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09 March, 2012

Don't Let It Bring You Down

“Come on, Crystal. Get up and we’ll talk about it.” Kim yanked the cord on the blinds, flooding the bedroom with blinding sunlight. A crystal teardrop hanging off the ceiling fan cast spastic rainbows over the dark, paneling walls. “It isn’t the end of the world.”

Kim sat on the edge of the bed and patted the lump that was her daughter, huddled under a comforter that was covered with fuchsia hearts. She traced the bumps of her spine, softened by the blanket’s batting, and remembered how scared she had been when Crystal was a baby. She was afraid that she would somehow break the delicate infant. “You’ll feel better if you eat something. I’m sure we have soda crackers and ginger ale. If you’re sick, that’ll help. I practically lived on those things the first four months I was pregnant with you.”

The high-pitched moan of truck brakes made Kim shiver. In front of the house, the garbage truck ground to a stop. Trash thumped into the truck’s hopper. When she got pregnant with Crystal half of the school had labeled her trash for getting knocked up by a bench-warming tight end on the varsity football team. “I know it feels like your life is ruined, but don’t let it bring you down. We’ll figure something out.”

Kim caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror hanging over the battered, old dresser. She was barely past thirty and could still turn heads. Last weekend she went to the dive bar down the road and didn’t have to pay for a drink all night. Two construction workers were competing for her attention by buying her margaritas. “Sweetie. I raised you. I can help you with the baby.” She had hoped that Crystal would move out after graduating from high school in a few years. Then she could start her life over while she still had a chance to hook a decent guy. “Or you could put it up for adoption. Give the baby a chance to live somewhere other than this trailer park.”

Crystal hadn’t moved an inch. Kim patted her on the back again. “Please come and talk to me when you’re ready.” She walked out of the room. Underneath the bed a dark pool was forming as blood seeped from Crystal’s wrists, saturated the mattress and dripped onto the rug.

© 2012 Janel Gradowski