It’s interesting how a feeling of elation can turn into a rock that sits in your stomach and wants to make you cry in less than a day.
Two nights ago I fell asleep in Patrick’s arms, and even though nothing sexual happened between us, except for kissing so much that my lips are still a little bit swollen, it was by far one of the best nights of my life. For a few hours I actually felt safe and comfortable, not as if the universe would pull the rug from under my feet and leave me with nothing. Yet… Here I am, rug pulled from right under my feet, leaving me with nothing.
It’s as if someone turned the volume of the world down around me as I walk out of the door with the very last box in my hand, the rain falling lightly outside, and my mom still crying like she has for the past few hours, on and off. It’s like I don’t register. Not hearing a word of the mumbles coming from her or the wails from Chloe as we lock the motel door behind us for the last time and head for the car.
Earlier I heard my mom pleading with the motel manager to just let us stay another week or two. That she would find the money to pay, although I knew very well that there was no way she would have been able to manage the payment for another two weeks, or be able to find it anywhere either. I tried my best not to listen to the conversation as he politely told her that it could not be done. I ignored her crying to him as he stood before her, telling her how much sympathy he has for us, but that he needs to also do his job. And just like that we were done for, and started packing the car with the few things we have left.
When the trunk of the car was filled up and the majority of the backseat has been taken up by the little of food supplies we still has with us we started driving, my mom trying her best not to let Chloe see the tears running over her cheeks as we drove around the city in silence. Its weird how suddenly the city and everything in it seems so very scary the moment night falls and you don’t have somewhere you can go and be completely safe.
“We’ll need to find a place to park the car,” I tell my mom, also trying my best not to cry and to be the sensible one in all of this. It wouldn’t be good if we had to spend the little bit we still have on gas as well. We need to preserve what we have as far as we can.
“Yes… yes… you’re right,” she mumbles as she wipes the tears that just flow without a sound coming out of her mouth. “Probably somewhere safe?”
I can hear in her voice she has no idea what safe means anymore, and neither do I. Everything we had deemed safe in the past has been taken away from us completely. The security that we were used to became dangerous because we had no idea how to live any other way.
“I think I saw a family or two that was sleeping in their cars at the one gas station just out of town,” I mentioned. At the very least the gas station stays open all night long and there’s a bathroom to use as well.
“We can try that…” mom says as she pulls over on the side of the road and wait for some cars to pass us by before she makes a u-turn to go back to the direction we came from.
“Mom… Maybe I should look for a job? I’m sure I can find something… I’m serious…” I open up the argument that she has fought against since the moment we landed up at Aunt Barbara’s.
“Please Cory. Not now… We have already spoken about this,” she answers without looking at me, but again wiping away some tears as she drives.
I think about how wonderful it might be if we had an accident at this very minute, killing all three of us. That way we wouldn’t feel like this anymore. We would not sink lower and lower. I have been thinking about this for a while now. It doesn’t seem possible that my mom will ever find a job. She’s been searching for months already, and with her limited schooling there’s just no way that she’s finding anything, and when she actually does find something the hours are ridiculous and she’s got nowhere to go with Chloe and she doesn’t want me to leave school. On top of that the salary is just so small that it wouldn’t even help us out of our situation at all.
“But mom… It’s something we will need to start talking about. Even if I just take something after school or over weekends. Every little bit helps at the end of the day, doesn’t it?” I ask again. I have given the same argument to her so many times over that it is actually frustrating talking to her again, but I need to convince her.
“I said no Cory. Not now, please. You need to focus on school first. I want you to continue as normal as we can,” she says as we pass the gas station I was talking about earlier.
“The gas station is back there,” I mumble to her, making her pull off so that she can turn around once again.
She wants me to be normal, but sleeping in a car at a gas station is as far from normal as we could possibly get at this moment in time. What I need isn’t normal. What I need is to help so that we can build ourselves up again and hopefully one day really be a normal family again.
“Mom. I think we should then at least consider the idea of a shelter. We can’t stay like this,” I say to her. I know what the implications will be, but I’m fine with that as well. Chloe can’t grow up in a car. That on its own should be enough reason to consider climbing out of our fears and comfort zones completely.
“Can we please talk about this again tomorrow Cory? Please? I’m tired, and I really need a few hours of sleep,” she says to me. “Maybe you should try and do the same. We will probably need to be up really early tomorrow morning.”
