After I'm done with school for the day I go straight home. When I arrive, I find Rita in the kitchen and ask her if my mom has eaten or gotten up today.
"I'm sorry Cade, she's been in her room all day. I brought her lunch, but she didn't touch it." She tells me.
"That's alright Rita, could you make her a plate? I'll bring it to her and try to get her to eat."
My mom is really depressed. She hasn't left the house all summer. Ever since what happened last November she's been in rough shape. Everyone in our house but me and her seem to be over what happened. Maybe it's because they have other things to channel their energy into.
When the plate is done, I go up to my mom's room. I knock but there is no answer, so I go inside. I see my mom lying in bed staring out the window.
As I approach, I say, "Hi mom, I brought you some food."
"Oh thanks, you can just set it down I'm not very hungry."
"Rita said you hadn't eaten all day. Could you try to eat some please?"
"Oh, you don't need to worry about me. I'm fine Hunny."
"I guess I'll try."
I bring her the plate and sit on the chair beside the bed. When she starts to eat a bit of food I begin talking again.
"It was my first day of school today. It went well. I'm going to get help in Spanish this year."
My mom nods and I continue talking. This is what it was always like. She would barely respond while I talked. I kept talking because I knew how lonely she was. Maybe just hearing about my day would help her a small bit.
Once she had stopped eating, I decided to ask her a question, "Hey mom I was wondering if maybe you'd watch a movie with me in the media room? You know like we used to do when I was little."
"How about we do it the next time your father is out of town? I'm not really feeling up to it tonight."
"Sure, dad is away Wednesday to Friday this week. We could do Wednesday night."
"Sounds good, but you'll have to remind me, you know how my memory is these days."
"Sure, well I got some homework to do."
"Ok, Hunny have a good night."
And with that I leave the room. It may seem small, but I have not gotten her to agree to do anything with me since it all happened. I was glad that we might get to watch a movie this week.
When I reach the kitchen, I see my older brother Kyle having a snack while looking at his phone.
"How's she doing?" He asks.
"Okay, I guess. I got her to eat. She said she would watch a movie with me on Wednesday. So that's progress."
"Well, that's good. I was thinking that we should convince her to see a psychiatrist." He says.
"No. She said she didn't want to go back to the doctors. The last time we brought it up she locked herself in her room for a week. I don't want to put her through that again."
"Cade, she needs help. You aren't enough. It's not your job to fix her. She needs professionals."
"No, give it more time. Once she opens up more and starts doing things with us then we can try. She's too fragile right now."
"Fine, but I think she needs professional help."
"Whatever," I say and leave the room.
I head to my bedroom. The rest of my night is uneventful. I do some homework, eat supper, and go to bed dreading school the next day.
I wake up to a warm liquid under my back and Tomàs crying. "What's wrong Chiquito?"
"I made a mess. Don't tell mom!"
"It's ok, everyone has accidents. We can clean it up together and then get back to bed."
"Moma said I hat to stop the accidents. She said I'm too old. Last time she made me sleep on it for the rest of the night."
"If you have another accident come get me. She wrong it's okay. I used to pee the bed when I was little too. Well, get you some pull-ups tomorrow."
"O-tay Lota." Tomás says while sniffling.
After it’s all cleaned up, we went back to bed. I needed to talk to my mom about this. She can't make him lay in urine. I swear she's loosing her mind. She was never the best mom, but I don't ever remember her doing that to me. Sometimes I wondered if we'd be better off without her.
I walk up a few hours later to my alarm. I get myself and Tomás ready. I decided to wear a bit nicer clothes, so I don't stick out so bad. I choose black leggings and a white and red floral wrap top that I used to wear when I worked in the club. I finish the outfit with chunky boots. Hopefully, I'd get fewer stares today. I didn't realize people dressed so fancy for school.
After Tomàs and I had both eaten breakfast I checked on my mom. Both she and her boyfriend were still asleep, so I let them be.
I dropped Tomàs off at preschool on the way to my high school. I arrived early since I am meeting with Mr. Garett before school starts. I head to the office once I arrive.
"Hi, Lola Mr. Garett will call you in a moment. Just take a seat." The secretary tells me.
A few moments later Mr. Garett calls me, and I follow him into his office.
"How was your first day Lola?"
"Alright, as far as firsts days go," I reply.
