The Aid of Others

Submitted into Contest #48 in response to: Write about someone who always comes to the aid of others.... view prompt

1 comment


He moans and moans. I sit there. I rub his back. Under his shirt. I rub it under his shirt. The skin feels terrible. 

This happens when he tries to stop. He aches, and shakes and sweats, too, and sometimes he sees things, even. I wonder if he stops seeing things, if he stops seeing me, he must, I figure. I figure, in order to see something, you have to stop seeing something else, don’t you? That’s what they call zero-sum. There’s seen, unseen, a winner, loser.

Now and then I leave the room just to check, when the feeling gets big enough, the feeling he doesn’t see me. He goes on moaning until he notices, he always notices at some point, and then he yells for me real loud, like he’s dying, and I come right back. 

When it ends, he says sorry. He asks me how I put up with it. Why don’t I just leave.

I don’t have the answer. Everything is the answer. I love him, I tell him. That is the answer. Of course, it bothers me sometimes, but I don’t say. I suppose every so often I do, if I get angry enough, and things grow tall enough in me and open my mouth. But he can’t take it, and I know that, so I usually don’t say, usually never let anything shoot out, since you can’t take things back after that, and then you become different in people’s eyes, and you can’t take that back, either, to where it was. 

He doesn’t know, but I did the same for my mother when I was young, and she was sick, and she was sick. I wouldn’t go to school some days, at least five in a month. At one point, father didn’t want anything to do with it anymore. He ripped his hand away one day and drove off, right in the middle of it all. After that, I went to school even less. 

My mother’s situation was different a bit. She would get sick from too much. He gets sick from stopping. But, it’s the same sick. 

She hated my father for leaving. That’s not love. On the toilet, she would curse him, in her spit, and she would spit and spit, until it would all come out, and I told her it was like purgation, it was a good thing. 

That’s when knots started growing in my hair like on a tree; they took me hours to comb, and I would smell, too, when I went to school, smell strong, like outside, like a punch is, and no one would sit with me, but that’s alright. 

Sometimes… she didn’t need me sometimes. If you need one thing, you don’t need another, right? That’s right. Same with seeing. 

So, I would do the thing with her. I would go away. Not like my father, it wasn’t really leaving. I won’t call it leaving. But, I would get tired, maybe sometimes I was mad, and I knew it was wrong, but what could I do, so I would make myself scarce, and, if she needed me, she would beg me back. 

I would hide in my room mostly. Once in a while, I would stay at my friend’s. This friend, though, I’m not sure why I knew her. She didn’t understand me at all, she even said so.

“What don’t you understand?”

“Why you’d ever go back.”

I shrugged. 

“She’s so lucky to have you. If that were my mom…”

She didn’t have to say. I know what she would have done if that were her mom. She would have left. She didn’t appreciate much of anything.

“One day she won’t need me again,” I said.

But she always needed me again, and, even if she didn’t, I would go back. Something would drive me back. 

Maybe I couldn’t be the next name she would spit out. Let that be someone else, it wouldn’t be me. 

There eventually was someone else. His name was Joe like my dad’s name, Bob. Quick, in and out, goes well in a hoick. I figured he would leave, too, and he did once in a while, and he promised never to come back every time, but he kept coming back, and one time he stayed for good.

That was the same year she told me she was better. 

I'd heard that before.

You need to be careful, I told her. 

But, she was sure, she said, sure as sure. Those days weren’t coming back, she said. We can be better now. We can be better, like we wanted back then. 

It made me angry. I’m not sure why, since so many times things were awful and I thought life was hideous, and I imagined how I’d like it to be instead, and that made me angry.

I didn’t talk to her for months.

That’s when I met him. We rented an apartment together two weeks later. I woke him up every morning for work, I made him breakfast, I filled his car with gas when he forgot. 

One day, he stopped going to work. The car sat parked with a full tank.  

I kept quiet about it. I could tell he was upset, anyway, so what was helpful fighting.

“You’ll get back to it,” I’d say. I would rub his back. Just how I rub it when he’s sick. It didn't get much better, though, but then, that's not the right thing to say, it would always get him up. It didn't get much different. I'd rather say that.

Sure, sometimes I get upset. Sometimes nurses get tired, but they still need to help people.

We’re all human, I tell my friend. 

We're in a cafe.

“No,” she says, “you need to start taking care of yourself.”

She runs fingers through her hair. 

Some people are selfish.

I’m not sure why I keep up with being her friend. She doesn’t understand me, like I said she said, and she doesn’t know much about me, and there wasn’t anything about her I liked, really. 

“One day you’ll wake up surprised.” 

I tell her that’s not how things go. 

“So," I said, and she readjusted in her seat, “what have you been needing to tell me.”

July 02, 2020 17:41

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

1 comment

Leya Newi
21:16 Jul 09, 2020

Wow. I was little confused about what was going on, but something about this story just drew me in. I absolutely loved it, keep writing please!


Show 0 replies