Mother.

A short exercise  written from a prompt in Method and Madness by Alice LaPlante:

That time Mikey put his arm through the back door window didn’t bother me so much, because that was an accident.  The sliced-up vein in the crook of his elbow even bled behind the furniture, and on the phone jacks, from the back door to the front hall. My two-doors-down neighbour even made a tourniquet with his belt (the doctor said he might have damaged the vein), but this was worse. No blood. It happened quietly.

The rocking chair had been moved to the dining room, next to the table. At seven o’clock, she was rocking in it in the dark doorway, eyes closed, impossible to miss. I brushed my teeth at the kitchen sink. The green numbers on the microwave are alien tail lights even in memory: bright and strange. I climbed up creaking stairs slick with layers of cracked orange paint. I went back to reading Bryce Courtenay. At seven-thirty, my father called her name as if to wake her. At seven thirty-two, he called the ambulance.

I listened from upstairs. The microwave flashed 19:37 – or so I imagine. There had been a power outage the day before – we had reset the clock in military time – what my family sometimes called “in French.” Dad kept her talking. She was bleary-eyed, her voice thick with sleep.  Wanting to know why he was bothering her. At seven o’clock, I had missed the Tylenol on the table. Tylenol – not sleeping pills or Drain-O. “An obvious cry for help.”

Four sessions at the Douglas Institute was all they gave her. They call it that now – an Institute. I did not go with them to the hospital. There are no scars – not like the bumpy one that Mikey still bears where they didn’t get all the glass. The rocking chair was moved back to its place. We never talk about it, except as ‘when I tried to do what I did.’

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