

"I know, Princess, and I'm sorry," he said walking toward her, Michelle backed up, and he stopped. "I told them that I couldn't go on as many trips anymore. Why are you home, anyway?"

"I had a temperature," she coldly responded.

"Then you should go to bed, you'll get better more quickly if you do."

"Don't you have to go back to work?"

"Yes, I'm going to after I change," he replied.

"Fine." With that Michelle left the room, went up the stairs, and into her room, and sat down on her bed. "I don't need to go to bed," she said aloud, but in a few minutes she was fast asleep.

* * *

"Mishie, Mishie, time to wake up," Annie screamed, joyously, while jumping up and down on the bed.

Waking Michelle shouted, "Annie, quit, now." Then sat up and tried to grab her little sister.

Annie immediately went quiet and stopped jumping, then the four-year-old climbed off the bed and whispered, "It's time for dinner."

* * *

After dinner, her 1½ year old sister, Lisa, decided to stay up till 1 a.m., at which point her seven-year-old brother, Sean, woke crying because of a bad dream, and then one after the other Annie and her six-year-old brother, Colin, woke after wetting their beds. After putting everyone to bed, having Colin and Annie go into her bed, she decided she might as well wash Colin's and Annie's sheets, since there was little hope of her getting any sleep. By the time she was done, she began getting ready for school.

* * *

Michelle went to school the next day and came home with three times as much homework as she normally had. After taking care of dinner and everything else and having her father inform her that he had to leave the next morning on a business trip that would last a couple days but would be the last one this month, Michelle started her homework. Even without any incidents during the night she still barely finished before she had to start getting ready for school. After attending her first three classes Michelle started feeling very ill. After becoming sick in the bathroom and being thankful she was in the bathroom at the time, she went to the nurse's office and was sent home. She slowly walked home in a downpour. When she arrived home, she lay down on the couch and tried to sleep, but no sleep came. This is their fault. I'm sick because of them. My brothers and sisters should be able to take care of themselves. She felt anger growing in her, more than she had ever felt before. Since the day they were born they've been a nuisance. It hurt so much to bring them into the world. Michelle began to moan in pain. I wish I weren't a mother, I wish I hadn't given birth to them.

Michelle suddenly stopped moaning and opened her eyes, "I don't have to suffer any more," she said, a smile crept upon her face. "The pain can stop, it can all go away." She slowly walked into the kitchen and opened the drawer holding knives. She pulled out the one she had used a thousand times to cut up her roasts she loved to make. She placed it on the counter and went to get her apron; she didn't want to get dirty. She slowly put it over her damp hair and tied it on. Then she walked back over to the knife. Far away she heard the door open and noise filled a room, far, far away. Someone ran into the kitchen.

"Michelle, whachya doin'?" Colin asked.

She slowly turned her gray eyes to the boy, now holding the knife a hoarse voice said, "Come here, honey."

"Michelle?" he asked frightened, his lip quivering.

The same voice, although louder, said, "Didn't you hear me, come here."

Colin turned and ran, "Sean," he cried. "Michelle's scaring me."

Michelle slowly walked into the living room, where she saw Colin crying in the corner and Annie hugging him. Sean was standing in front of them, trying to see what was wrong, while holding a screaming Lisa. When Annie saw Michelle she let out a whimper and stared crying. Sean turned, fear filled his face, "Michelle, what are you doing?" he asked almost inaudibly. When she didn't respond he shouted, "Leave us alone."

A horrible sound came out of her, slightly resembling a laugh and still walking toward them asked, "Who's going to stop me… you?"

"Please, Michelle, don't hurt us," Annie begged through tears.

"Shut up," she roared.

"Please, Michelle," Colin echoed.

"I've had enough of your whining," she screamed, some of her immense anger turning into tears. "I just want the pain to go away." Wiping away the tears, her anger flared. "And now, nothing can stop me."

Several steps away, she moved more quickly. Then stopped. "No," she shouted. "I have to do this. Mother, you can't stop me, I'm doing this for you," she screamed at the air. "They caused us…me too much pain, can't you see I'm you now."

Michelle stared at her mother's transparent body and the knife her mother held. "We have to do this," Michelle screamed. Her mother's face looked sad as she slowly came toward Michelle and pushed her blade into her stomach.

Sean watched as Michelle stabbed herself again and again in the stomach, until her hand went still, the knife in her and she fell to the floor. He put Lisa down and his three siblings cried as he walked to his limp sister's body. Blood all over the white apron, all over the black carpet, her gray eyes staring at him and yet not seeing him. He numbly walked to the phone and dialed 911, and explained what had happened.

The paramedics came rushing in through the open door and then ran to the died girl on the floor. But it was too late, nothing could help her, because nothing, not even death, can stop a mother from protecting all her children.