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I didn't get home that evening until almost midnight. Of course, when I did get home, I got to jump straight back into the drama because my dad was waiting up for me. It was a Friday, so it wasn't unheard for for a 17 year old girl to be getting back this late, but then again, I wasn't just any 17 year old girl. I happened to be a pretty lame one that didn't have a social life.
"I texted you," Dad said as I walked in the door.
"I know," I replied. "I told you I was alive and well and that I'd be home soon."
"SO who is he?"
"What makes you say that?" I replied, my skin flushing hard.
"Well, your face is about three shades of red right now, so I know it's a guy. Good for you," Dad said, with a smile on his face. He was happy to see me happy, and then his expression changed and he shot me a serious look. "Your mom is gone."
"What do you mean gone?" I asked.
"Well, the Sheriff came today and served her divorce papers. She flipped out, barricaded herself in her room, and refused to take them. When the sheriff was able to get into the room, she was collapsed on the floor. She took a handful of medications. She's on life support," my dad told me, getting pretty emotional about it. "I'm sorry, Adina. I didn't think she would react this way. I just wanted to get you and get out."
My dad sat there with his face buried in his hands and he started to sob. After all the years of emotional torment my mother has inflicted on him, he was blaming himself for her latest mistake.
"Dad, this isn't your fault. You didn't shove the pills down her throat. You didn't make her take them," I told him, trying to comfort him.
He started to sob harder. "I was being selfish. I wanted out. I didn't want to be married to a drug addict anymore. I was so happy that the papers were coming today," he choked.
"Dad, you can't blame yourself. Have you called anyone?" I asked.
"Just Uncle Terry. He called everyone for me. They'll all be here in the morning before I have to go to the hospital for an update."
I sat on the couch in shock at what my dad was telling me. There were so many times that I wished my mother would just die - the time that she took the jewelry my Gram gave to my dad to pass down to me and pawned it, the time she emptied my savings account to pay for her drugs, or the time she tried to enroll me in public school so she could snort the tuition money up her nose instead. I don't ever recall one time my mother put me before herself all of my life. I spent huge chunks of my life at my grandparent's house and with my Uncle Terry because she was in rehab again or otherwise checked out and my dad had to work and couldn't be home to care for me. My mom never once met me at the bus stop as a kid that I could remember, never helped me with my homework, and never went to any of my games when I tried sports.
And still, I didn't know how to feel. My hands started shaking; even after all the years of her being the shittiest mother on the face of the earth, I didn't want her to die.
"What have the doctors told you so far?" I asked, not knowing if I really wanted to know the answer.
"They told me that the chances of her pulling through are very small, and not to get my hopes up. They ran tests and said that in her system was a high-dose of Oxycontin and that even if she does survive, her liver is severely damaged and that she will need a transplant to live longterm," he sobbed.
"I'm so sorry, dad. I'm sorry," I said, still in shock. I walked over to the recliner my dad was sitting in and gave him a long hug. After he released me, he started to compose himself again.
"I'm sorry, Adina. I didn't mean to take your mother away from you."
"She wasn't much of a mother, dad," I stated.
As cold as it sounded out loud, it was the truth.
Go back in time and read previous chapters, or keep scrolling for Chapter Five.
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And so there I was, sitting in a coffee shop with my feet propped up on a coffee table next to the most attractive guy that's ever talked to me, literally - aside from the time that the one hot soccer player asked me to borrow a pencil and Math class. I just couldn't believe it, that he really liked me. I learned that he was a freshman in college and on the Dean's List and that he was also thinking of joining ROTC - mainly because he didn't know what he wanted to do with his life after college, but he knew he didn't want to be broke doing it.
"So seriously, Luke, how do you not have a girlfriend? You're funny, you're smart, you're not completely lost..." I asked curiously.
"Girls do not dig me, at all," he replied, laughing.
"What do you mean? I dig you, at least I think I do."
"Adina, you're the rare unicorn. You're the first girl I've tried to talk to in two weeks that actually said something back to me. You're probably the first girl in this entire town that has said anything to me other than, hey can I borrow a pen man?"
"No way. Seriously, that's the only way guys talk to me at school - when they need something to write with," I said, thinking to myself that there was no way that this could be real. Someone was pranking me. I need to start looking for Ashton Kutcher because I feel like I'm about to be on an episode of Punked.
