A Rock and a hard place ( A fiction based on a true story

Submitted into Contest #127 in response to: Write a story about a problem with no good solutions.... view prompt

2 comments

Contemporary Drama Sad

This story contains sensitive content

<CW- gas lighting/ dysfunctional family Dynamics/ adult language


Gas·light

verb

manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.



The day before New year’s eve


Macy Tomson tied her long, curly fire red locks into a high ponytail. Then glanced up at the digital clock on the stark white wall of her minimalistic yet cozy little one-bedroom apartment. Sitting there on her queen sized mattress, the gray color of her bedsheets seeming to illustrate her mood, she watched the minutes tick by. When 2 o’clock turned to three, she started to lose hope. 


“She’s not coming.” Macy spoke the words out loud, grateful that no one was around to hear the pathetic and dejected tone in her voice. 


Then a familiar sensation shivered through her body, distracting her. Being afflicted with a some-what mild form of physical disability from birth and raised in a highly dysfunctional environment, pain in varying degrees was just a fact of Macy’s life. Most days she could tough it out, but this was one of those rare days that the persistent burning ache of pain weighed on her entire being. 


Her face contorted, the freckles on her plump rosy cheeks disappearing in a deep frown, her eyebrows knitted, green eyes watering, She gritted her teeth and blinked furiously, refusing to let the tears fall. 


“Suck it up, buttercup!” “You knew this would happen.” “This is on you!” Macy thought back to a few days ago. 


She had almost not gone to her older sister brianna’s place for Christmas because of the awful way she’d been treated and let down in recent months by both her sister Bri and mother Nina. In the past, the three of them had always been close, always there for one another. Macy never would’ve thought they’d ever abandon her. So when it first happened their betrayal shocked and gutted her!  


That day Macy had been trying to mop her bedroom floor, only to trip and land with a painful ‘thud’ on the hardwood ground below. She tried turning over on her knees to pull up with no luck. 


“Damn!” She let out a frustrated growl! taking a minute to self evaluate. Macy didn’t think anything was broken. 


She wouldn’t have to call 911. 


"Good, thank god for that at least." She sighed. “I really can not afford another hospital bill!"


She spoke the words out loud to the empty room with a “well fuck, what do I do now?” chuckle. After a couple of tries, Macy quickly realized she was stuck! She knew she needed help. Now, though, a new problem. During the fall, her phone slid out of her reach from where she landed, now sat up, back against the edge of the bed.  


Macy tried stretching out to a painful level to reach it, to no avail. Scanning around, she realized there was nothing close by she could use to grab it. She was well and truly screwed! eyes widened, her racing heart pounded hard against her ribcage. Her breathing, keeping time with the rapid thumping in her chest, came out in shallow huffs. 


Trying to calm herself, she spoke out loud again. "Don’t panic, okay, just think." 


Looking around the room once more, seeing her walker had fallen just within a fingertip’s reach, an idea struck. She stretched out again and pulled it towards her. Then she pushed her walker out in front of her.


Then She maneuvered one of its legs behind the phone and slid it closer. Painfully stiff and exhausted on the ground for forty minutes or more, but able to finally grab the phone. Macy felt a wave of relief as she video called her mother.


Macy: “hi, mom I’m not hurt but I need your help. I fell and I’m stuck!”


 Her mother let out a bothered huff. 


Nina: “Macy, I’m at work!” She rolled her eyes. “I can’t do nothin for ya.”


Macy: “Yeah, I know mom, but I was hoping maybe on your lunch break since you’re like four minutes away yo.. “


Her mother cut her off mid-sentence.


Nina: “Macy, you know I can’t lift you.” Nina smacked her lips together in exasperation. “Macy, you are four-hundred pounds and I am at work!”


The condescension and contempt in her mother’s tone hurt. She spoke in a small voice now.


Macy: “I don’t need you to lift me up. My hip is stuck again. I just need someone to help me turn. Macy blinked away tears. Please help me?”


 At Macy’s response, her mother yelled at her angrily.


Nina: “I AM NOT DRIVING OVER THERE FOR TWO MINUTES JUST TO DRIVE BACK! TURN YOUR SORRY ASS AROUND AND PULL UP! YOU...”


Macy couldn’t believe her mother’s words. She blinked back shocked and angry tears and hung up on the still screaming woman.


Macy’s next call to her sister went similarly without the yelling. Stuck on the floor for almost an hour Hurt, angry, and mortifyingly embarrassed, but with no other choice Macy dialed caregiver. Luckily, they were willing to come and help off the clock.


Her family’s second betrayal was less dangerous, but no less heartbreaking. Macy had been sick in bed. Her sister had again offered to bring her some soup but then never came, only to ask Macy to babysit the next day.


That day, she had decided it was best for her own mental health to cut contact with them.


Then, two days before Christmas, they’d both apologized. Hoping for change, Macy had mistakenly brought their false sincerity and spent the holiday at her sister’s place. 


