“Mom, it’s time to get up.” Johnny gently touched her exposed shoulder, which was barely peaking out of the top of the navy blue comforter, and waited for her to acknowledge him. She didn’t. “Mom… mom, it’s seven o’clock. You need to get up.” He glanced at the nightstand by her bed and sighed as he spotted the pill bottles lined up by the phone.
“I don’t need this right now,” he thought. The pills weren’t a shock but he knew they would make his job more difficult. He pushed a little harder on her shoulder, exerting enough force that his mother’s head moved and that was enough to produce the desired results. All he needed was some type of recognition from her, anything, and he knew he’d broken through the barrier of Ambien and a hard life that made her rare voyage to slumber land so deep and impenetrable.
“Mom, it’s Thursday morning and I’m heading to school. Brittany’s already in the shower and I put your cup of coffee in the bathroom. It’s waiting for you but you need to get moving.” He stared at her, giving her a couple of beats to respond. “Mom?”
“I’m good, I’m good.” Her pre-conscious croak was all he needed to hear. “Thanks, baby. Have a good day.” She smiled at him, eyes still closed, hair splayed in several directions around her head.
“I will, mom. Call me later.” He picked up his lunch bag in the kitchen and crammed it in to his backpack. He was almost out the door when he realized he’d forgotten something. He ran back into the kitchen, grabbed a notepad next to the phone and scratched out a note to his sister. “Britt, here’s your lunch money. Should be enough for two days. Have a good one… –J.”
He pulled his wallet out of the back pocket of his jeans and extracted a five-dollar bill. He set it on top of the note and was careful to place both next to the remote control where he was assured she would find it. He hesitated, took one more look around the kitchen, deemed it presentable and left through the garage door. What extra time he had given himself had been sucked up by the small delays throughout the morning. He could not afford to be late to Algebra again. Hopefully the traffic would be light.
This is one chapter in a series of nine, an experiment in weaving people’s stories into each other, showing cause and affect in how we treat each other regardless of how well we know each other. A casual comment to a stranger may trigger big things but we will probably never know…