"You know, I wasn't even going to come out today. My friends went to a party last night and so when I asked if they wanted to come out today and skate, they all decided to be lame and nurse their hangovers. But something told me that I should, that going out today would be important."
Hearing a guy talk to me like this made me smile.
"The only reason I came out was because it was better than hearing my parents argue. It's been a rough week at my house."
I wasn't kidding either. I was out with Luke, so I had no idea, but my dad was so happy because he had stopped by the sheriff's office on the way home and scheduled a time for a deputy to serve his divorce papers. And the best part was the stipulation on marital assets - he would only split 50/50 with her if and only if she went to rehab and remained sober until after my 18th birthday. It also stipulated that he would pay for the rehabilitation in lieu of alimony, and that he would retain full legal and physical custody of me.
"That really sucks. My parents fight a lot but it's always over dumb shit," Luke said, trying to comfort me.
"My mom, she's something else. I don't know how my dad stays married to her," I sighed as I replied.
Luke slipped his arm around me and drew me close. Typically, I wouldn't let a guy hold me like that, but he seemed sincere in wanting to comfort me so I rested my head on his shoulder. Luke gave me a quick squeeze, clearly he didn't know what he could say to make me feel better, but that was okay because I really didn't need or expect him to say anything at all.
"So, if we end up getting dinner here in a bit, does that officially make this a date?" Luke asked.
"I don't know, I'm a bit of a comfort eater. Giving me dinner might turn me into a clingy girlfriend," I said, starting to giggle.
Luke smiled, "Who knows, maybe I like clingy girlfriends. You'll do my laundry and make me cookies, right?"
"What makes you think I know how to do laundry and make cookies? What is this, the 1930s?"
"They don't have some kind of class at school that teaches that shit anymore?"
"No, you've clearly been out of school too long, pedo."
"Alright," Luke said, laughing pretty hard. "But seriously, can we turn this into a date? I can't imagine not spending the rest of this day with you."
"I think today is a perfect day for a first date."
He's perfect, I thought to myself.
It was almost two hours before my dad got home from work, which meant that I hid in my room and pretended like I had better things to do because my mom is well...bat shit crazy.
"Why the hell are you home early?" my mom started interrogating him the second he came through the front door. Clearly, she was looking for a fight - most likely to distract him from finding out about what had happened this morning when checking in with her probation officer.
"I got fired," he replied replied nonchalantly.
"You better not have. We need the fucking money," my mom retorted back.
"Hell no, I didn't get fired. But enough about me. How was your day, dear?" dad said cheerfully.
I had no idea what was about to go down, I just knew I didn't want to be there for it. I was pretty sure that my dad was secretly enjoying this; we all knew their marriage was on the rocks and could see the writing on the walls. It was just a matter of time before my dad checked out of their marriage officially.
"It was okay," mom said sharply. "Why?"
"Well, I know you had that important meeting today. I hope you dressed for success and studied for your test," dad said, almost laughing because he knew she hadn't done either.
"What the hell are you so happy about?" mom snapped, the anger in her voice was rising. She was clearly not a fan of my dad's jokes.
"Oh well, I just had a great day, that's all," dad replied, as his voice trailed towards the kitchen.
"You never just come in here all happy-go-lucky like this, Gary. Is there someone else? Are you cheating on me? What's her name?"
"So I have to be cheating on you since I'm happy? The fuck?"
"I don't know why else you'd be happy. You haven't been this happy in years. It's suspicious."
And with that, I kicked on my sandals and headed out the front door without anyone noticing. I knew exactly where this was going, and I didn't want to be there for it. I was sick of the swearing, the insults, the yelling, and the doors slamming back and forth between the two of them. I mean, who wouldn't be?
I decided to make a right at the end of our driveway and headed up the street - literally, as it was quite a hill. I didn't even know where I was heading, since I really didn't have any friends to take shelter with. I passed the house on the left at the top of the street with the above-ground swimming pool in their side yard, and decided to make a right and go down the hill towards the outdoor mall we literally lived behind. I figured that window shopping would be the best thing right now, at least until I figured out where I should go from there.
As I cut through the parking lot towards the sidewalk that ran in front of the center, which had a ton of shops and a nice covered walking area. The mall was pretty well-kept, with some outlets on the far end and a Publix on the end I was nearing.