She was too excited to spend quality time with the one’s she loved that the dread of physical pain didn’t register until the house came into view. When her sister parked the car inside the gate as close to the newly repaired stairs as possible, her gratitude and hope outshone the dread in the pit up her stomach. Thanks to a significant change in her diet and overall lifestyle, she breezed right up the stairs, only strengthening her optimism. From the second she crossed the threshold, however, the same familiar feeling hit like it had every time Macy visited since the day her grandma passed, leaving the house to her sister Bri.


The pain seeped deeper into her every joint, muscle, and bone, with every passing second. A boa constrictor like tightness riddled her entire body making every step forward feel much like she imagined the tricky tyrant king Sisyphus felt in the Greek myth of the same name, being forced to push that heavy boulder almost to the top of the steep hill only to see it roll down to the bottom again; painfully sore and excruciatingly exhausted. Unlike Sisyphus, who had been forced to continue, Macy chose to!


Determined to enjoy the time with loved ones, Macy focused her attention on her nieces and nephews. They made Christmas treats and sang Christmas carols. The smiles on their faces as they tasted their own concoctions made her glad she’d come. Then Macy’s stomach grumbled loudly, bringing her out of her thoughts. 


A day ago, when her sister Bri had called and offered to bring her favorite soup. Macy had been ecstatic not only for the food but also the thought. Macy had thought maybe, just maybe, her sister had heard her the third and final time she’d told both her sister and mother how their disregard of her and her feelings had made Macy feel insignificant and taken advantage of.


The first time she tried to talk to them about it. They both completely ignored her. The second time she tried to express how they were making her feel, 


her sister had Unapologetic replied “I’m sorry you feel that way.” 


That time, however, Macy had hope. She had even skipped meals that day to allow for the calories that her sister’s food would contain while still staying within the parameters of her diet.


Macy’s stomach growled again as if in protest, making her regret that decision. 


Now she was thankful she had contingencies. 


“It’s for the just in case scenario” Macy told her caregiver the previous day. “Of course they’ll come!” Her caregiver had smiled at her reassuringly, but Macy could see the pity in her eyes and she hated it.


 Still, Macy had hoped the woman was right. 


Now though, that hope quickly drangled to hurt, then to anger.


 “At least this time you were smart enough not to count on them!” The bitterness of the thought literally left a horrible taste in her mouth and broke her heart a little more. 




Some time later, Macy sat on the edge of the bed, frozen in shock. She stared at the phone in her hand like it was a dangerous foreign mass. Her mind whirled and her thoughts raced 


“Wow, what just happened? How am I wrong? Am I really being selfish? Am I going crazy? Is she right?”


Macy raked her fingers through her hair in confused frustration. Her eyes welled with tears once again, but this time she let them fall, sobbing freely.


Trying to distract herself, Macy turned on the stereo system On the tv stand in the front of the room. A feminine, sultry voice flowed through the speakers. 


“you’re listening to k44.5, your station for smooth listening. It’s 12:00am, and it’s officially new year’s eve folks. You’re on with Kelly Keller and we’re talking about relationships. Now I know the holidays can be hard on all kinds of relationships. So call me up and tell me your problems (555) - 444 - 4454 let’s talk.”


Macy dialed the number before she knew what she was doing. A couple of rings later, she was about to hang up when she heard a familiar voice through the phone. 


 “You’re on the air with kelly Kellerrrrr.” the last words echo loudly reverberated through the phone and the radio hurting Macy’s ears. She quickly turned off the radio.


 Then she hard the woman on the phone speak." What's your name, hon, and where you calling from?" 


Macy bit her lip nervously, considering. She stuttered out a response, “Well hi Kelly..umm my name is...is..Casy." 


Unlike herself, Kelly Keller was all confidence. “Well, nice to meet you, Casy. Where are you calling from?” 


Macy bit her lip again. “Nice to meet you, Kelly and uuhh… i’d rather not say.” 


Macy was relieved to hear no annoyance in the other woman’s tone as a she spoke. "Ooh, a woman of mystery. I like it! Well, then Casy, what can I do for ya this beautiful early New year’s eve?"


 Macy took a deep breath and began. Well, see, I’m stuck in a situation with my loved ones and I need a way forward. 


Kelly Keller’s voice went curiously sympathetic. “Go on?” 


Macy rushed on before she lost her nerve. 


Well, you see, I’m physically disabled and I have state funded caregivers and recently I lost them." 


Macy rushed on again, not wanting to be interrupted." 


Now I got them back, thank god! Though losing them made me realize how much I depend on them and how screwed I would be without them."


Macy took another deep breath, waiting. “That’s completely understandable.” 


Macy could almost hear the radio host’s head nod when she spoke. Macy didn’t want to say her next words out loud, but she had to be honest. If she wasn’t, what was the point? She pressed on.  


"Yeah and see before, I wouldn’t have been concerned because the three of us, my mom, sister, and me, have always been there for each other. Here lately, however, it’s like they both got together and decided I no longer matter unless they need something."


