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I was a sucker for tears. And my mother knew it. Every time I would head off
enough steam to finally confront her, make her see how she was destroying
herself and ruining everything, she would cry and I would feel about two inches
tall as well as four years old. When I was young we had lived in a ratty old
apartment on Hastings, where sirens could be heard throughout the whole night,
non-stop and occasionally gunshots. My mother would come home with her angluar
face tear stained from all of the stress and pressure, and even then I was a
I would sidle up next to her, quietly pull off her shoes, take down her hair,
drag a blanket over her and give her a hug, rocking her back and forth, as if
she was the child and I was the parent. But that was my mother and me, her
plying for my sympathy and I being the sucker I am, giving in.
"Delly, please...I know," my mother paused and let out a tortured sob, then
buried her face in her hands. I was helpless. I was a monster. I immediately
walked towards her and sat beside her, then, enfolded her into my arms.
"Shhh...," I soothed, rubbing her back in a comforting gesture. "It's alright,
Jenny." I brushed her hair back from her forehead and we sat like that for a few
moments, until she finally pulled away and gave me a weak smile.
"I'm sorry, honeybug," she said, using her nickname for me and wiping her tears
away with the back of her hand, sniffling all the while. "It's just that...it's
the stress..." I nodded and she stood. "Get some sleep, alright?" She patted my
shoulder companiably and left the room, leaving me in the darkness and my
I hated myself. I hated that I was weak. "She's faking it, you know," I told
myself, although I already knew.
"Why do you believe her then?" That was a
question I couldn't answer, because I just plainly did not know. I sighed and
slowly got up off the couch. Jenny was probably asleep by now. I knew her night
ritual by heart. She fell asleep in her clothes, on top of the covers. I would
usually come in and tuck her in. This time I didn't. I instead trudged down the
narrow hallway to my room and fell onto the bed staring up at the ceiling.
And I found myself wondering about where the man who sired me was. The man I was
supposed to call my father. Jenny never liked to talk about him, and whenever I
brought him up, she would quickly change the subject. I knew it hurt her to talk
about him, but I knew that I needed to know, needed to know why he wasn't here
at home with us, why he wasn't sitting on the armchair in front of the TV and
chugging down beer, and watching Monday Night Football like all the other old
guys I knew. Or maybe he was the quiet bookish type, sort of like me, his nose
encased in the dusty pages of Edgar Allan Poe's musings. Whatever he was, I
didn't know and I kept thinking of how it might have turned out if things were
The door creaked open, but I wasn't afraid; I knew who it was. "Come up,
Callie," I said, thumping my hand on the bed and minutes later I was joined by a
furry, feisty feline. She licked my fingers, and I knew she wanted my attention.
I didn't know why I had even taken Callie in or how I had convinced Jenny that I
was responsible enough to take care of her. Callie was a scruffy thing, mostly
ugly, but the minute I had laid my eyes on her I had thought the word :
beautiful. I scratched that place behind her ears and she purred softly, then
curled up at my side. I could hear her still purring as she fell into a deep
kitty sleep. I smiled, stroking her fur, finding comfort in the familiarity.
"'Night," I whispered sleepily, my hand falling still, and my body becoming lax.
I was finally asleep.
"Jenny, Jenny...wake up," I shook the form lying on the bed. She didn't move. I
sighed, rolling my eyes and flipping my hair out of my face. I moved to the
other side of the bed and tried again. Jenny was being uncooperative this
morning, but it wasn't unusual for her to sleep like the dead. "Dammit, Jenny.
You're going to be late for work." She still didn't seem to care, but turned
away, mumbling something that sounded suspiciously like "honeybug". I smiled at
her. It was hard to be mad at her, and the fact that I was a sucker for tears
didn't help much either.
I walked into the adjoining bathroom, grabbing a bucket from yesterday's use and
filling it up with water. It was the only way. When it was completely filled, I
carried it to the bed, smiling lovingly at Jenny's sleeping form. Then I heaved
the bucket forward, watching in sickeningly good humour, at the point where the
cold water had excited a reaction out of her.
"What the...?!" She sat erect and started looking blindly around her, her eyes
unfocused, until they landed on me. "That was a dirty trick, Delly," she said
angrily, wiping water almost brutally from her face. "Don't ever do it again."
"I snorted, "Yeah right. How else was I supposed to wake you up?"
Jenny was glaring at me, "How about continued persistence? Ever heard of that?"
"It wouldn't have turned out to be as fun as this," I grinned at her, pulling a
tiny smile from her, even though she tried to hide it.
"Still," Jenny said, getting out of bed and walking towards the bathroom. "It
wasn't a very nice thing to do, Delly. I hope you don't treat your friends like
this, too." Jenny was always more perkier and smarter in the mornings, but she
slowed down in the afternoons and evenings until she was a crying puddle of hopelessness. I hated that about her. I rolled my eyes and left the room without
Fifteen minutes later, Jenny was ready to go to her waitressing job at the
Diner. I didn't look at her, but stared at the frootloops turning soggy in my
milk. She gave my shoulder a squeeze and I felt the courage seep back into me. I
knew that the dreaded task ahead of me wasn't something I would enjoy doing.
"Jenny," I started, waiting for her attention to turn back to me. When it did, I
continued, "I'm not going to agree with the drugs thing. If I catch you smoking
pot, I'm going to have to report you." I cringed, hating how I sounded, like one
of those TV moms. "I'm going to have to report you"? Where did I come up with
this stuff? Jenny's face went pale and I knew she was going to try to cry her
way out of this one as she had last night.
"I'm serious. You could get fired. Then where would we be? I mean, you can't
depend on your slimy boyfriend to provide for us after. He'll leave as soon as
the cash stops flowing. We haven't even payed the rent money yet." Jenny said
nothing, but her lower lip quivered in a warning I should have heeded. I didn't.
I raked my fingers through my brown hair, scowling. "Dammit, Jenny. Don't you
care that we might end up on the streets again? We've worked so hard to get
where we are. Do you want to throw it all away just like that?" I was yelling by
now, so worked up, I could feel my eyes burning in tears I wouldn't shed. I had
never gotten this frustrated before.
I didn't want to live under a tarp on Hastings again. We had just narrowly
escaped that fate before we died out there. I didn't want to have to deal with
it again. Jenny turned on the water works then.
She fell onto a kitchen chair, weeping. "I'm sorry, Delly....I'm s-so
s-s-sorry..." she blubbered, but this time, the first time in all of my sixteen
years of life, I didn't give in. I stood there, emotionless.
"If you were really sorry," I said quietly, wanting to despise Jenny for such an
underhanded trick, but unable to find the hate. "You would stop." I stalked out
of the house then, slamming the door behind me, but hearing it swing open.
"Where are you going, Delly?" I heard Jenny's panicked cry. I almost laughed.
Served her right for thinking I was running away. I should, but no matter what,
I knew I couldn't leave Jenny alone like that. It would be like leaving a baby
on the railway tracks. Helpless, ignorant, afraid. It would be a cruel
"I'm going to school!" I called over my shoulder. "Do anything for all I care!
Go see your slimy boyfriend! Go snort something! Just leave me alone!" And I
strode down the hall, never once looking back. The last time I ever saw Jenny,
before she was hit by the bus that comes by the diner, after crossing the street
without looking. Bang. Dead. Just like that.
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