The door banged shut behind me, but did nothing to muffle the acrid words my mother directed my way. Things had only been getting worse lately, ever since Dad was called up on active duty. She said she had stopped, that she could control it, but then she started drinking. It was ‘just one glass’ of wine, then two and three… I lost count. She lost count.
I got home late tonight, after going to the theater with a friend. It’s a long walk back home, down First Avenue and over the barren overpass. Cars whizzed by as I dodged traffic to try to get home on time, but no matter – as I swung open the door I could already smell the cheap white wine, the half-empty bottle perched precariously on the kitchen counter. I noticed my mother’s flushed face, as if she was ready to pick a fight.
Tonight, however, I couldn’t take her distraught, drunken rants. I knew she was frantic, desperate for me to stay with her, but it was just too much for tonight. Dropping off my backpack, I skipped back out. Just up the street, a couple blocks to the north, was my favorite place, where the scraggly limbs of the trees arched overhead and the traffic drowned out my thoughts. I could get lost here, and I did. Frequently.
Sometimes I stayed until the sun set, and watched the moon rise over the hills, while the lights would come on, a million tiny flashes of brilliant light, without a sound. The cars hummed by, and I closed my eyes to rest.