Thursday photo #prompt – Ahead #writephoto

If you want to participate, here’s the link:

“One day, I’ll walk through a forest, leaping on water-sculpted boulders across a gurgling stream,” I said to my therapist.

“To do that, you’ll have to leave this house,” she chuckled. 

“I walked out the front door yesterday, Dr. Jones,” I said, beaming at my success.

She scribbled a few notes on her pad.  “Your mother told me all about it. You took three steps outside, saw a dog, and ran to your room screaming.”

“It was coming toward me!”

“To be petted,” Dr. Jones replied.

I hate that look, the one she gives me when she’s disappointed.  “One day, I’ll hike atop a craggy outcrop.  One day.  But for now, I’m content with watching other people do it on my 60 inch screen.”

“About that,” she said.  “If you do not walk at least one additional foot each day past your home, you’ll lose your entertainment center.”

Well…I knew for a fact that if I said I’d die without it,  I’d be drugged into oblivian and wake up in a hospital.  “Why can’t you give me the time I need to forge ahead on my own?”

She put her pad and pen on the table next to my living room couch and began the expected lecture. “You’ve had many years to do that.  Your mother is exhausted by your demands and can’t handle you alone.  Your brother is 32 and he’s moving out of state for a different job next month.”

“So?”  I asked with a frown.  “He was always mean to me anyway.”

“Your 30th birthday is in a month, and your mother deserves a life of her own,” Dr. Jones said.  “Without your brother’s assistance, she’ll have to find a state-run home for you. “

“She’s never home anyway!”

“You make no effort to help her when she’s home!  She works full time,  pays the bills, cooks for both of you and cleans the house.”

“I clean my own room!”

“If it was altruism, you’d clean the bathroom, learn to cook and get a job. It’s simply another way of controlling everything and everyone around you.”

“I don’t care what you think,” I said, glaring at her.  “Mom knows my room is spotless and she appreciates my efforts.” 

“You’ve learned to manipulate your mother through guilt, and you’ve found ways to manipulate every therapist who has tried to cure you of your agoraphobia.  I’m a gestalt therapist.”

“I know,” I grumbled.  “Your therapy style is crude, heartless, and I refuse to spend another day talking to you.  Touch my TV and I’ll call abuse!”

“As you wish,” she said, much too calmly.  “If your brother reports that you haven’t quietly walked to the front gate and back, I’ll return tomorrow with 2 strong men.  If there is evidence that you have manhandled your mother again to get your way,  you will be transferred to a long-term mental health facility.”

“This session is over,” I said, walking to my room.  I closed the door, listening for the sounds of my mother crying to the therapist and, finally, the therapist’s car door closing.

There are different ways to forge ahead, and I can guarantee that one of them was not going to be  institutionalization.  It helps to have hiding places to  save several different pills over the years, mostly opiods and psychotropic medications.   My brother left one of my mother’s paring knives on the counter the last time he cut up veggies for the soup he made to nurse her through an illness.  That, I hid with the pills.  Damn if the whole neighborhood didn’t think he was the world’s best son.  They didn’t know him the way I did. 

Twenty opiods should work to deaden the pain, followed by half a bottle of sleeping pills.  I chugged those down, crawled into bed, cut a swath down both my arms, and felt a warm slime of blood shoot out under the covers. 

The last words I whispered were, “Enjoy your new found freedom, mother.  Hope you die from the guilt.”

Looking down at your body from the ceiling is a strange feeling, but moving through walls is bizzare.  I watched Mom sit in the kitchen, leisurely sipping on her coffee.  My brother took the seat with arms on it at head of the table, moving close enough to hear her whisper.  “You’re sure this is going to work?”

“I left out the sharpest knife I could find.  No fingerprints,” he replied.  “You’ve had life insurance policies on everyone in our family for 20 years.  Suicide is covered.”

“The premiums were brutal, but ultimately worth it.  I’ll sell this place, buy a house in both our names near your new job and give you what’s left.  You’ll get half the life insurance payout.”

“What are you going to do with your share?”  He asked.

“I’ll have a minimum of $400,000 to buy a motorhome, park it in a gated community somewhere in California, and fly to exotic places whenever I want,” Mom said.  “When I’m tired of that, I’ll look for an old widower desperate for companionship and take out a policy on him.” 

My brother chuckled, his brown eyes counting up the number of dollars behind her promise. “Both of us have a knack for finding the right…people. You have a gift for real estate values, too.  Homes in this neighborhood rose by 10% over the past 5 years. Good thing I’m going to marry a woman with a degree in psychology.”

“Thanks to your girlfriend, we’ve pushed my demon of a daughter over the edge, but I have to warn you…”

“No need,” he scoffed at her.  “I promised her a skiing trip to the Alps in  3 months if she could help us be rid of the family albatros.”

“Life insurance?”

“As soon as you get the payout from our unfortunate family tragedy, there will be a skiing accident in her future.”

As they laughed, a white light formed, my father’s face shining at me.  He had died slipping on the back porch after an ice storm. I thought about asking, Did they do the same thing to you?

My father’s hand stretched toward mine, I reached for it without question.  No boundaries,  no fears,  simply an understanding that my temporary voyage away from where I belonged was over…and I was going home.


©Joelle LeGendre