And End Of Certain Days

The morning smelled of woodsmoke and crushed cedar.  The sky was an abstract painting of blue greys, slight purples, barely white and cerulean blue, so marbled and delicately painted that no artist could do it justice, even with glaze after linseed oiled glaze.  The sunlight was a  watery yellow wash over everything in the world.

Dave I and Dave II, a pre prop 8 gay couple, had the school pool for the day.  Her heart was broken, watching her little one’s backs as the scumbled into their car seats.  Like her, Dave and Dave had a boy and a girl.  Thick as thieves those kids were.  They had been in the same neonatal ward, and were like siblings.

She thought about an e-mail joke an old school friend had sent her that day:

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She used the car payment money to pay the power, phone, gas card, and cable bills.  She had hoped that starting a pot of beans with onion, garlic, green pepper, a tabasco pepper, chicken stock, and some bacon ends would give her some sense of accomplishment; of fending off disaster for another day.  Her ex was late with the child support payments, but he was good about paying, even if a few days late, so the car payment would be allright.

But then her sister called. Her sister was a master of sucking the last drop of joy out of life.  The sister survived by tormenting those who were lesser, smaller, weaker. She tortured her victims with words, her lying, and her hair trigger temper. And that was when she was sober.  She was violent and abusive when drunk.

She was well developed in her ways of standing up to her sister, but knew that would not be enough.  On that day, her sister’s latest and final outrage began with accusations of not dressing appropriately, and ended with threats ever so vile.

“You need to dress for yourself!” The sister barked into her ear.  “You need to get your hair done and your nails…I’m coming over…we’re going to the spa.  If you would have listened to me, you’d have a new husband to take care of you and the kids.  You can’t do it, yourself!”

Then her sister went into a rambling description of everything about herself, her children, her numb nuts, henpecked husband, and her fabulous, if boring day.

Her sister took a brief break to scream at her youngest son, a completely out of control brat.

“I can’t do anything with him…he just does what he wants to…anywaaaaay…I taaaalked with your friend and told her that you would find a way to make trouble for her if she keeps calling you…Her brother commited suicide and she doesn’t need your inputs.  Suicide is the most selfish….”

Something happened.  The air turned green.  Blackness came into the edges of her vision.  She had let the evil sister have it at that point.  She started at point A, causing a spate of her sister’s screaming, out talking, overtalking, and other desperate ploys to take back control of the conversation.

Those ploys didn’t work.  When the sister went into her “dead air” mode, which signals a complete temper meltdown, she made progress toward point zed.

“You need help!” She had screamed.  “You never let up with your sick, thoughtless, negative shit!”

She took a breath.

“Look…you need to stop that mouth of yours and leave my friends and me alone!   You have the nerve to accuse people who are in so much pain that they kill themselves of being selfish? Frank had inoperable end stage cancer! He did what he wanted to do about it.  But what would you know?  It’s all about you and the next thing that’s going to come out of your mouth!”

“You’re crazy!” The sister responded. “We’re going to have you locked up and take over everything!  You’re crazy!  I’m going to call that school and tell them that you’ve gone crazy!”

The sister knew full well that her children’s school would refuse to talk to her.  She had caused more than enough trouble over there, and had been told not call anymore.

“Get off my phone and don’t call me any more.  I have to call Sheila and tell her not to take your calls any more.  I don’t know how you got her number, anyway…”

“I got it from your cell phone.  Somebody had to tell her about you…”

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If one could slam down a cell phone, she slammed hers down on her sister’s final words to her.  She had made a decision…no more contact with her sister. That’s it. She needed a restraining order, or her sister would show up at her house, contact the neighbors again, make a loud scene at the market…

She paced around for about five minutes, knowing what was coming next: the call from Mom.  Mom called.

“What did you say to your sister?” She wailed. “You screamed at her and hung up on her?  What’s gotten into you?  You were always a pain in the neck!”

Like mother, like daughter.

She quietly and slowly told her mother to back down from that right now, or stay off her phone. “You two have each other, now. Dump on each other to make yourselves feel better than you deserve to feel about yourselves, but don’t you ever talk to me like that again.  And tell your daughter not to call me again.”

“You’re crazy…” her mother squawked before she cut the connection.

She went to her medicine box and saw a full bottle of Vicodan.  Up to then, she had never taken the Vicodan or much of any painkillers, even though her doctors wanted her to take it for her Rheumatoid Arthritis. Mom and sis, again. They were already calling her a “druggie”, since sis had rifled through her bedroom and found her medicine box.  Her ex had been furious and put a stop to both of them and their lying about drugs.

She didn’t write a note.  She had her cell phone and her I.D. with her.

She had started on the path to the little pond behind her house when her phone rang.  Oh no.  It was her friend. The one who had gotten the slander call from her ex-sister.

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“Hello?” She said, expecting to get an earful of questions about her failings and faults;  how her friend was no longer her friend, thanks to that call from Evilene.  Evilene was expert at interfering with her marriage, her friendships, and her relations with others outside the family.

“Are you allright? Your sister called me!  I don’t know how she got my number, but that woman is crazy!  I don’t care if you feel you need to stay in that family, but enough is enough!  I’m worried about you!”

“Oh, It’s done.” She said.

“Noooo!  Where are you?  I’m coming over!  I’m calling an ambulance!”

“Noooo back to you!  I told her and Mom not to bother me again!  My ex-sister wouldn’t have just called you and badmouthed me. She had to tell me that she did it, or she wouldn’t be satisfied.  Then Mom got on the warpath with her. That’s it.  I’m not having any more of those two.  That’s it.”

“So you’re not going to do anything to yourself?”

“Oh hell no.” She lied, buying time.   “That way, those two monsters would win. Those folks would love to get up to that podium and make it all about themselves at my funeral.  Didn’t you know that ‘Living well is the best revenge?'”

“Oh, if you’re quoting George Herbert, then you are definitely alright” Her friend laughed, nervous and not quite convinced.

They talked for about an hour as she sat by the little pond and fingered the bottle that she had taken from her medicine box.  After the call from her friend, she carefully read the label.  It said

“Tylenol Arthritis Strength 500 mg”.

“Take one pill every four hours as needed for pain.”

She opened the bottle, shook out one pill and gulped it down with a wash of bottled water, reminding herself that she had to get the chicken seasoned and marinating by noon and make some afternoon snacks for the kids. Then she was scheduled to volunteer at the legal clinic. They would tell her today that she’d been hired as a part time counselor.  The money would come in handy.  She’d need a babysitter…

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