A.N.~This chapter is longer than most of the previos one, but I swear it has a better ending. Enjoy!~
“Hey, do you ever not sleep?”
I groaned inwardly before peeking out from under the blankets, “I dunno.” I rolled my eyes and ducked back under. I’d been recovering in a domestic violence shelter, and they had put me up in an apartment with a roommate, Stella. The covers were yanked off of my bed, and I shivered in the cold air, “Come on, it’s 7 in the morning, let me sleep.”
She flopped onto my bed, “Listen, you’ve been here three weeks and I’ve only ever seen you out of bed like four times. The only one you hurt when you wallow is yourself.”
I sat up in bed before looking her dead in the eyes, “Don’t pretend you know me, okay,” I lifted up my shirt and showed her my still-healing scar, “I’ve been through hell. My boyfriend shot me and killed our unborn baby in the process, while getting himself shot by the police. I have nobody, okay?” I was crying now, the sobs leaving me unable to speak. Stella stood up abruptly and I heard her bustling around in the kitchen.
The smell of something sweet tingled my nose, until she poked her head back in the door, “C’mon, I made us some comfort waffles. You need to eat sometime.”
Begrudgingly, I made my way into the kitchen and sat at our table. The first bite into my waffles reminded just how long it had been since I had eaten a “meal”. I stared down at my plate before apologizing, “Uh, I’m sorry if I was rude. It’s been a rough month.”
Stella put her hand on my arm, “Don’t apologize. I’m sorry if I was too pushy, I was a lot like you when I first got here. I just care aggressively, at least that’s what my therapist says. I have been here almost 9 months, and I promise you, it does get better.” I smiled until I realized I was crying again, before I whispered my thanks. Stella stood up abruptly, “Well, I gotta get to work. Maybe try getting outside today? Fresh air makes all the difference, when I get back we can binge watch some Simflix and eat all the chocolate we can.” I nodded and as fast as she talked, she was gone.
I decided to take her advice and I tentatively headed to the park. I brought one of the books I had bought to read to Christopher, and clutched it close to my heart. The sun was shining bright, and I sat down on a bench, hoping no one noticed the still-healing bruises on my face. The sound of someone sitting next to me, made me pause in my reading, but before I say anything, or even look up, the stench of cheap booze filled my nose. I looked up to meet the steely gaze of my mother, my very drunk mother.
She leaned into me, “You’re not as fat as I thought you’d be. That must mean you’ve had the baby.”
I shook my head, “Ma, I’m not discussing this with you.”
She plowed right through, ignoring my statement, “So, do I have a granddaughter or a grandson?”
I sighed, “None of your business.”
She scoffed before standing up and swaying, “Fine. You obviously don’t want me here, Lauryn. I guess I’ll go elsewhere.”
I thought of all the horrible things that my mother had done to me and to herself, I nearly hated her for them, but I still could not, in any good conscience, leave her to find her way home. I pulled her arm until she sat down next to me, “Ma, let me take you home. How did you get here?”
My mom laughed, “Don’t be silly, you surely have to get home to your baby and his or her father. Don’t worry about me, I drove.”
I stood up, pulling her along, “You’re in condition to drive home , Ma. I’ll take you. She huffed about it all the way to the car.
Once inside the car, she began pestering me with more and more painful questions, so I finally interrupted her, “Y’know, Ma, you keep asking me about the father of my baby but in all of my 19 years you have not even mentioned my father. Not once. I think I’ve waited long enough.”
She leaned her head on the car window, “Surely, I’ve said something.”
I shook my head, “Not a peep.”
I had made a point of asking her when I was younger, but she always shut me down. I hoped maybe the alcohol in her might make her forget those walls. She looked at me with sad eyes, “I loved your father very much. He was a charmer. His big blue eyes crinkled when he laughed.”
It was hard for me to keep my eyes on the road as she described him. She burst into sobs and I pulled the car over, “Ma, what’s wrong?”
She looked at me and pulled at me for a hug. I tried not to stiffen, but she began to talk, “Oh, Lauryn, I’ve done something so very, very bad. Something awful. I can’t tell you.”
I couldn’t tell if this was the alcohol talking or if she was seriously upset, “It’s okay you can tell me.”
