~Written by Ify, my brother~
It all started last year on a quiet, gray September afternoon. I was walking home from school with my sister Olivia and her friend Marcella. I could hear nothing else but the chirping of the birds, the sounds of cars whizzing by on the street and the sound of Olivia and Marcella giggling to one another as they swapped secrets. I wished that Cici were here so that I could have someone to talk with,but after school she has to go and help at her uncle Reynaldo’s bodega,so I usually end up walking home by myself with Olivia or with her and one of her friends.It’s really boring actually having no one else to talk to and having to wait for your sister to bring her home from school all on your own.It’s as if all time stands still and it never seems to end. That was what it felt like.Like one giant endless loop.That is until I saw a police car parked in front of Aunt Luna and Uncle Zane’s house.I said goodbye to Marcella,grabbed Olivia by her arm and raced inside the house as fast as I could….and that’s when I saw her.There she was. My mom…the bank robber,the junkie,the crack addict,the assaulter.As soon as I closed the door,she turned around and saw me.Her face was solemn and gray, with little hollow cheekbones and her eyes,once bright and blue were now dim.Her hair,once pretty and long and golden-yellow was now shortened to a platinum blonde pixie cut,tangled and dirty,wearing a cream-colored sweater,Levi Jeans and black patent leather shoes. “Hello…Penelope” I heard her say in a whisper “It’s so good to see you again sweetie pie”Olivia wriggled out of my grasp and ran towards her shouting “Mommy,Mommy,you’re home” like she was five years old.
“Hi,Olivia” Mom said in a raspy,haggard voice “How’s my little cupcake ?” I saw her standing there swooping my little sister off the ground and twirling her like a whirligig,like she was our mother, a mother who should’ve been there for me,for Olivia… for all of us.But instead she had been locked up inside the county jail for twenty-three years for assaulting a police officer after attempting to rob a bank three years ago while getting drunk. I wanted to yell at her,to scream and hit her.I wanted to ask her why she assaulted a police officer and why she became such a crackhead after Dad left us.I wanted to say that I hated her and that she shouldn’t have come here to see us.I wanted to cry and run upstairs to my room.But I didn’t.I looked my mother in the eyes with a fake plastic smile on my face and asked her. “What’re you doing here ?” She replied solemnly “ Penelope,I came here to visit you. My parole officer gave me a visitor’s pass to come and I wanted to see..how my babies…are getting along..without their mama. Now she had tears streaming down her face and she began to blubber inconsolably. I could tell Mom was interested in how we were doing and not just because she was somewhat having a mental breakdown. So I told her the truth. “Roxanne is crazy.S he cut her hair, dyed it blue,wears black all the time, became anorexic and she paints disturbing portrayals of men beating women,women crying on the floor and women being raped by Satan. Zane is upstairs in his room looking at porn magazines and Sapphire,Tulio and Reuben are living with Aunt Lilly at her place in Oregon. After you were arrested,the court decided it would be best separate us from each other” And that was the cold,hard truth. A few seconds later,Mom stopped smiling and she set down Olivia and came towards me,her eyes now full of anguish. “Penelope…sweetie.Are you telling me that since I became…incarcerated that you’ve been separated from the rest of your siblings all this time?And I didn’t even know it? ” I simply nodded and as I backed away slowly,I grabbed Olivia’s arm and rushed up the stairwell all the while she was screaming “Mommy,Mommy.I want Mommy !” In about two minutes, Mom went ballistic,her eyes clouded, her screams piercing the eerie silence of the house as she ran around the living room running like a madwoman, breaking vases, tearing down photos and smashing them,ripped out the stuffing out of Aunt Luna’s new couch screaming “Where are my babies ? What have you done to my babies ?” while a policeman was behind her running and screeching “Louise!,Louise !” trying to stun her with a taser. She looked at us,on the stairs looking at her,like she was a monster. She began her descent up the stairs,towards Olivia and me,while Aunt Luna screamed “Louise,come down from there.You’re scaring the girls!”and she was right.All the color drained out of my face as she lumbered towards us,a sick,twisted grin on her face,like she was drunk . Olivia,now scared,hung close to me and asked “Penny,what’s wrong with Mommy ?” I screamed for Aunt Luna,for Uncle Zane,for anybody to come and take this…monster away and give us back our mom. But I knew it was useless. By the way she screamed and ranted,destroyed the living room and looked at us all like little morsels,I knew I had lost her,possibly forever. It took about 10 minutes to rip her from the stairs,wrangle her,pin her down and then stun her.It took another three minutes to drag her by her legs to the squad car,cause she was so heavy,where they tossed her into the back like a rag doll. The police officer, obviously embarrassed by what had now happened said he was sorry and drove off,without so much as a goodbye. That was the last time I ever saw my mother,my real mother…ever again.