We’re All Strangers: Chapter 1

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“Where have you been?” Jason heard a voice shout from the darkness. He didn’t answer. A lamp switch clicked. Bright light flooded the room. He shielded his eyes and kept his mouth shut. Jenny clenched her jaw and crossed and uncrossed her legs before standing. “I guess I’ll say it again. Where have you been? It’s 3 in the morning, where have you been.” A single tear trails down her cheek. “The kids were crying because their dad wasn’t here to put them to bed.”

“I was with my damn friends. It’s not like you give a shit anyways.” Jason mumbles to Jenny with a drunk slur kicking his boots off as he plops down in the worn-out brown recliner.  

“I’m your wife, of course I give a shit. Not only am I worried so are your children. What have you been up to? You’ve been acting strange lately. Are you hiding something from me?” Jenny says raising her voice as she starts to stand over Jason in the recliner, letting her tears take the wheel. The atmosphere in the room gets dark and cold. Emotions start to surround the unhappy couple.

“What the hell would I be hiding? This is bullshit. I’m sick of coming in here every day and the first thing anyone does is yell at me. No wonder I don’t come home.”

“Maybe if you spent time with your family more than twenty minutes a day we wouldn’t have something to argue with you about. You are never here, and when you are it doesn’t even feel like the real you. You might be here but you’re not ‘here’ anymore. I’m starting to worry you’re hiding something that you need to tell me. So, what is it?” Jenny raises her voice while flaring her hands in the air.

“You need to chill out Jen. You’re always saying dumb shit. You’re a psycho!”

Jenny could feel her blood boiling. He looked at Jason with a murderous look on her face.. The look in her eyes terrified Jason as he realized what he had just done. Very calmly Jenny looked Jason in the eye and said, “Psycho? You think I’m being psycho? I’ll show you psycho!” Jenny slammed her hands down on the coffee table rattling all the half empty glasses, sending the over filled ashtray onto the floor.

I woke up to what sounded like broken glass and the smell of old cigarettes. I rubbed my sand-filled eyes and jumped out of my bed, falling over and kicking everything in my path. I fling my bedroom door open to find what had interrupted my slumber. I should have known it was my parents fighting. This time was worse than usual. Dad had finally hit mom’s last nerve. She wasn’t holding anything back. It was like a battlefield of emotions and mom’s team was showing no mercy. I’ve never seen my dad cry so much before that night. Mom was crying more, but that wasn’t anything new. “GUYS!” I yell from the top of my lungs. They stop for a second and look over at me in silence, but before I could get anything else out Dad screams at Mom.

“See what you did? You woke the kids up with all this yelling. You need to chill out.”

“Me chill out? You’re out here yelling as much as I am. How come no matter what the situation is it’s always my fault, not yours!” Mom snaps back. It was useless for me to do anything. It was like yelling at two dogs that continuously bark at each other all night long. The more you say, the louder the barks get. Pointless. It didn’t matter what I did or said, nothing worked anymore. I remember when my parents used to fight, I’d come into the room and tell them, “Guys, stop fighting.” or “Don’t yell guys, everything’s going to be okay.” They would smile at me and tell me thank you, and we would all share a hug. Now when I say something, I get dragged in or blamed. Then all of us are screaming at each other. I miss the old us. The happy us. When we all enjoyed dinners at the dining room table together or having movie night as we all curl up on the couch together. When we could go somewhere in public together for more than five minutes without being at each other’s throats. I miss my parents being madly in love with each other. Everywhere I go I’m told how cute they are together, how everyone can’t believe how much they are in love being high school sweethearts, being together forever. I used to think the same thing. Now I smile and nod knowing that’s not the case anymore.

We all used to be so happy, loving, and caring. Now it’s like we are all strangers. Mom doesn’t talk. Dad’s never around and Sebastien doesn’t do anything but sit in his room. Oh, and me? What do I do you ask? I mentally drain myself trying to keep the family together. I’m the peacemaker, always have been always will be, or so I thought. I want to help. I want to be the glue that keeps us together. I try so hard, but no one ever recognizes. Why do I even hold on? Why am I the only one who cares? The only one who wants happiness? It puzzles me every day. How come I’m the only one of us who wants to stay as a family. I thought the whole point of family is to carry each other through our darkness, to be each other’s shoulder to cry on, lend an ear to listen. But it’s just me, and it’s killing me. Slowly, but surely, I feel the hope slipping through my fingers. I begin to fear that there’s no going back, that we are doomed to hate each other. I don’t want to believe it but I’m starting to realize that is what’s happening. My worst nightmare.  

“You’re so stupid. Really Jenny? Why do you always have to be like this?” Dad replied as his voice crackles in and out.

“Why do I have to be like this? Why do you have to always get faded out of your mind to come home? Why do you have to avoid coming home to your family. Why do you have to be SUCH AN IGNORANT ASS JASON? Huh? Wanna answer any of these?” Mom says looking down at dad, as he doesn’t say anything else. “Can’t answer those questions can you? Yeah didn’t think so. Get out of my sight Jason. You disgust me.” Mom walks out of the living room down the dark hallway to her cold quiet room as she sobs in her hands.

Dad, faceless, sits and stares at the T.V. “You really don’t have anything to say?” I questioned dad. He continues to say nothing, and stares right through me. “Whatever dad.” I say as I walk away to go comfort mom.

“Mom?” I say as I creek open the door to her room. “Are you okay?”

“I’m never okay Kelsy. I just don’t know what to do anymore.” She sobs to me. I hug her, knowing I can’t say anything to make it better. I stroke her beautiful brunette hair back behind her ears and I rub her back. She squeeze me as she starts to hysterically cry into my arms.

“It’s gonna be okay mom. Really, we will be okay. Just keep holding on.”

“I just don’t feel like holding on anymore. It’s too much. It’s taking everything out of me, I’ve given all I can give, there’s nothing left Kelsy.” That killed me. My mother is a strong woman that has been through so much. I never thought she would just give up. I felt a tear trail down my cheek. “I’m sorry honey, I never thought I’d give up, but I can’t handle this mental abuse anymore.” She says as she wipes my tears. Mom leans in for a kiss on my forehead and then pulls me close for a hug. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry Kelsy.” She kept repeating as we sat in her room and held each other. The last thing I remember from that night were the sounds of faint sniffles as I fell asleep in my Mother’s arms.  

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