She nodded soberly, “Okay, but you can’t be upset,” she waited for me to nod before going on, “When I was sixteen, I fell in love with the star quarterback of the football team. Cliche, I know, but it was true. He didn’t notice me until a year after he graduated. We had one night of passion, and I ended up pregnant.”
My mother bit her lip, “No, I was pregnant with your sister, but I miscarried in my 5th month.” My eyes grew wide, but I remained silent as she continued, “Anyways, I never told him about the pregnancy or the miscarriage, but I kept track of him as he moved on from college to his career. In fact, I ended up working for him and his wife as their housekeeper.” I stared at her, trying to reconcile what she was saying to the woman I had grown up with. I started to say something but she waved me off, “Let me finish, your father never so much as looked at me after our one shared night, but when he and his wife brought home their perfect baby girl, I was so jealous. I still loved him, and in my mind he was mine. I know this sounds crazy, but it’s how I felt at the time, okay? I was given the care of their child while they went on with work and such,” She broke down into tears again, “One day, I realized that I might possibly love this child more than her own mother. She was so perfect, and tiny. She smiled whenever I entered the room, and cried when I left at the end of the day.”
I nodded, trying get her to the point, “So after I came to that realization, the next day, I waited until they left for work and……I took that little girl home with me, and we ran away together. I changed hers and my name. Her name was/is Lauryn.” She dropped that little bomb into my lap while I stared at her, my eyes widening by the second.
Finally my brain managed to put together a whole sentence, “You mean to tell me that my mom is not my mom, but just some crazy woman who thought I was her daughter? Wait a minute….wait…a….minute….” She opened her mouth but I whisper yelled, “What’s his name?” My mom look confused, so I chose to scream, “What is my father’s name!”
She looked down at the floor, “His name is Walter Quinn.”
I laid my head on the steering wheel, “Get……out.”
She looked out the window, “But we’re on the highway, and you’re driving my car.”
I turned and yelled at her, “I don’t care! I’ve taken so much crap from you because I thought it was my fault that you didn’t love, or because it was something that I did. You treated me like I was the problem. Every time you came home drunk, every time you brought home a new man, every time you slapped me, or called me an ungrateful whore, I still loved you, because I thought I was your daughter and that it was my job to care for you, but i was wrong, okay? I have been caring for someone who has been trying to drink away her regrets, but now, I’m done. If you weren’t drunk I’d be the one to leave, but I don’t want yo to kill anyone by drunk driving, so please……..get out. When you’ve sobered up, call me, and I’ll bring the car back.”
After she stumbled out of the car, I sped off, making it home before bursting into tears. My heart ached for someone to talk to. I crawled into bed, back where I started this morning. The sun hurt my eyes when it came through the window. Stella had left some pancakes on the counter for me, but I was in no mood for eating. I got dressed before walking down the street to the library. The computer was open, so I made a beeline for it. I didn’t even know where to begin, so I pulled up my mother’s, excuse me, Maria’s, high school alumni page. I scrolled through it until I found the right yearbook. Smack dab on the cover was the quarterback, my father. I clicked on his picture, and it led me directly to his profile. I wrote down the current address and was out the door in seconds.
Several hours later, one long cab ride, one short ferry ride, and one stop on the bus, I stood on his street. I took a deep breath and forced my feet to walk forward. His house was at the end of the street, and as I neared, I could make out two figures on the lawn. It was him, and his son playing catch. I have a brother! Once within walking distance, I cleared my throat, trying to get his attention. He turned to me and I approached, “Um, hi, are you Walter Quinn?” He nodded his head, searching me for some sign of recognition, “I am. How can I help you?” I shrugged my shoulders, “Well, this is going to sound weird, but I think I’m your daughter….” A wide grin split his face before he motioned to his son, “Ethan, go get your mom!” The blonde teenager shot into the house as I found myself being wrapped p into a hug, “Oh Sabrina, we knew you would come back to us.”
Before I could correct him on my name, an older carbon copy of me stepped out the front door. Once we made I contact, she dropped the mug in her hand and rushed toward me. I was pulled into her arms as she began sobbing. I was crying too, not sure how I had made it here. I had gone from being all alone in the world, to suddenly having these stranger become my family. I clutched my mom tighter, sending us both into a fit of tears again. Somehow, everything was going to turn out all right.