Xavier Cold

Page 41


Grandmother’s cool blue eyes lock on to me, and I slink down, trying my best to become invisible to rid myself from the weight of her stare.
“By bringing him along with you, perhaps we’ll get to know one another better.”
That sounds nice, but I know she hates me. The only reason she tolerates me is because she loves Mama. When she’s not around, Grandmother calls me names and shoves me.
I tried to tell Mama about it once, but she explained to me that Grandmother has a right to discipline me when I misbehave while she’s not around. After that, I never told Mama about anything that went on when she left me alone with her. I would do my best to make sure I was never alone with Grandmother though.
Mama sighs. “No. I like being on my own.”
“You don’t want to come live with me? Fine.” Grandmother slams her purse on the counter beside Mama and then fishes a rectangular piece of paper out from it. “Then, understand this, Gina. There will be no more money from me. I will not pay another penny on this apartment of yours, so when you decide to go out on a binge again and lose this new job of yours, don’t ask me for another handout. The only way I will continue to help you is if you move back home, where you belong.”
Grandmother tosses the check at Mama, and it flutters down to the floor as Grandmother grabs her purse and disappears through the front door as quickly as she came in.
It’s quiet in our kitchen for a few minutes before Mama begins humming “Jingle Bells” and continues to cut out little gingerbread men. She bumps her hip into mine. “Sing with me.”
She smiles at me as we both sing, and when we’re through, she gently pinches my chin. “You have your father’s eyes, and I know you’re going to be just as handsome as he was. Only promise me that you’ll be a better man than him. Promise me, when things get hard, you won’t run away and leave me like he did.”
“I promise,” I tell her. I mean it with my whole heart.
I stare into her eyes, and I don’t know how she get the idea that I would ever leave her when my biggest fear in this world is losing her, the only person in this messed up world who loves me.
“Such a good, strong boy,” Mama whispers. She bends down to kiss my cheek.
A gasp so deep comes out of me that it wakes me from a dead sleep. I sit up, stiff as a board, in my makeshift bed on the floor.
Heat still lingers on my cheek from where my mother kissed me in the dream. I clutch my shirtless chest as I attempt to slow my breathing down, but it’s no use. Even though this wasn’t a nightmare, it still yanks me back to the past, back to the place where all I can do is think about my mother.
I roll over onto my belly and begin to do vigorous push-ups, counting out loud as I work my body into pain so that I’ll forget.
“One hundred twenty-seven...”
I keep going, but the pain isn’t bringing my normal relief.
I twist my neck, focusing on the couch. I can’t forget my past while I’m in this house, while I’m surrounded by every painful memory throughout my lifetime.
Nothing good has ever come of this place. Coming here was a mistake.
I lift my head and realize the fifth of Jack I killed before going to bed is still flowing through my veins. Wvwn through my drunken haze, I can’t even bring myself to sit on the stupid fucking couch. Every time I see it, I see Mother’s face. Her dark hair and brown eyes are burned into my memory, and I don’t understand how she couldn’t love me more than the high she always sought out. Life was so good when she was clean. It was just her and me against the world.
It’s a fact that Mom never received the abuse from Grandmother that I did, so that couldn’t have been the reason Mom never wanted to live in the moment. Grandmother treated my mom like a princess, always telling me that her Gina was perfect, until the evil infection, which was my monster father’s seed, found its way into her daughter.
Maybe Grandmother was right. I do seem to fuck up everything I touch, and if I don’t stop myself soon, I’ll destroy Anna’s life, too.
I close my eyes as tears slip down my cheeks.
My Anna. My sweet Anna. I’m losing her.
I’m not good enough for her, and it was selfish of me to ever believe that I could keep someone as loyal and loving as her to myself.
I am a fuckup.
I am evil.
I don’t deserve her goodness, no matter how badly I crave it.
I do nothing but put her in danger, which is why I haven’t answered when she calls. Maybe distance will be good for us, and she’ll figure out what a waste of her time I am and leave me. The only way I can make sure she’s safe is to keep her as far away from me as possible.
I eye the couch, desperately needing it out of my face because I can’t take much more of reliving the shit of my past, the past that’s still ruining my life. I march over to the end of it and bend at the knees to pick it up. It easily lifts off the floor, and I drag it to the front door. I twist the knob and kick it open before I grip the middle of the couch and hoist it over one shoulder and my head. I step out onto the porch and toss the couch into the yard, and an audible crack echoes down the deserted street.
My thoughts run wild, and the only thing I can think of is how I want to be rid of this thing because of what it represents. I run back into the house and head straight for the kitchen to the drawer where Grandmother always kept a lighter for her candles. My fingers curl around the first one I see, and I sprint back outside and then down the steps to the couch. I drag it out to the middle of the street. With the flick of my thumb, a flame dances on the lighter, and I crouch down and hold the fire to the edge of the burlap material poking out beneath the plastic. It takes a moment, but eventually, flames take ahold of the fabric and lick their way around the couch before the entire thing is engulfed.
I take a step back, and relief washes over my chest at the very thought of never seeing this couch again. Now, I have to figure out a way to expel every other bad thing that plagues my life. It’s time to purge these fucking demons.
Soon, the only thing left of the spot where my mother died is a pile of smoldering ash. Watching the fire has sobered me up. Good thing, too, because the flickering of red and blue lights in the darkness catch my attention as a police car rolls up to where I’m standing.
Jesus. Just what I fucking need.
My body tenses. Every time cops come my way, there seems to be trouble.