"I hope the other students are treating you alright. We have had some issues in the past with bullying. Especially with new students. Anyway, I'd like to see you 2 times a week. We can meet before or after school, at lunch or during any free periods you have. Do you know what days and times would work best?"
Once we had set up the times I'd see him in the next month he started to talk some more.
"Are there any activities you are thinking of joining?"
"Well, I've never really had time to join activities, so I'm not sure."
"Well how about I tell you some and then you could maybe try some out."
"Sure," I reply, already knowing I'll pick Spanish tutoring and drama club. I would like to try something else, but I don't have the time. I've always wanted to play a sport, but life got in the way.
"For clubs, there is chess, drama, film, cooking, photography, creative writing, amnesty, and debate just to name a few. We also have a peer tutoring program. If there is a subject you excel in you could tutor a classmate in it. We also have various sports teams and artistic activities that you would have to try out for. Right now, you could try out for cross country or volleyball. Our school play will be holding auditions in about a few weeks. Do any of those interest you?"
"Umm, I speak and write Spanish fluently so I could tutor someone in that. I might also want to try drama club."
"That sounds awesome Lola. I'll sign you up for peer tutoring. You'll meet with the Spanish teacher and other peer tutors and then will be given a student or multiple students depending on what you are comfortable with. The first drama club meeting is on Wednesday. It's in room 114, you can just go there after class."
"Sounds good, thanks."
"I know I told you this yesterday but everything you say to me here is confidential. There are a few exceptions, if I believe that you or someone else will be hurt or has been hurt, I must inform the appropriate authorities."
I nod so he continues. "I want you to feel safe when talking to me. Know that I'm not here to judge you. I want to help so that you can do your best. Now is there anything you would like to talk about for the rest of our time?"
"Umm, I'm not really sure," I tell him. It might be nice to have someone to talk to about my life. But I need to be smart about what I say. He can't find out about the illegal things I do. He'd have to tell someone.
"How about you tell me a bit about your younger brother."
"Well, his name is Tomàs. He's the sweetest little boy. I've had to help out a lot with raising him since my mom needed help."
"I see and is Tomàs' father in the picture."
"No, I don't know who his father is and I don't think my mom is even sure, I have some ideas of who it might be but, yeah that’s how it goes with my mom.”
"Oh, what do you think about that?"
"That's how my mom is. She's pregnant again, I don't know who the dad is this time either. She's due in 2 months."
"Are you going to be helping out with the new baby?"
"Yeah, I'm pretty sure it will be the same as when Tomàs was born. We both pitch in. Sometimes she'll get really depressed and sleep for days. Other times she'll go out and I'll be on my own for days or weeks. And sometimes she'll be the perfect parent."
"Can you predict which she'll do, or does it seem random?"
"I honestly have no idea how's she's going to be from day to day."
"How long has it been like this?"
"Well, she was always a bit like this, then when my dad died, she got worse. See she’s bipolar, she was diagnosed before I was born. She has a hard time taking her meds. Now that she’s pregnant she can’t take her normal meds so her condition is even worse. Plus she has lots of addictions issues.”
“You know we could contact child services if you want, you and your siblings could be put into care while she got help. This is only if you want. No one seems to be in danger. So, I don't have to report anything."
"Okay, I won't. But may I ask why?"
"After my dad died my mom had an episode where she got super high. My older brother and I were put into temporary care- my grandparents were undocumented immigrants so they couldn't legally take us in. It was awful. My brother- sorry it's hard for me to talk about. Umm some horrible things happened. No one listened to me." I start sobbing. Shit, I shouldn't have brought this up.
Mr. Garett passed me a box of tissues and I sat there crying for the rest of our time. When the bell rang, I tried to clean myself up.
"It's okay I'll write you a note you can be late."
"Thanks, sorry about that. It's hard for me to talk about my older brother. He died when I was 13. I really miss him."
"It looks like you needed to get that out."
When I'm calm enough, I go to my locker then head to English class. As I'm walking, I think about putting a wire in Mr. Garett's office. I think about what I just said and feel bad about maybe hearing Cade have a breakdown. I decide to put off placing the wire. If I eventually place the wire, I will make Leo listen and let me know if something important comes up. I don't want to invade Cade's privacy, it feels wrong. But then again, this whole job feels wrong.
I walk into class and hand the teacher the note. As I walk to the desk, I sat in yesterday everyone's eyes are on me. So much for trying not to draw attention to myself.