The room is dark, the night is quiet, and the only sounds noticeable is the wind as it travels through the night. A woman in a white silk nightgown walks in and she releases a loud breath. Her eyes wander around and there is a hint of hesitation in her expression. She walks further into the room and sits on the bed. There is a picture on her nightstand. It’s a picture with her son, she is visibly younger than she is right now. The smile on her face in the picture is purer than she has recently.
A tear falls unto the picture and she can almost hear the sound as it drops unto the picture. She wipes it off because she doesn’t want to ruin it. This is just one of the many that she has lying around the house but it is as special to her as any of the other ones. The woman drops the frame back on the table and stands up from the bed. She walks to the door of the room and walks out quietly. The hallway is dimly lit with yellow bulb candles. She knows where to go; she could always find her way into his room with her eyes closed. The door to the room is slightly ajar, she can hear the sound of his video game. She knows he is still awake when he should actually be asleep. He does this all the time and when she tries to get him to go to bed, he’d pull a tantrum.
She opens the door further and the room is bright, all the lights are on. Unlike the rest of the house. He can’t go to bed if the lights are off. That is how he has always been. He looks up from the game and for a second she thinks he is going to smile at her, but he doesn’t. His stare is gone as quick as it came. He is back to his game and back to ignoring her.
‘’You should go to bed’’ she walks into the room but he doesn’t even flinch. He is a grown man, in his thirties but she talks to him like a six-year-old child. She walks to the bed and sits down next to him ‘’Come on Sam. It is past your bedtime’’ he looks at her like he doesn’t understand what she is saying but she knows that he does.
She sighs and grabs the Nintendo from him. He frowns but his eyes are stuck to the game in her grip. He is angry but she knows he wouldn’t hurt her. He is a fully grown man but he doesn’t even know it. She puts the game on the bedside table and he is still watching it; longing for it. He doesn’t say anything to her, he never does.
‘’Go to bed’’ she warns him as she leaves his room and heads back into hers. She closes the door and walks into the bathroom.
She walks over to her tub and opens the tap, sitting on the edge. The water rushes out as she blocks the drain. The pace at which the water fills up only speeds up her decision. She had thought about this for so long and to finally come to terms with the fact that she was going to do this was the bravest part.
She is scared but she is ready.
The water reaches the top and she closes the tap, satisfied. She walks over to the cabinet just above the sink and opens it—revealing a lot of packets of medicine. Most of them are for her arthritis, the pain she can never let go of. The rest of them are for sam. The only baggage she cannot let go of. She grabs the only one that can give her the escape she has been longing for. the label is written in bold “Phenazepam”. The only thing that helps her sleep. She has been taking it for a couple of months now. She is not supposed to take more than two as prescribed by her doctor but now she wants to sleep forever.
She grabs the bottle and walks back to the tub. The water is cold, it is exactly what she needs. Still, in her nightdress, she enters the tub and shivers from the temperature of the water. “s**t” she mumbles under her breath. She ignores the feeling because she has been in pain all her life. The happy moments stopped when he came. She hates to think of him as a burden but that is all she sees in him when she looks at him. She still loves him; she wishes she didn’t resent him as much as she does but that is the point she is in right now and leaving is the only sensible thing to do.
She uncaps the container that holds unto her future. The pills are light blue and white, her favorite colors. Blue because her son’s eyes are the brightest of blue and white because it represents peace—which she longs for desperately. She places the drugs on the edge of the tub and reaches for the glass of wine she had placed there earlier. The glass is red and full to the brim. This is the only thing that will give her the courage to do this. She is scared-fucking terrified but she has made this decision and there is no going back.
She takes a sip of the drink and suddenly all the nerves are dissipating. It is doing its job. She gulps a lot more than a sip this time and a soft smile creeps up to her face. She grabs the bottle and reopens the cap, pouring the pills unto her palm she takes a deep breath ‘’this is it Evelyn” she pours the pills into her mouth and struggles to swallow it. Using the glass of wine, the uncountable amount of medicine goes down her throat and she lies back calmly. She is not even scared anymore. She is ready now.
Sitting in the filled tub of water, she counts slowly losing track of time, waiting for the after effect of taking that much. It feels like time is going slow. She goes back to the past, in her mind. Thinking about how it was then and why it is the way it is now. She remembers him, the man she fell in love with, the man that promised her the rest of their lives together—happy.
Those times that were once a happy time suddenly become a sad memory. The times of endless possibilities, the times were she believed in new beginnings. A tear slides to her cheek but she ignores it, she is getting dizzy, she is falling into her awaited slumber.
She looks around the bathroom, she is walking away from this life. the life she hates so much. She can’t wait for the escape, she is ready to go. His face pops up suddenly and she gets a quick feeling of regret. She shouldn’t leave him, she is the only one he has. How would he survive without her?
