I leave a note on the table for Carter, telling him that I would be back in a few hours, and there was food in the fridge if he was hungry.
Might as well be a good wife while I still was one.
I hope that today goes well.
I don’t want it to happen again.
Picking up my car keys and house keys, I leave the house and lock the door.
I slowly get into the car, taking care not to strain my right leg, and put on my seatbelt.
Slowly, I drive out of the garage, and onto the road.
Checking all my mirrors, and making sure that I’m following the speed limit, I stop at a red light.
I never adhere to road safety rules.
But ever since what happened, I need to.
I need to do it for him.
Because what happened to him was entirely because of me.
From the moment he was born, Neil was always more mine than Carter’s.
It was a universal truth which was accepted by everyone, even by Carter.
But this meant that it was more my fault than anyone else’s when what happened happened.
Neil was always fonder of me than his father, which seemed strange to everyone else but made perfect sense to me.
While Carter wanted to teach him how to ride a cycle and play baseball, Neil was happy making cookies and doing the crossword puzzle with me.
He was always there for me, as I was for him.
Until I let go.
Roger continues talking about the different types of substances.
Everyone takes down notes and asks questions.
“Chiara…Moseley, isn’t it?”
I look up, and Roger is gesturing at me to stand up.
“So Chiara, would you like to share your story with us?
Neil is standing next to Roger.
He smiles at me encouragingly.
The next second, he’s on the floor, bleeding through his favourite blue shirt, eyes wide open, looking straight at me.
Then it all goes black.
When I open my eyes, I first see Carter, sitting at the foot of the bed, looking bored and scrolling through something on his phone.
I move my hand towards him, and a sharp pain courses through my arm.
An IV drip is connected to my vein, and it slowly puts me back to sleep again.
I want to let Carter know that I’m awake, but I drift off before his name leaves my lips.
“…must get it checked.”
“…sorry for your loss.”
I pry my eyes open, the white light blinding me for a second.
The nurse and Carter are having a conversation.
I don’t need to be a genius to know exactly what they’re talking about.
The nurse turns to look at me, her expression one of sympathy, to see me staring right back at her, unblinking.
“Oh, Ms Chiara, you’re awake!”
“How are you feeling?”
As the nurse fusses over me, I look at Carter.
He doesn’t look very happy.
“Stop being such a drama queen and grow up Chiara!”
“What do you mean? I just lost my baby, and you want me to grow up!”
“You keep forgetting that Neil was my son too.”
“No, no. I think you’re the one who keeps forgetting that.”
“I miss him too, alright? But do you see me fainting every second? Do you see me screaming every place down? Do you see me having panic attacks every single moment?”
“That is not fair, not one bit.”
“Oh, it’s not fair to you huh? What about me? I can’t even begin to try and move on when I have to keep running to a hospital every time you have an episode. I have to comfort you and take care of you, and you can’t even be grateful about it!”
“Thank you, thank you so much, sweet hubby. Better? You signed up for this when you married me!”
“No, no I didn’t. I had no idea that I would be signing up to a life where my wife kills my son, and I have to be the one to act like it was no one’s fault, when it was clearly yours!”
I slap him.
“Yeah, hit me all you want. That won’t change the truth. He’s dead, because of you.”
“You know, if you hate me so much, why don’t you just leave?”
“Because I, unlike you, have a heart.”
He goes into his room and bangs the door.
I throw the vase across the room.
It does nothing but gives me an extra mess to clean.
I yell in frustration.
It wasn’t pretty when I drank too much.
One night, I came home at an unearthly time, having spent hours at the bar.
I had just had a terrible fight with Carter, and I’d gone to cool off.
The person who opened the door was Neil, and he was only thirteen at the time.
Still to this day, I don’t know how he caught me when I fainted.
When I woke up, I was sticky with sweat and alcohol, and Neil was at my bedside, holding an aspirin and a glass of water.
He didn’t ask me any questions and just took care of me.
I could tell that he didn’t approve of my drinking.
But he thought that I had just lost control that one night and that it wouldn’t happen again.
He was wrong.
It was time for my weekly checkup.
The doctor checked my right leg, which had broken a month ago, but was now healing satisfactorily.
But my heart wasn’t.
And it never would.
Carter didn’t come with me.
He expected me to make a scene and didn’t want to be witness to it.
The doctor prescribes some painkillers in case my leg acts up anytime, and I left.
As I limped towards the exit, I remember leaving this very hospital exactly a month ago.
I left the hospital, and he left me.
That day had been cloudy.
The sky was downcast, and everyone was waiting for it to rain.
It didn’t rain until the middle of the night.
Neil was in his senior year of high school.
I had to go to pick him up from a school dance.
He got in the car and started talking animatedly about the lights and singing and dancing.
I kept nodding, trying not to throw up.
The truth was that I wasn’t listening to a word.
I was drunk.
The truck came out of nowhere and rammed itself into the side of the car where Neil was sitting.
The car flipped, one time or many, I don’t know.
When it stopped, it was upside down.
As I finished emptying all the contents of my stomach, I felt blood run down my arm.
It wasn’t mine.
As I tried to wake up Neil, his head leaning on my shoulder, I knew that he wasn’t going to open his eyes ever again.
Soon, there were lights everywhere, and there were people cutting us out of our seatbelts.
As I was carried out of the car, it started raining.
Red water coated me.
I passed out in the ambulance.
It was my fault.
I killed Neil.
I’m a murderer.
And I can never do anything that will bring him back.