OYM Day 34: Poor Girl, Rising Sun Pt 2
I crept through the ravine, being mindful of the broken sticks, river rock, and miscellaneous trash. A car flew by on the road above me and the headlights reflected on an empty green bottle. We used to return our soda bottles, her and I. We’d get a nickel for each one and we didn’t even do anything with the nickels. I guess it just made us feel good to borrow the bottles and give them back. She always let me have my own soda, too. Not share like the other kids in our complex had to. Some days we’d use straws if we were feeling fancy and one time she even rubbed a lime on the rim of the bottle of my Coke. My grandpa taught her that. I could see her face just then. Her blonde hair, her peach colored cheeks, and the dimples on either side of her smile. She was tall and elegant. She cared too much. She never said no to anyone and that’s what got me here, in this ravine, running from a man that is allowed to live in this same town, in plain sight.
We had just moved into a new apartment across the street. We didn’t need a truck. We just walked everything we owned to the other side of the road, piece by piece. She made it fun. She put a lampshade on her head. She put the spaghetti pot on mine. It took all weekend, but I didn’t care. A few times a man would stop his car and ask if she needed help, ignoring my existence, and she would politely decline, while I rolled my eyes and gave one guy the finger. They never looked her in the eye when they spoke to her. Just up and down, up and down, like animals. You want nothing to do with animals like that. They just want something. And sometimes you just got nothing to give but directions out of town. That’s what she’d say.
Daryl didn’t stop us that day and offer to help. No. I didn’t know it then, but he was on his way to find us. He was just 70 or so miles shy of his destination, making a quick stop at the hardware store for zip ties and electrical tape. That’s what the receipt would show. But Daryl works in HVAC and those are really just everyday supplies. That’s what the lawyer would say. And my mom and Daryl hadn’t seen each other since my 6th birthday. That’s what Daryl would say. I had only seen him a handful of times in my life. My grandpa said he didn’t even come into the hospital when I was born. He was out in the parking lot, sitting in his truck with the motor on, piss drunk. He thinks I’m not his. I wish I wasn’t. That’s what I say.
We were always moving. Mom said she liked the freedom to see the country, but I will say she explored a lot of similar places. And not the fun places either. We had 3 different apartments in Nebraska, a handful in the Dakotas, and all my mom talked about was California. They were all the same. The skies were always white or gray. My mom talked about the blue sky in California and said she could see it every time she looked in my eyes. I got my eyes from him. I wonder if they remind her of him, too.
I could make out the outline of the church in the distance, the stained glass illuminating through the dead trees. If I could make it to the church, I could use the phone and call the police. Or my grandpa. But he took out his hearing aids at night. And he might be mad at me for this. Really mad.
I heard a fast car on the road and worried he might get to me before I could make a call for help. I paused to open my knife and held it, turning it over in my hand. It wasn’t my knife. It was his. It was sitting right there in his truck. I took it 3 days ago when I first started watching him. It had a jade handle with a stubby blade. I wondered if I held the murder weapon in my hand. But I knew I didn’t. The police searched his house, his truck. They didn’t find anything. Not a speck of blood, or hair, or fingernail. But what about the scratches on his forearms? His freshly detailed truck bed? The receipt from the hardware store?
I wish the judge gave a shit. Instead, within a matter of a few weeks, the case went cold and life resumed. Just without my mother. Daryl was brought in on a slew of other charges like fraudulent checks, he was questioned , but he would walk free. He was a showman. A real master of his art. I know that’s why she liked him. Sometimes I think I’ll become like him…laughing loudly at things that aren’t funny, gassing up my buddies but ogling their spouse, addicted to drink and excess. More, more, more, until I wake up and don’t realize my child’s been born.
I wish they let me talk. Instead I stayed with my neighbor one door over, the piano teacher, until my grandpa could make arrangements for me. I spent what felt like an eternity looking out her foggy living room window, searching for my mom. I would listen to scales and shitty renditions of twinkle twinkle little star until my eyes would become heavy. Just as I would start to fall asleep I would see her…running up to our building, holding a plastic bag of groceries, or a coke bottle with a straw. She’d look right at me and say she’d be right up. But she never came. And I know, she’s never coming back.