A Shoebox VI

Posted: September 27, 2010 in #tuesdayserial, A Shoebox

The first bottle of vodka hadn’t touched the sides or even made her drowsy.  The second was having some effect, she thought as she closed one eye and looked at how much was left in the bottle.  Now’s not the time to get drunk and escape she kept telling herself, but the pressure of the last week had finally got to her and the only way she knew how to cope with it, was to get inebriated.

She woke the next morning a blithering mess.  Tears and feelings of utter devastation were today’s theme.  Her family had been torn apart once, but together they got through it.  But now it was in complete shatters and all she wanted, more than anything else in the world was her mum.  As she sobbed into the pillow, she remembered the same sound coming from her mum’s bedroom so many years ago.  The heartache she felt and the burden she was carrying alone.  Like the mystery of the Egyptians moving heavy stones to build the pyramids, her mum’s coping methods were a mystery.  Some would say its because she was a fighter.  Others said it was her motherly instincts.  But all Gemma knew was that if her mum could do it then, she needed to do it now.

*   *   *

The sun’s heat shone a warming glow on her bare shoulder, like a comforting hot water bottle in the winter, it made her feel safe.  The grass beneath her toes was soft and smooth.  She wiggled them slowly trying to take in her surroundings as she sat by the graveside.  Her mum had been laid to rest just a few weeks before.  The ground was still freshly dug and the headstone had not yet been set.  Instead a small plaque stood defending her like an armed solider.  So many questions, but she was not here to answer them and the most agonising thought that Gemma couldn’t let go of, was that she’d never be here to answer them, ever!

She touched the soil, almost feeling a link with her mum by doing so.  The brightly coloured pinwheels span slowly, as the breeze carried through like a gentle whisper.  By sitting next to her mum’s graveside, she psychologically felt a connection and knew that her mum was having some influence over her thoughts.  She couldn’t deal with this situation alone any longer and it was time to let her siblings in on this ghastly secret.  She didn’t have to carry this burden alone.

She left the cemetery a lighter being than she had entered. 

She text messaged her sisters Jessica and Kim, asking them over to her mum’s house that evening.  Ryan was still staying with their grandparents until the following weekend.  They felt they could keep an eye on him whilst he finished his last year at school.

Jessica replied instantly, which was no surprise because her mobile was permanently attached to her hand, saying she had been meaning to pop over and help sort things at the house, so she would be there by 6.  Kim text about an hour later to say she would be there straight after work, traffic permitting.  It was then that Gemma’s urge to have another drink began to escalate again and her stomach began churning like a heavy duty plough.

A cruel niggling itch inside her head, continually asked her to drink, could be calmed and quietened but only by giving into the temptation of drink.  Like a broken record playing over and over, all she could think of was drink and the way it made her feel.  The constantly bothersome reminders, made her feel weak, by thinking about it constantly and the physical shakes were all signs of her addiction making a dramatic statement.  It controlled her, rather than the other way around.  She needed to overcome this, realising that being under the influence of alcohol whilst letting her sisters in on this horrendous secret of events, would not be advisable.  They may not believe her for a start.

Where on earth would she begin?  Her sisters had no idea what Gemma had been involved in during the last week.  Finding their brothers birth certificate, visiting their estranged dad, the horrific realisation of William (Uncle Bill) and that she had visited him too.  She needed support on the next part of the journey.  Do they tell Ryan?  After all this is his life. And the fact that the mystery continued, because William had no idea of Ryan’s existence; although he revelled in the fact that Gemma’s dad had left her mum through guilt.  So why had her mum put William’s name on the birth certificate?

As she sat in the living room of her mum’s house, waiting for the arrival of her two sisters, the questions and next steps spinning in her head like a formula one race, she starred at the family’s pictures on the walls.  They’d had a happy childhood, especially when the girls were young and their dad had been around.  Almost a perfect family.  Then she glanced at the portrait of all four children, which sat, proudly over her mum’s ornate fireplace.  Ryan was four at the time it was taken and Gemma distinctly remembered their life being ok at that point too, although it was then a single parent family.  All four children’s faces beamed back into the room, rosy cheeked and bright white teeth, and each one the apple of her mum’s eye.  Gemma felt guilty for finding out the dark secrets that could tear their worlds apart and guilt turned back to cravings. 

The temptation, her own self-persuasion and knowledge that one drink would calm her nerves and also put the cravings at bay were too much to handle.  As she darted from the chair to go to the kitchen, a key turning in the front door saved her from herself.

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