I tried to forgive them—the men in my life—but only one has managed to stay on my good side. Most of the time.
“Chase?” I toss my purse on the sofa, put Skylar down in her cradle and almost trip on Darrell’s backpack. The apartment is dead quiet, which is odd, because the house is never quiet. Chase can’t sit for more than two seconds without turning some crappy music up all the way. He says the music helps him think and that earphones plug up his creativity. Yeah. More like it helps him mask the sound of near-constant texting while he’s supposed to be doing homework.
Plus, we live in the back of that old three-story house at Peters and Lincoln—you know, the one that looks like a barn in the back? Anyways, the house is constantly creaking; you can hear it settling as you walk by on the street. It’s creepy.
My cell phone beeps: new voicemail. I didn’t even hear my phone ring. “Hello, this is Margaret Peters calling for Amanda Heyduk? Amanda, I’m the principal at Chase’s school? I was wondering if it would be possible to talk to you at your earliest convenience?” I stop listening. The careful way all her sentences end as questions means she’s not calling to tell me Chase made the honor roll. I take the stairs two at a time, knock real quick on the door, and I’m in the teenager’s bedroom.
“Mo-om!” he says. Two syllables, not one. He pushes his shaggy blond hair out of his eyes.
There’s nothing embarrassing happening; he’s just listening to his iPod, which, as you know, isn’t normal. Mental note: check what he’s loaded on that thing sometime when he’s gone. He obviously doesn’t want me to hear something.
“I just got a message from your principal. Any idea what that’s about?”
He pops his headphones back into his ears. I yank the closest one out again. “Talk. Before your sister wakes up,” I says.
He gives me this look: the one that tells me I’m not going to like what he’s about to say, not the one that tells me I’m being annoying. I feel sorry for him just then. He says to me, “Mrs. Eichorn heard me tell Linc something.”
“I was telling him about the box under the couch. I think it’s Darrell’s. I didn’t touch anything once I opened it to see what it was, I swear. I put it right back, Mom.” But I was already up off the bed, and halfway down the stairs. I crouch down on the carpet and slide the super-light box out. I hear Chase behind me.
Prescription bottles—about fifteen of them—lay on their side in a small Amazon box: Xanax, Codeine, Adderall, Ativan, Seconal. Different people’s names on each label.
I am such an idiot.
Darrell’s this guy who works at a gas station, a “friend” I know from the bar who was talking late one night about hitting a rough patch and needing some help. I’m letting him stay on the couch for a few weeks. Should have known he was a loser as soon as I saw his stupid motorcycle helmet with the pierced nipple on the side of it.
“How long have you known about these?” I try hard to keep my voice even.
“Found them last night.” He looks down at the floor. “There’s more in the basement.”
I grab my phone from my back pocket. “Do me a favor? Put Darrell’s stuff in one of those boxes.” Chase grabs a diaper box and walks into the bathroom. I take a quick trip to the basement. Two more boxes full of them sitting next to my Christmas decorations. I shout up the stairs to Chase. “You okay with Sky for 20 minutes?”
“Where you going?” he says. I hear his footsteps above me crossing out of the bathroom.
“I have to run up to the gas station for something,” I says as I walk back up the stairs. Making a point not to look at my face, Chase hands me Darrell’s backpack and the box he’s filled.
“Call upstairs if you need anything, baby. Be right back!” And I’m out the door.
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The continuation of this story can be read here. It’s the one about the confrontation with the gas station clerk.
*Constructive criticism is always appreciated. I am not a parent; how convincingly did I write from the perspective of one?