"Where am I?" I whispered into the mirror. I leaned in close, peering far beyond the surface of my eyes and into a dull grey void. I thought I remembered meeting myself here before, but that must have been a long time ago. For now, life was evident only in it's most rudimentary form; a heart that shook my body with every beat. "Where'd I go?" I estimated that I'd been drunk for maybe a week. I felt like I'd never been sober, which was nothing new, but something felt different this time around. Something that wanted to leap out at me from my reflection...
My mind started it's routine of worrying over the sheer volume and potentially fatal mix of chemicals I'd ingested- Jack Daniels, vodka, Budweiser, acid, and lots of methamphetamine-and wondering if it was this week or last that the cops had raided this place. Then my mind stopped caring about it, and I knew that this was what was so different; not a single cell in my whole damned body cared anymore. With nothing to worry about, I wondered briefly if I'd actually lost my soul.
I slumped against the tile wall, trying to work up a case of self-pitying tears, but they wouldn't come. I thought I'd slit my wrists with one of the blades up in the medicine cabinet, but I couldn't work up the energy or the determination to follow through, no matter how I tantalized myself with the idea. I really hate blood anyway. I lay on the bathroom floor and the smell told me that someone'd been puking here recently. "That would probably be me, " I mumbled, forever trying to make light of the grimmest circumstances. I couldn't force a laugh though.
I think it may have been Tony who found me shaking and mumbling on the bathroom floor. Tony was my first love, I was his, and we never really talked about it. I was (briefly) the photojournalist for our school paper, and I used nearly all of my freebie hall passes to call him out of class. I was 17, he was 16, and together we only deserved to be shot twice. I remember him helping me onto a couch. He didn't say much about my condition. "Dude, you're completely fucking fucked," I think it was.
We were partying at Steve and Jeff's house as usual. They lived right next door to Tony. It had started out at this house as mainly a weekend thing for me, but that was a couple years previous. By this time, I was drinking 3 days a week, had a near-to-raging meth habit, and on this particular occasion, I'd been binging for a solid week. Diane and Delbert, Steve and Jeff's parents, were too lazy and just plain stupid to care what we were up to for the most part. Every now and again they'd try to regain some semblence of control, but with a basement full of hopped-up strung-out wasted kids, there was only so much they could do. Especially since they didn't want the cops to show up any more than we did. Delbert broke my toe once by stomping on it with the heel of his boot, but even that only drove me away for a night.
One night, Diane was begging us to be quiet, begging us to stop drinking, begging us to flush the meth, and begging us to go home most of all. We ignored her as usual, turning the music up extra loud. She almost never came into the basement, but she came down that night screaming, "I can't take any more! You hear me you kids? I can't take any more and I mean it! I really do! No more of this bullshit!" She was shaking like a leaf and her breathing was fast and loud. I walked over to her, trying to calm her down, I guess, but she slapped at me, knocking her glasses off of her teary face. Without picking them up, she ran back up the stairs crying. "Well, go get huw! Stupid bitch is gonna wun into something!" Jeff was the seemingly oblivious owner of the worst speech impediment I'd ever seen on a 17 year old. It made no difference how horrifying something was, when Jeff spoke, people giggled.
I grabbed my smokes and a fifth of JD and ran off to find Diane. I heard the door slam up in the kitchen, and sure enough, she was running up the street towards the park when I caught up with her. "Diane! Hey!" She kept on going, but not very fast. Looking at her body from behind, I suddenly remembered having heard someone say, "..lovely pear shape." Extra large pear, maybe. I caught up to her, and she finally succombed to a slow walk. She was heading for the train tracks and I followed along.
"Katie just leave me alone and go home. It's over. I can't take any more." "Any more what?" I asked her stupidly. We'd reached the tracks by then, and she sat on them- her head in her hands, rocking back and forth, moaning loudly. I sat next to her, swigging from my bottle, smoking a cigarette. She let me put my arm around her, but only because it seemed like the right thing to do. It was getting chilly, the sun had already set, and I wasn't looking forward to pulling her ass off the tracks. I hoped it didn't come to that. Besides, my bottle was nearly empty. She was bawling like a baby in my arms, and I told her, "You can't kill yourself." "Why the heck not?" She asked me, wiping her snotty nose on the back of her hand. "Because," I lied, "You're the closest thing to a mom that I have." She took her glasses from me then, and we waked back to the house. Diane tried to get to sleep and I tried to forget what a piece of shit I was. I had no idea then just how many things I'd be trying to forget one day.