I look around me as she parks the car a few feet away from the gas station in one of the parking’s I guess would be there for people coming from far away, passing through and needing to just stretch their legs a little bit.
“Would you mind staying here with your sister while I go and find out if they have a bathroom?” she says but she doesn’t wait for an answer before she climbs out of the car and walks away from the car, tears still staining her face.
I pull out my phone. I need some type of distraction and actually I have this intense need to talk to someone about what I am going through and about how scared I am knowing that we will be sleeping in a car where a window can just be broken and anyone can get to us. I want to stay awake all night and I have no idea if I can do that. Emotionally I am so drained that I could fall asleep with the tip of a hat to be honest.
Cory: What are you up 2?
I don’t need to wait very long for a reply before my phone vibrates in my hand.
Patrick: Nothing. Just sitting around. Thinking of u.
His message makes me smile a little bit. There is something that makes butterflies fly around in your stomach knowing that there’s someone, somewhere at least thinking of you. This is one of the reasons why I once thought it would have been great to become an author. Someone, somewhere at any given moment in time might be reading the words you have written, giving you their time and thinking about the person who might have written it and what went through their head, while they are escaping to a world of wonder. I have always believed that would be wonderful bliss. Helping people in a way that I have been helped by books in the past.
Cory: Ur being silly. I’m going through some shit. Actually I’m scared shitless.
I read through the message a few times before I finally hit send. I don’t want to open up this much to Patrick, but I have already texted Mandy twice today without a reply. I have tried my best to apologize as much as one can over a text but obviously she is still mad at me and I can’t blame her. I was a real bitch.
Patrick: Family troubles again? Wanna talk about it?
I read the message and wonder for a minute if I should actually tell him everything and more. If I should just tell him that everything was still a lie, but I decide against it. He’s the only person I have left at this stage. I don’t want to lose him as well.
Cory: Nah. Not that important. Just needed to tell someone that I’m scared.
Patrick: Don’t worry. I will protect you if you’re scared. Want me 2 come and get you? You can sleep at my place tonight.
At this point I actually feel a stinging behind my eyes. Patrick is such a kind soul. He would do anything to help the people he cares for. He’s willing to come and get me, and I am pretty sure that if I didn’t lie from the beginning I would have been able to go to him with any of my troubles. Weirdly… He’s nothing like I imagined him to be. He’s not the rich pompous ass. He’s actually down to earth and money means nothing to him. If I had known that sooner things would’ve been so much different, I’m sure.
Cory: Wish I could, but I can’t. I think I’m gonna be stuck for quite a while. What would you do if you found out someone you really liked lied to you?
I just need to know if he would throw me away. I just need to know if I will eventually lose yet something else that means the world to me even though I have already lost so much that losing one more thing couldn’t possibly that bad.
I read the word he sent and I can feel myself going cold all over.
Cory: On what?
I breathe deeply before I open up the new message from him.
Patrick: If they were just lying to hurt me or to protect me. Circumstances makes all the difference. Does this have something to do with what’s going on there by you?
I exhale and this time I can’t stop a tear from leaving my eye. My chest is burning so badly, it feels like I am running at high speed in a marathon made for serious athletes.
Cory: Yeah. Something like that.
I want to phone him so badly. I need to hear Patrick’s voice, but at the same time I am scared that he will hear that my throat is closed up and that I might be half-crying at the moment. And as if to be saved from the bell from doing something stupid in calling Patrick and telling him everything about myself and more, my mom opens the driver’s side’s door and climbs back into the car. She looks better. Her hair is made up into a fresh ponytail and her face has been washed even though her eyes are still red from crying.
“Everything is going to be okay,” she says as she looks at me, wiping my cheeks even though there are hardly any tears. “Maybe you should get a little bit of sleep.”
I ignore all further messages from Patrick, even the ones where he asks me if I’m okay, but I don’t sleep a single minute that night. The street lights are too bright and the shadows of people walking by makes my heart race so much that I feel like I’m going to go crazy. Somehow my mom does fall asleep somewhere around four in the morning. I know because her crying has stopped completely and she snores a bit. I promise myself that tomorrow I will skip a class or two and sleep behind the bleachers so that I can stay awake again tomorrow night.