Now, this doesn’t seem like a good idea anymore, this is the most selfish thing she has ever done in her life. How can a mother do this to a sick child? She tries to get up from the tub but she falls back weakly. The tears rush out at this point. She cries, desperate for a way out of the most stupid decision she has ever made. There is no going back now, she is going to leave Sam all alone in a world that doesn’t understand him.
Her eyes close and she tries to get them back open but she can’t, she is too weak. The drugs are working now and as the life flashes from her eyes, she thinks back to the past.
‘’I don’t want to go father” she smiles sheepishly at the man. They are seated at the dinner table. The sun is shining brightly. The man looks at her from the large horn-rimmed glasses in his face. He shakes his head at her in disbelief “You don’t want to go to college?”
She has been waiting for this for so long and all of a sudden she is not interested anymore.
“Yes, I don’t want to leave you and mother. You still need me, the shop still needs me. How will you guys do it all without me here?”
He laughs “You are doing that thing you always do” he is smiling. She can tell he is not upset with the fact that she doesn’t want to go to college or at least it seems like he is not even taking her seriously.
“What thing” she acts oblivious. She knows what he is going to say. Everyone calls her runaway Evie for a reason.
“Running away because you are scared”
She shakes her head, her mom walks into the dining room and she is dressed in a flower printed dress. Her hair is a bright blonde—almost white with the brightest blue eyes. She drops a plate in front of her husband and Evelyn walks into the kitchen and grabs hers.
“Honey, Evelyn is doing that thing again” Evelyn overhears her father tell her mother.
“Running away?” her mother asks but it sounds more like a statement. Everyone already knows her. This is the usual thing she does.
She drops her plate on the table “I am not running away, I just don’t think it is such a good idea to leave you guys right now”
Her mom sits down next to her, interested in where this conversation is going “And why not?” she asks curiously in her answer.
The store, it is doing so well right now, dad is pretty much overwhelmed. You guys can’t do it all alone and besides, I could start next year. I’d just defer my admission” she says it like it is the best idea anyone has ever had.
Her father takes a bite of his bacon, still watching her “We are fine honey” Sarah—her mother assures her, touching her on her shoulder warmly. Evie shakes her head, she wants to convince them. She is not ready to leave right now.
She is scared.
‘’ But…’’ John cuts her off ‘’No buts Evie, you are leaving this town, you are going to have the best four years of your life. No running away from this, you can’t just decide to not go to college just because you think we wouldn’t be fine without you. You need to do this. You are going to do this’’
She sighs because her father is a very stubborn man. He is not going to let her have her way. This is as important to him as it was to her. They had planned for this all her life. Growing up; that was the plan. Study, get straight A’s. apply for a great college and be the best person she could ever be and now she was trying to run away from it.
She was being a coward.
The rest of breakfast is quiet, uneventful but the decision is made. She cannot escape this.
Evelyn walks into her dad’s convenience store and she is greeted by her best friend Jamil. Jamil is an Indian American. He waves at her with a wide smile and stands up from the seat behind the counter “You are late” he points out.
She apologizes immediately “I am so sorry. There was a whole thing happening at my house. It ended in a lecture and you know how my dad’s lectures are”
Her father’s lectures were always long. They were never even straight forward. Somehow he always seemed to digress to other topics. Like he started out with talking about why she needed to go to college, then he digressed to how hard it was for him growing up. How he had to start from the bottom, how he couldn’t go to college because his father believed school was the beginning of complete and utter madness. That it wasn’t important. From that he’d go on to how he met her mother. Things that didn’t have anything to do with what they were even talking about in the beginning.
“Ah. Anyways, I need to get going, I am late for my shift at the diner’’ he clocks out with his card “What led to the lecture by the way” he questions.
She laughs “I don’t want to go to college anymore’’
He opens his eyes wide “Stanford ?” he asks in disbelief.
She nods “I think I actually need a break from school for a while. You know maybe take a gap year?”
He nods “But you worked so hard for this. And you know your scholarship will not be there next year. You can’t pass up this opportunity’’
‘’Then why are you running away from this?”
She shrugs ‘’I am scared okay. Scared to fail, after working so hard. What if I get there and I am not as smart as I think I am?” she is deflecting. As usual. Evelyn has never been able to handle tough situations and maybe it is because she had been sheltered from the world by her parents.
‘’You know you are like the smartest person I know”
She rolls her eyes “You didn’t have much to compare me to in this town. The smartest thing anyone has ever done in this town is leaving”
He laughs ‘’Jokes apart, you need to do this. This is your chance to actually run towards something instead of away’’
He had a point.
‘’And if you actually get there and become the failure you are so scared to become, you at least say you did your absolute best’’
She nods ‘’Thanks Jamil’’
She is going to do this. She thought to herself.