Tony put on some Anthrax to soothe me as I convulsed on the couch. "Now it's dark and I can see, don't you fucking look at me..." When I came to my senses, I was alone again, and I felt that a considerable amount of time had passed, maybe a day or so.
I staggered back to my beloved bathroom, ignoring my grey-ghost reflection in the mirror on the backside of the door. As I vomited, tears finally came to my eyes, and though they were only there because of the strain of retching, I was relieved that I could still produce them at all. Between heaves, I opened my mouth to say, "Well that's good," but I couldn't speak. I coughed, clearing vomit from the walls of my sticky, lumpy throat and tried again. Nothing. I could only moan. It wasn't that my throat was too sore to talk or that my voice was very quiet. It was as if my mind and mouth had forgotten how to work with proper regard to one another. I was mute.
Finally afraid now, finally caring,I felt compelled to search my eyes in the mirror again. Just as I suspected, they were blank. Nothing inside them, nothing behind them but miles of grey highway, stretching into forever. I was dead on the inside. "Where are you?!" I screamed inside my head as the next wave of vomit poured from my mouth.
I walked home after that. I didn't expect my parents to take me in or turn me away. Anything would have been fine in one way and awful in another, and nothing would have been a suprise. In my house, there was no "norm." Everything revolved around my father's mood swings, which were frequent and severe. I found out later, when I was 28 or so that he was about as close to schizophrenic as you can get without a diagnosis. He meets four of the five criteria for a diagnosis, with the fifth being hallucinations. His handfulls of pills daily gave him those though.
It's known family-wide that I got the brunt of his anger and spite. Out of the four kids, I was the second, and Mom and Dad's first daughter. Now that I'm older I can clearly see that my father has some major sexual issues, and it's obvious that my being born naked and female was what threw him for such a viscious loop. Mom never did much of anything but complain to him and apologize to me on his behalf. Once in a while she did try to step in to keep him from hitting me or something, but it never helped, and I usually ended up having to defend her. I've heard stories of his mistreating me from before I could even walk, but I only have scant memories of age five and up, so I suppose I'm lucky.
Religion was a huge thing growing up in his house, but probably not in the way you might think. Dad had extreme and warped views of religion, love, salvation, right and wrong. In his fervor to lead a godly home, he frequently declared the official end to foul language in the house. Since he was the only one of us who cursed, we all thought we were in the clear- that there was no possible way we could piss him off with this one. Well, we thought wrong. Within a day of one of his foul language bans, he brought home "Scarface" from the video store. This is the man who wouldn't let us watch anything but public television. This is the man who once choked a neighbor kid for being disrespectful. This is the man who dragged us all to church every Sunday morning so that we could know the love of God.
Anyway, from the second he hit "play" on the VCR we were all walking on eggshells. Mom finally asked him if he thought it was a good idea to let me and my older brother, Pete, watch Scarface. Pete was eleven at the time, I was eight. He became instantly enraged, screaming that he knows what he's doing and he knows what's best. Mom backed down right away, but it didn't do any good. He'd already gone away to that dark place in his mind. "I can see what's going on here!" he bellowed. He cursed and called my mom nasty names for a while, then a suspicious look crept over his wide face. "You're all in on this together, aren't you? You think I don't know, but I'm on to you!" Mom was in tears, shaking her head and asking, "Tom, what are you talking about?" "Ohh Pat..don't play dumb with me! You've held me back for long enough! You've all held me back for long enough!" Sometimes he shoved her, sometimes he didn't, but his words were always cutting and cruel and barbaric. In my younger years, I'd just leave the room when he got like that, but once I hit puberty, it became increasingly difficult to do so, and everything fell from the frying pan to the flame very quickly.