There were also plenty of benches, and on the second bench in, right in front of Publix, I saw him sitting. He was tall, tan, and muscular, with brown hair pulled back into a ponytail with an undercut and just enough facial hair that my dad would probably hand him a razor if I ever brought him home for a date - like that would ever happen. He had on a black sleeveless muscle shirt with skinny jeans and a black snapback hat. He was sitting on the bench looking at his cell phone and resting his feet on a skateboard. He was probably texting his girlfriend or his friends trying to meet up to go skating at the park down over the mountain.
Guys like him weren't interested in girls like me. I mean there I was, in my cream colored crop top with little pink hearts and high-waisted pale pink shorts that made my legs look longer than they actually were because I was actually pretty petite, with my hair pulled back in a mermaid braid, old sunglasses, my huge leather "getaway bag" as my dad called it, and sandals. I looked like I was more ready for a day at the beach, especially since I had taken the time to put on self tanner for no good reason, rather than for a day in the mountains like where we lived. I was also incredibly shy when it came to guys, so yeah, no way I'd even talk to this dude.
I decided the best course of action was to duck into Publix because if I so much as passed this kid and made eye contact, my face was going to turn five shades of scarlet - I was sure of it. I immediately veered to the right when I walked through the doors, towards the bakery and passed the buy-one get-one deals. I decided to head back towards the back of the store, where the meat department is, and basically do a lap around the outer layer. Mid-lap, I decided that I was thirsty and decided that I should probably grab a bottle of water and maybe some gum or something so I didn't look like a total tool bag walking out of the store. I walked to the front and grabbed a Dasani out of the register fridge and then decided on cinnamon gum because it was the only one without weird ingredients in it - I wasn't fond of anything in my food with ingredients that I couldn't pronounce or easily Google the meaning of.
"Cinnamon is my favorite too," a voice said from behind me as he reached for a pack of gum for himself.
As I turned to see who was talking to me, I could immediately feel my face starting to flush as I realized that IT WAS HIM - the cool skater guy from out front.
"I used to dig spearmint, but they changed the ingredients in it..." I stumbled, as I picked my jaw off the floor. I couldn't believe this guy was talking to me. He was really willingly talking to me.
"I like your top, it really looks great with your skin tone."
"This? Thanks, it's really comfortable." IS THAT THE BEST I COULD COME UP WITH? SERIOUSLY ADINA?!
"You wanna head out? All of my friends are being douchebags at the park today and window shopping is pretty boring. I know a good book shop a few blocks from here with amazing coffee."
THIS GUY READS?!?! AM I DREAMING?!?!?!
"Sure, I'd like that," I responded, sure that this wasn't happening to me.
And with that, he handed the cashier a ten-spot to cover my water and our gum and we left, together. I was sure that this couldn't be real life.
Before we even got to the car, I knew I would be on edge and walking on egg shells for the next week. A part of me knew I could outrun her, and I wanted to run to the car and just leave her standing there, but I also knew that I would never hear the end of it, so I marched onward towards our car with her – a beat up black Ford Explorer that was about ten years old at this point. With my being in and out of rehab and trying to wipe a DUI off her record, this beater was all we could afford. Sometimes I wondered how our lives would have played out if my mom was normal. I secretly wished that I could go back in time to where it all went south for her and stop it from happening so I could have a real mom and be a normal teenager.
I sat in the car waiting for my mom with the window down so I could have some air. She stood there on the passenger side, pacing alongside the vehicle puffing on a cigarette and muttering to herself. I couldn't make out what she was saying, but every now and then a swear word would be audible. In that moment, I knew that two things were true about my mother: She was crazy, and she was probably going back to jail for something. I wanted to be anywhere but there with her. Finally, my mom flicked her cigarette down the ramp and got in the car. I just sat there; I was too far into my own thoughts to realize she was finished chain-smoking.
“Are you going to fucking drive or what?” My mother finally asked, staring me down with her brown eyes and bad eyeliner.
She almost looked like a raccoon, since she botched her attempt to cover up her fierce under-eye circles. She could have also just slept in her makeup – it was hard to tell with my mother, but considering she didn't even care to put on a bra for the probation officer, I wouldn't put it past her.
“What?” I responded, confused for a moment.
“Are you going to fucking drive, Adina? I've been sitting here for five minutes, waiting on you to get your head out of your ass and drive me home,” my mother stated.
