Trigger warning: suicide
“Mom will be fine, El.”
“No, she won’t! She’s all alone and being alone is very sad.”
“I understand your point El, but she likes it alone.”
“Don’t be a doofus Melinda, no one likes it alone.”
“No buts. We are going to stay with Mommy tonight.”
“Daddy, we’re going to sleep next to Mommy tonight.”
Dad opens his third bottle of whiskey, not really deciphering El’s words.
He just grunts, and that is enough for El, who pulls my hand and drags me towards the door.
I strain against the weight of the sleeping bags, but El doesn’t notice.
We walk to the cemetery, her constant jumping giving me a headache.
The leaves rustle beneath our feet, seeming louder than usual in the dead silence of the night.
I don’t want to be here.
It’s been a week since Mom was buried, and El doesn’t get it yet.
She still believes that Mom is just sleeping there for a while, in a coffin under the ground.
I tried to explain it to her, but she wouldn’t listen.
If only El knew what Mom had done.
The only person to blame for El’s delusion was Mom herself.
She didn’t think once about her children before cutting her wrists and bleeding to death.
But El still thought about her.
But Mom is dead to me now.
Literally and figuratively.
Marisa Silveira, loving mother and wife.
You will be greatly missed.
‘Angels go back home one day.’
I glare at the headstone, willing for it to break and my mother to come back.
But it doesn’t happen.
El goes to the headstone and hugs it gently.
“Hi Mommy, did you miss me? I sure did miss you these past few days. I told Melinda that you were feeling lonely, but she didn’t listen to me. We’re going to stay here tonight with you Mommy. Don’t worry, we won’t disturb your sleep.”
As she continues to talk to the headstone, I furiously wipe off the tears that had somehow started flowing from my eyes without my permission.
Mom was evil.
She was cruel and unloving.
She never cared about anyone but herself.
And she doesn’t deserve this love from El.
She doesn’t deserve anything.
I lay out the sleeping bags next to each other, the pink one on the left for El and the purple one on the right for me.
The pink one is dragged closer to the headstone on El’s request.
I don’t protest.
Let her live in her perfect reality for a bit longer.
Let her love her perfect image of Mom for some more time.
But I have to live with the image of her, pale and cold, lying in a pool of her own blood.
I have to live with the image of seeing Dad cry for the same time.
Ignorance is bliss indeed.
El falls asleep immediately.
How can I?
I’m sleeping next to my dead mother who took her own life.
There would be something seriously wrong with me if I didn’t see her ghost in my mind’s eye.
She’s pushing El’s stroller, snow is falling on us, her cheeks are pink, she’s laughing, and the laughter echoes even after the memory has faded.
She’s crying in the corner, hugging her knees, quickly wiping her tears as I enter.
She’s screaming at Dad, her pitch going higher with every word.
She’s lying on the floor in her favourite white dress, and her eyes are open. She’s looking at me accusingly, asking me why I let her white dress become red.
I sit up, ignoring the rush of blood into my head and the resulting dizziness.
I can’t do this.
It’s too hard.
I nudge El, trying to wake her up.
She doesn’t move.
I lean over, and whisper in her ear, “I’m leaving. You give Mom company.”
Her eyes open, and before she can scream at me, I shush her.
“What do you mean you’re leaving? Mommy’s lonely, she needs us.”
“No, El, she doesn’t need me. You’ll be enough company for her.”
Before she can protest, I pick up my sleeping bag and walk towards the entrance.
I look back at El.
She’s already fast asleep.
“Rielle, I don’t know what to do. I miss her so much. I should have been more careful.”
Rielle is sleeping next to Mom.
Who is this other Rielle?
“It’s all my fault, she left because of me. My kids don’t have a mother because of me.”
Dad is walking around the cemetery, not really having a sense of direction.
His words are slurry, and he looks a few years older than he is.
“Why don’t you understand Rielle? I loved her. I loved her so much. No, I love you too. But she is the mother of my daughters. She was my high school sweetheart. My everything. I betrayed her. I’m a terrible husband and an even more terrible father.”
Dad cheated on Mom.
That’s why she committed suicide.
I’m debating on whether Dad will notice if I sneak behind him and strangle him to death.
He killed Mom.
I thought the worst of Mom because of him.
He’s the reason why El is sleeping in a graveyard on a cold winter night.
He’s the reason why I can’t even close my eyes anymore.
He’s the reason my mother is dead.
So, he deserves to die too.
I don’t think I should kill Dad.
El would never forgive me.
Honestly, I wouldn’t forgive myself.
And neither would Mom’s spirit.
So, I’m going to talk to him.
I come out from my hiding place behind a tree.
He turns around, and his eyes widen.
“Mel – Melinda? What are you doing here?”
“I told you, me and El are spending the night here. Oh, but wait, you were too drunk at that point of time. Or you were thinking about Rielle.”
He laughs it off, trying to hide his fear.
“I always think of you and Rielle, you are my children.”
“I’m not talking about El, I’m talking about the woman you cheated on Mom with.”
He mutters a quick ‘I’ll talk to you later’ to Rielle and cuts the call.
“Look, Melinda, I can explain.”
“I can explain better. You cheated on Mom behind her back and she found out. Then she killed herself. And now, even though you regret her death, you’re still seeing that woman.”
“Did you think that Mom was so dumb? Did you honestly think that she would never find out?”
“I loved both of them, really, I did. When your sister was born, Rielle decided to break it off with me. So, I named her Rielle too, because I missed her.”
I laugh bitterly, unable to make sense of this man who called himself my father.
“Please give me a chance to explain, Melinda.”
I don’t want to give him a chance.
He had his chance, and he blew it.
But he would never be so open and emotional if he weren’t drunk.
This is the only time I’ll get the truth out of him.
So, I let him talk.
“Marisa found out about my affair with Rielle and threw a fit. I stormed out in anger and went to the nearest bar. Rielle was there. I just remember waking up on her bed the next morning.”
I think I should strangle him.
He’s smiling, thinking of that woman.
I could wipe that smirk right off his face, but I stop myself.
Only for El.
“I continued to see Rielle in secret. Marisa was bound to find out. The next thing I know, I get a phone call at work from you saying that she killed herself.”
Maybe I should strangle him.
No one would know.
Except for me.
But that’s irrelevant.
“Melinda, what are you doing? Oh, hi Dad.”
Dad smiles at El, while I glare at him.
“El, I think it’s time for us to get back home.”
It’s my eighteenth birthday today.
I have been discreetly packing up for the past few weeks, both mine and El’s belongings.
Now it’s time.
I’ve waited for two years, and this day has finally arrived.
The day I take my ten-year-old sister and leave the house.
With no legal repercussions.
Over the past couple of years, El understood that Mom wasn’t sleeping, she was dead.
And she was never coming back.
She developed the same feelings towards Dad as I did: pure hatred.
When I told El that we were leaving, she didn’t even hesitate before agreeing.
As we take our bags out, Dad and Rielle come out from their bedroom, barely dressed.
Before they start to protest, I explain the situation.
“We are leaving. I know you both are happy that we’re finally out of your hair, but please wait for us to leave before you throw a party.”
“I and Melinda have been tolerating you both for a long time now, and now Melinda is finally an adult. So, you can’t stop us from leaving.”
Dad nods, tearing up.
I expected more resistance from him.
But he has understood that this is the only solution.
We open the door and start towards my car.
I look back to the house one last time.
Now, we’re going to make our own life.