The day he turned 15, she was attacked by wolves in the parking lot of her son’s therapist. The drive had been long, and when she looked in her rearview mirror, she found her son staring out the window, holding his hands praying. She stepped out of her car when the wolves overtook her son. Men were fixing tires and changing the oil in the nearby lot, but they couldn’t hear her cries over their noise. A woman waited in her car but didn’t appear to want to help. People were ordering their lunch in the McDonald’s drive-thru but didn’t seem to see.
The biggest wolf, the one with the pale eyes, came from behind her and snagged her shirt while the other two clawed at her arms till she bled. She danced around the lot for what seemed to be forever, but they had just wanted to play with her, they were bored. Or maybe one had heard a voice and convinced the others of its scheme. Perhaps they just had their usual bad thoughts.
She walked into the therapist’s office holding her bleeding arms. Her face collapsed into her trembling hands, and she cried out of exhaustion. She left forty-five minutes later and drove north to eat crap food while her son sat next to her and turned 15. The year where most young blossoms are getting permits and going to movies with friends. The year of growth and possibilities. But she sat grieving as he turned another year older yet seemed to stay the same.
The year he turned 15 – every sound hurt her ears. The lawn mowers, the closing of doors, that chip bag, her spoon against the bowl slurping up Rice Chex. Even the gorgeous birds had a way of gnawing at her brain. Some of the bird calls would make her wince and moan. One day she chased blue jays out of the coconut palms; their territorial sounds stabbed at her eardrums. She watched them soar up to the clouds with their excited calls. Good riddance. Then she’d go back to her hell to make her coffee and there she could even hear the sound of her forming tears.
The year he turned 15 – they made it a habit of keeping shoes by their back door for sudden escapes. Run quick, they did. The neighbors probably thought they were playing chase, but they were running from his frenzy, his fury, his fuming, his fists. Those fists that always landed on her arms. Arms that became swollen and purple mixed with an odd charcoal gray. But she had stopped reaching for the ice. It was the year where toasters flew off the counters and where doors were torn off hinges as if by Hulk himself.
She’d listen attentively and say all the right things, but she’d still get new marks by the end of the day. What was wrong with her? Would she ever get it right, this business of raising her complicated, miserable, yet beautiful son? She still loved him though, and on a good day, she would play with the back of his hair. Golden, wispy, slightly curled up hair. She’d think. Why is it dread instead of joy, looking at this man that’s still a boy? And wonder. Is love even enough?
And then mid-way through the year, he came after her with such rage, her arms abandoned her. They were tired of the pain, so they just simply ran away. It wasn’t her choice, of course, she had loved her arms. It was all those desperate words and his sheer brute-force. So she stood around with no arms, and when he went ballistic, he had no choice but to go for her face. And by this point – she wished she was far out in outer space, floating about only hearing the sound of her heartbeat. It would be a familiar sound.
That year, she went half dead and was almost unrecognizable. She stopped marveling at the black butterflies that slowly fluttered past. And when the swans tried to drown each other, she didn’t interfere; she didn’t shed a tear. She stopped buying orchids; they just didn’t take her breath away as they had. She lost her spark – the whole damn world made her mad. She chose to swim with the sharks than heed the lifeguard’s warnings. Watch its shadow cruise past then place her broken hand on its fin and tell it to swim. Look up to the blazing sun, be amazed and give everything up to Him.
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