Drunken Memories

The wall is cold against my cheek, making it feel as the rest of me already feels: numb. In the background, there is yelling. I know that the yelling is words, but I'm just hearing, not listening, trying to block everything out of the world. I want to be somewhere else. Anywhere but here. Let me be free-falling off a cliff, about to hit the ground, or in a hostage situation with a gun to my head. Literally, anywhere... just NOT HERE.

"Don't you realize how much this is hurting the kids?" I hear my dad yell.

I look up from the stairs on which I'm sitting and see my mother drunkenly standing in the doorway to her room. Her eyes tint with sadness for a moment that is gone so fast I wonder if it was imagined. The next emotion I see is anger, or just plain hatred.

"I don't even know why I married you!" my mom yells; the words could cut through metal. I've never heard my mom speak with so much menace.

I think tears might come into my eyes. No, I refuse to let her see me cry. I look at the front door and suddenly remember words from a song my brother listens to. I always thought the song was creepy, but now I understand it completely.

I want to run away... and never say goodbye... I want to know the truth... instead of wondering why... I want to know the answers... no more lies...

I long with every fiber of my being to just rise from my miserable spot on the stairway, open the door, leave and never look back. I long to grab a bottle of the red wine my mother drank earlier and smash it against the wall, to watch the glass slowly splinter away, the crimson of the wine flow down the wall like blood. There is nothing I desire more than to watch that happen. I long to feel the sharded glass beneath my fingers, gently mingling with the glistening liquid.

But, as the years pass by, this is still only a dream, an unachieved goal. My mom has stopped drinking red wine and is on to the yellowy-green substance called a margarita. I'm ten years old. I sit in the car at the liquor store window and hear her order it. So many times in the last year have I heard it that I can recite it perfectly: "Jose Querbo Pre-Mixed Margarita."

I watch as the little man at the window stuffs the bottle into a crumpled black bag. I go home and watch the bottle dwindle down as my mom's mood becomes crazier. I wait for her to be entertained by something else and then quietly sneak over to her purse. I reach in and feel the cold, jagged metal of the keys and pull them out, trying to quiet the jingle that comes with this task. I put them in my pocket and sneak away to find somewhere to hide them.

This has become as much a custom in my house as waking up in the morning or eating dinner at night. Then I go to my room, shut the door, and pretend I'm in a different world. I fall on my bed and hope and pray for something, anything, to take me away from this place, to somewhere better, far away from the deadly substance called alcohol. I pray for a place so far away that my mom could finally break free.

Alone in my room, I think back to my eight-year old self. I remember how I thought that only my mom suffered the disease of alcoholism in my family. Now I realize it isn't true. I think back to the times when I've seen my father come home in such a drunken stupor that he couldn't even drag himself up the stairs or remove his shirt without help.

I finally allow myself to crack open the door and peer outside. My mother's door is shut, and muffled music is playing. I already know that my mother has fallen right into routine and is now about to pass out huddled in front of her door, which I know from experience will be locked. I think about going up there and trying to open the door and get her into bed. But, for once in my life, I decide to leave her there. I don't think I can handle anymore tonight. So, with a heavy heart, I close the door, turn the metal latch, flip the light switch off, and for the first time today, I bundle myself under the covers of my bed and allow the pain to escape, in the form of warm, salty tears down my face.