At this point, she was growing more and more agitated by the second. I put the car in reverse and checked my mirrors and slowly started backing out of the space. For the next 20 minutes, we drove home in silence, which suited me just fine. I had no desire to her. As usual, I took time out of my day to drive her somewhere, and she was ungrateful. We finally pulled in the driveway and I turned the key and withdrew it from the ignition and got out of the car.
“I'm going to do my homework,” I announced.
I would do anything to get away from her right now, especially since it would be at least two hours before my dad got home from work. I ran up the stairs and unlocked the door before she could object or ask me to do something else for her ungrateful ass.
“Good, maybe you'll actually do something productive and bring up your grades,” my mom mumbled, as she stumbled up the staircase behind me that led to the front door. “I doubt it though.”
Even though I couldn't really hear her, I didn't even bother to go back and ask her what she said. There was no point – anything I said to her just clearly agitated her. So I did what any reasonable person would do and I made an effort to simply avoid her. Once I was in the safety of my room, I shut the door and locked it behind me so she couldn't just walk in. Sure, it would get me yelled at, but it was better than her discovering that my dad bought me a secret cell phone so we could text each other to give each other a heads up when things weren't going well on the “mom front.”
“Just got back. She failed her test. They sent her piss to the lab to be tested further,” I quickly texted my dad.
“Damn. Be home soon,” dad texted back.
I hoped this meant he was going to be leaving work early. I put my phone back into the small compartment in my purse and zipped it so that it wasn't easily spotted when I opened my purse. And with that, went and unlocked the door and pulled my backpack out of the closet to grab my Math book – I had to at least make it look like I was trying to get good grades.
Previous Adina Novella Blog.
Ever since I could remember, my mother has struggled with drugs and alcohol. The whole family has lost count of exactly how many times she has been to rehab, as well as how many dollars we have collectively spent sending her there, only for her to come home and fuck it all up again within a matter of months. We truly thought this time was different - she finally was almost at 11 months sober for the first time since before I had been born. What we didn't know was that her newfound fascination with accusations towards me was just psychological projection. What we also didn't know was that our entire lives were about to be flipped upside down.
It had been two weeks since my mother made me take those tests, and she had been crazier than ever. It was the third Monday of the month, which meant that she had her monthly meeting with her probation officer. As part of this, it was her turn to piss in a cup. My dad had to work overtime, so it was up to me to take her. Unfortunately, the last time she was sent to rehab it was because of a DUI, so my dad and I were still stuck driving her everywhere like she was the fucking Queen of England. My dad felt pretty resentful about her license being revoked, especially at the cost of all the programs she had to go through to attempt to eventually get it back, and in turn, my mom would turn around and act as if it was somehow our fault when she decided to loose her sobriety. It was to the point where they pretty much hated each other's guts, and there I was, stuck in the middle of it.
"There's a good spot, Adina. Grab it," said my mother right after I pulled into the parking garage. I kept driving a little further to a less populated area where the spots weren't as tight. "What did you do that for? Now we'll have to walk further. If I wanted to exercise, I would join a gym."
"I just don't want someone hitting our car. Dad would be really upset and have to take time off work to get it fixed," I replied.
"You two are always thinking about each other, aren't you?" My mom barked back.
We walked down the staircase to the street in silence. The probation office was just across the street, in a small, brick building that they shared with the youth probation office. I guess they wanted the bad kids to see what they could grow up to be, like a real life version of scared straight. We walked in the glass door and down the hall and opened the first door on the left, which took you straight into the reception area for the adult probation area. There's also a door straight across the hall on the right, which is for the juveniles. The waiting area was nothing to write home about. There were blocks and a small dollhouse shoved in one corner, a few chairs that looked like they belonged in a hospital waiting room, and a receptionist behind a desk encased in glass. I sat down and grabbed an old TIME magazine while my mom checked in with the lady so she could be buzzed back. If I flipped through this magazine hard enough, my mom would continue the silence that I was secretly enjoying.
"Debra Wilt?" my mother's probation officer called as he propped open the glass door with his foot. He was a middle-aged, balding white guy with grey hair and a grey beard. He played football in college, and he still looked like a linebacker. He wore khakis and a tucked in polo shirt with loafers, as if he still belonged somewhere on a college campus. My mom on the other hand, was probably his age, but looked like she had at least ten years on him. Her dark, curly hair was pulled back into a ponytail, and she made no attempt to cover up any of her grey. She also didn't bother to wear makeup this morning, and probably wasn't wearing a bra under her sweatshirt and winter jacket either.