Macy hated how pathetic and sad she sounded. Thankfully, however, Kelly Keller’s tone didn’t hold pity, only understanding." "What do you mean, hon?" 


Macy took a longer, deeper breath this time and told the world her story. However, as she talked, she couldn’t help but to replay her recent conversation with her sister Bri in her head.


Macy had been so disappointed and let down by her family. So when her sister messaged her, she decided this time she was going to stand up for herself!


Bri: “kid, I’m so sorry about your dinner. I got so busy and so II asked to drop it off. She just told me she didn’t bring it.”


Macy: “It’s okay I knew this would happen, so I planned ahead, I’m just pissed because I again had to tell my staff that no, you guys aren’t reliable, it’s just hella embarrassing to have to do and if I know Mom she whining the boho because I don’t let her get away with this shit and you know what for once I don’t f**king care! it’s about consideration!"


Bri: “I know it’s hard to see the other side, kid. I have gotten any soup either. I’ve been so busy doing this and that and they other thing and mom has been helping me.”


 Macy wanted to scream!




Macy: “yeah, even if you haven’t had any of it, I can guarantee you’ve both had dinner! If I had counted y’all I wouldn’t have!”


Bri: “I went and spent $200 on that food and I haven’t had a bit either. I love you so much, so please don’t be mad at me, kid. I tried my best.”


Macy was all too familiar with her sister’s guilt trips, but this time, she wasn’t backing down.


 Macy: “the worst thing is it’s f**king embarrassing to have to tell my staff that they can’t count on what you say and bet against you guys!”


Bri: “Well, if we’re so unreliable, they should know our track record by now.”




 Bri: “I don’t know why you had to explain anything to these people or why you couldn’t just order food! Why you have to make me out to be some kind of monster I’m f**king not!”


Bri: “By the way, thank you for that! That makes me feel really uncomfortable walking into your house. You know what that makes me want to do? Yeah, that makes me want to just come right over.”


Bri: “you know the truth of the matter. I don’t even have enough time to take a bath! So if you can maybe figure out a way to clone me, that would be great!”


“Now, don’t get me wrong Kelly I do recognize that with kids, home, and work here my sister’s point was valid,” 


Macy paused waiting for Kelly Keller’s response, but when none came she continued 


However, my mom and sister both had a chronic habit of juggling way too many plates in the air but recently when they inevitably drop them I’m the one that gets hit on the head!”


 Macy was thankful for the host’s next words. “I see where you’re coming from. Please go on?”


Macy drifted back to the previous conversation as she continued her story.


Macy: “I don’t like it either! If I let people rely on you guys, I’m the one that gets screwed! So, I have to tell the truth!”


Bri: “you’re saying your truth. You’re saying it from your perspective. It’s not the truth!”


Bri: “you’re a hell of a mother f**ker to be talkin about consideration.”


Bri: “I hope you enjoy the stress you’re bringing on me! How dare you be so selfish! You’re killing our relationship! Why no one wants to be around you!”


Bri: you know, for someone talking about being inconsiderate, you really just being selfish here!


Macy: “We all have our things, sister. Life is difficult for everyone. I’m there for you whenever you need me. I help out wherever I can. I just think I deserve the same.”


Bri “how do you help?”


Bri: “How have you taken one actual step to help either me or Mom?” 


Bri: “And you won’t have to feel like you have there for me! Because I’ll never ask you for another favor as long as I live!”


Macy finished her story, blinking back sobs as she said her sister’s hurtful words. On the other end of the phone line, Kelly Keller let out a hello high pitch whistle. 


“That’s a tough one!” Macy let out a humorless laugh. 


Yeah, so I’m like, How am I wrong? Am I really being selfish? Am I going crazy? Is she right?” 


When Kelly Keller spoke, the passion and emphatic tone in her words made Macy feel good. 


Well, first of all, no! You’re not crazy! “Macy heard the other woman blow out a breath. “ now I’m not a doctor, but Casy, do you know what a gas lighter is? 


Macy was honest. “Not really no.” 


When the other woman explained, it was like someone switched on a light bulb! Macy thanked the radio host for her help and ended the call. Then she broke down in uncontrollable sobs. It was great that she knew the first time she wasn’t at fault for any of it. 


But, really, what does that matter?” Macy spoke out loud to the empty room through hot tears. “I’m still stuck between a rock and a hard place! I can either continue to let them treat me this way and have them be occasionally there to help me or I can cut contact and lose not just help but my mom and sister in one shot! I would be completely alone!” 


There really was no good solutions for her! 

January 08, 2022 01:43

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

2 comments

VJ Hamilton
01:02 Jan 15, 2022

Thanks for your story, Linsey! It's a good picture of a dysfunctional family. I thought it was neat, how you brought in Kelly Keller, the radio show host.

Reply

Linsey Vega
23:10 Jan 16, 2022

Thanks!:)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.