We were done by midnight. When I was ready for bed, my mother came into my room after a quiet knock on the door. A small pill was in her palm. She looked nervous. Maybe embarrassed by the new routine. She offered me a fragile smile as though she was sorry for me and sorry for what she had to do because this was as new for her as it was for me. She was trying her best.
I popped the pill into my mouth, which could have been confused for an Aspirin, then drank the water. I gave my mother a hug and told her, “Thank you.” I loved her still, even if I felt that she was somehow drifting further from me, or I from her.
My mother whispered, “We’ll get through this, Sarah. We’ll get through this together.” She had tears in her eyes.
With tears of my own, I said, “I know.”
“Goodnight. Sleep well.”
“I will. Goodnight.”
My mother walked down the hall. I felt as though she had left me behind in the woods, bundled up in a cap and mittens and forgotten. I glanced at my bedroom window, vacant and ordinary. Then I went into my bathroom and spit the pill into the toilet.
The woman visited that night. A return to normalcy. There was never a choice to be found.