When my mother returned 20 minutes later, she was clearly agitated. "Let's get the fuck out of here," she demanded as she headed for the door. I rose and followed behind her.
"Is everything okay?" I asked as we waited for two cars to pass us so we could cross the street.
"No, Adina, everything is not okay," she responded. "They're sending my urine off to the lab. I don't fucking get it. I've been clean for almost a year and pissing on demand for them every month and this test just lies right in front of us and the next thing I know, Mr. Mavis is telling me what will happen next if my lab results come back positive too. Like fuck dude, I already know, they'll arrest me for some shit I didn't do..." her voice trailed off as we approached the stairs. "You just had to park on the second level, didn't you? You know I hate stairs."
Like I said, everything was about to be turned upside down.
“Adina, let's go. I don't have all day. Do you think this is how I envisioned my day? Babysitting you in the bathroom?” my mother asked.
I was sitting in our bathroom forever willing myself to fill up this cup with urine. Seconds seemed like minutes and the minutes felt like forever. My mom stood there in the doorway – she wasn't staring me down but her presence made it awkward as fuck and deterred me from watering down my orange urine with water. My parents had never made me pee in a cup before, but after I spent a month pretending to sleep with any spare time I had away because I was depressed, they decided that I was either doing drugs or pregnant, and they wanted to get to the bottom of it. I didn't even have a boyfriend, and the people I went to school with were idiots. Frankly put, I was a loner. No one wanted to even hang out with me, let alone have sex with me. And my mom? A frumpy middle-aged woman. Her favorite past-time? Embarrassing me while wearing mom pants and old sweatshirts and micromanaging me. She was not helping me with my game.
“Is it really that hard to piss in a cup? What's wrong with you?”
"It is when you're standing there," I barked back while I stared at the tan paint, chipping along the edge of the wall where it meets our tub, wondering why the hell the previous owners of this place thought that a blinding bright yellow would be a good idea for a tiny bathroom.
“It's about time.” my mother said when it finally came.
I only refer to her as my mother when she's annoying me, and in this moment she was very annoying. I walked away while she fiddled with the syringe to get the drops of urine required for the pregnancy test before got out the test strips that would test for marijuana, cocaine, and a bunch of other drugs I hadn't even heard of. For me, it was a waste of time, for her, it would be a waste of money.
Apparently, we were here because all teenagers lie, and while I'm sure some do, I never really did. I have no friends, no social life, and no sex life, so what do I have to lie about? I go to school, I do my homework, I read books, and I stay at home on Friday nights, wishing I was someone else, or at least had something to lie about. Literally, the only thing I had to lie about is what time I went to bed because I stayed up reading that one last page over and over, and that's why I was late waking up for school. But I digress. I guess it's pointless when you're the child and someone else is the parent – they're always trained to be skeptical of you, even when you're telling the truth.
My parents always saw me as something to be controlled and micromanaged. When I was young, it was sports, but I had no athletic ability. They finally gave up on sports when I got old enough for my grades to matter. They wanted me to go to an Ivy League school and they were pissed because I wanted no part of that. I didn't know what I wanted to do, but it wouldn't be going to some Ivy League school where all that mattered was my GPA, so I did what any reasonable teenager would do...I made my GPA drop.
“Damn Gary, I was sure she was up to something. Why the hell is she sleeping all the time if she's not knocked up or on drugs? Why the hell are her grades dropping? This doesn't make any sense,” I could hear my mom say. Not only was I clean, but my uterus was vacant as well.
“Well, at least we know she's not in trouble. She's a good kid, Deb. Maybe we need to give her the benefit of the doubt; maybe her classes are hard and she's been up studying all night for her finals,” my dad replied with anger.
"Studying? You know she's NOT studying with those grades," my mother yelled at him.
"If you keep yelling like that, she's going to hear you," my dad calmly said to her. My dad was always sticking up for me, and she hated it. I could already hear them though - it's hard not to when our rooms were next to each other and the walls were paper thin.
“We both know your little princess isn't going to go to college and she's not studying for her fucking finals,” my mother spit back.
"And this conversation has definitely crossed over into the unnecessary lane," my father said as he left the room and calmly shut the door. I didn't understand how he could be so calm and collected around her.
As for me, I just wanted to crawl in a hole and die because well, this was my life. For the next six months, I was stuck here. August and my 18th birthday literally couldn't get here fast enough. But hey, at least I wasn't knocked up, right?