Biographical Non-Fiction posted April 29, 2017 Chapters:  ...15 16 -17- 18... 


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...in the dark

A chapter in the book Family Poems and Stories

Behind the Couch

by Mustangpatty1029


Sleep wouldn't come.  She had lain there for as long as she could.  Resigning herself to another sleepless night, she headed towards the kitchen.
 
After making a cup of instant coffee, she grabbed her pack of cigarettes, turned off the lights, and headed to the living room.  Bone tired, she settled on the couch.  Drawing her legs up and making herself comfortable, she lit her cigarette.  She brought her wrist up to her face and barely made out the time on her watch.  It was three-thirty.
 
With a sigh, she settled in to wait.  One of the few perks of the sorry situation was getting to see the sunrise.  The glowing ash was the only light in the house.  The kids were all asleep.  Thinking about them only brought more misery.
 
How would she be able to do this on her own?  Would the job at the Pancake House be enough? She had never graduated from high school, so finding a better job was out of the question.  What else could someone like her do besides waitressing?
 
Groaning inside, she went through the mental checklist of woes.  He was in jail.  The house had been sold because they were in the process of buying another one.  She was left with three kids to raise.  Joe was eighteen, but Billie and Patty were still just mouths to feed.
 
The sellers of the new house had let her out of that contract, but there was no luck in cancelling the sale of their house.    She needed to move into something big enough for the four of them, but cheap enough for her to afford.  Inhaling deeply, the glow of her cigarette increased in intensity.  How on earth would she get through this?
 
He had been thrown in jail for messing with Billie.  Apparently, it had been going on for years.  How did she miss it?  Was it her fault?  There were plenty of people who thought so.
 
She went to the Bingo twice a week.  Was that when it happened?  But Patty had been home – shouldn't that have stopped it?  Billie was supposed to be keeping an eye on her.  Had Patty seen anything?  Shutting her eyes tight, she could only shake her head.
 
Crushing the cigarette butt in the ashtray, she quickly lit another.  Coughing, she covered her mouth to muffle the sound.  She really didn't want Patty to wake up.  Her barrage of questions was just too much to handle.  She needed this time to herself.  It was quiet.  It was dark.  She could organize her thoughts and come up with a plan.
 
Maybe Joe could use his paycheck to help?  He had already been giving her some money.  There was nothing wrong with a son helping his family.  Wasn't it his duty?
 
Feeling the enormity of the responsibility that sat squarely on her shoulders, tears stung her eyes.  The stub of her cigarette glowed as she left it on the edge of the ashtray.  Feeling a good cry coming on, she wanted her hands free.  She stuffed her fist in her mouth to stifle the sobs.
 
Unbeknownst to her, Patty was hiding behind the couch.  She heard the sobbing and wished she could come out.  It sounded as though her mommy could use a hug.  Holding her little hand over her own mouth, she cried for her mother and herself.

 


Recognized


This story is about my mother. I know she tried to do her best. I think life just got the best of her. The picture is of her when she was around fifty years old. She died when she was seventy. The cause was lung cancer.
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