Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1578791-Wake-Up
by Leaf
Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Other · #1578791
A young woman is torn between the memories of what WAS and the reality of what IS
    It was a late Sunday morning in early June. Her mother was still sleeping and wasn't likely to emerge until some time tonight. Alyssa didn't have to be a genius to know her mother was not alone in her bed. The deep voice of a stranger had mingled with her mother's drunken laughter and kept her up most of the night.

    Alyssa sat cross-legged on her bed, surrounded by school books and papers. She was trying to get a good start on her final term paper while it was quiet but she couldn't seem to focus. She peered out of her small window, hoping it would provide some inspiration. "Great, it's raining" she muttered, "not exactly the encouragement I was looking for."

    She dressed and wandered aimlessly into the main room of the apartment she shared with her mother. 'Perhaps something out here will inspire me,' she thought to herself. But the aftermath of her mother's latest bender was all that greeted her. The sink was loaded with murky glasses and cigarette butts; beer bottles and chip bags littered the tiny living room. The radio buzzed a tuned out station from it's upside down position on the floor. Without further inspection, she grabbed her jacket off the back of the tattered couch and beelined for the door. 

    Once Alyssa was out in the rain, she took a deep breath and closed her eyes. The first cold drops taunted her as they rolled down inside her jacket; daring her to turn back to shelter. She stood holding her face to the sky defiantly, letting the taste of drizzle and hairspray stream into her mouth.

    Alyssa Stanton was only three weeks -and a term paper- away from graduating highschool. She'd gone through the motions of applying to a few community colleges but Alyssa had her heart set on attending McGill University. Not only had she been accepted into the best University in Canada, she had been offered a full scholarship for her first year. She wanted to study medical research. However, she had yet to send in her acceptance papers. McGill was eight hours from her home in Northern Ontario; eight hours away from her mother. As much as she relished the thought of getting away from the dark sadness that was home, she was worried too. How would her mother deal with being left on her own? Alyssa sighed as she walked, consumed with these thoughts and the decisions that lay ahead.

    Alyssa's mother, Nadine, was a bonefied drunk. She had started drinking eight years ago when Alyssa's father passed away, and she hadn't stopped since. Robert Stanton had died suddenly of what was later determined to be a brain anerism. It had most unfortunaItley happened on a night he was out with his wife on one of their "fancy dates". He had been tired and complaining of a headache but she insisted on keeping their plans. He died before the main course arrived. The doctors tried to explain Robert's anerism to Nadine and told her there was nothing she could've done but it was no use. She could not hear them through her own guilty grief.

    Nadine began working odd jobs here and there, but she couldn't keep a job for more than three months; she was too busy drowning her sorrows. They were forced to move out of their modest bungalow due to foreclosure and had been in one tiny apartment after another ever since. They mostly survived off the government services that had deemed her mother disabled and sent cheques every month.

  Alyssa could still close her eyes and see her mother as she used to be. She could see her baking chocolate chip cookies every Saturday, singing along to Casey Kasam's Weekly Top Forty. She saw them painting each other's toenails and brushing each other's hair. She remembered her mother often picking her up after school and taking her for surprise picnics or to the cinema. They would always sit at the kitchen table before dinner and do Alyssa's homework. Alyssa could still take a deep breath and smell her mother's hair; she could hear mother laughing and see her beautiful smile. Nadine had been loving and attentive, sensitive and funny. While Alyssa was sure some would still consider her mom 'funny', Nadine had been void of the rest of these traits for years. She was now a frail, hollwed out shadow of the woman Alyssa still saw in her memories. She was loud and obnoxious, careless and mean. But Alyssa stubbornly hung on to the hope that someday the woman she used to know would return.   

      Realizing she had gone nowhere but in a circle, Alyssa headed back towards her home. Just as she reached the driveway, a car sped around the corner and splashed a dirty puddle half way up her legs. She turned to flip the driver the finger but quickly realized it didn't matter; she was soaked anyway. Looking down at herself, she began to laugh. She laughed hard and she laughed loud. Her laughter eventually turned to tears as she stood alone in the downpour outside her building. Alyssa realized in that pathetic moment, she couldn't do this anymore. She needed to start living in the present instead of dreaming about the past. And so she stood there and cried, mourning the mother she'd lost.



SIX MONTHS LATER a package arrived at McGill University for Alyssa Stanton.

It contained a letter;

My Dearest daughter,

I am so proud of you.

You leaving was the wake-up call I needed.


I love you,

Your Mother

and a batch of chocolate chip cookies. The return address was NEW HAVEN Recovery Centre, Sudbury, Ontario.

© Copyright 2009 Leaf (qualitybeing at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates have been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work.
Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1578791-Wake-Up