Life has always been a struggle for me. From what I could tell, it wasn't daisies for everyone else either. I never let go of the fantasy that one day I wouldn't feel so alone and isolated from the rest of the normal world. My dream is what kept me going many nights when I fought the desire to just disappear. It would be easier if I'd never been born.
I'm positive my mother sees things the same way. I know what you're thinking and, no, she never said those words, but my entrance into the world dramatically changed the course of her life. She'd been a beauty queen in the small Arkansas town where she'd grown up. Everyone said she would make it big someday, somehow, maybe her beauty and charm would have opened those doors, if she hadn't met the man who helped give me life. The fact is she ran off to become a star and fell in love with a very married man who didn't acknowledge me or help her for fear of tarnishing his social standing in the big city of Nashville, Tennessee.
A one-room shack in the hills of Tennessee is where we spent the first part of my life. Until the day my mother up and decided life would be easier in Alabama. On the southern coast, she could find work, and the sunshine would be good for us, or so she said. I knew she needed an escape, or maybe just a place to start over. If any one person could be a magnet for losers, my mom fit the profile, and, unfortunately, she was about to bring another child into the unstable life she managed to lead, where she greatly relied on a kid-me-to handle things. If only she had let me make her decisions for her in the dating world, like she did with the rest of her life. But, alas, we were headed to southern Alabama where the sun is supposed to shine bright and wash away all our worries...yeah, right.
"Mom, are you going to work today?" I rolled my eyes at my very pregnant mother who lay sprawled out on her bed in her panties and bra. Pregnancy made Jessica an even bigger drama queen than before having unsafe sex with another loser. She moaned and covered her head with a pillow. "I feel awful, Sadie. You just go on without me."
I'd seen this coming a mile away before school even let out. The last day of school landed yesterday, but instead of being able to go out and be a normal teenager, Jessica expected me to make the money. It was almost as if she'd planned on me working in her place all along.
"Mom, I can't just go to your work place and take your position. They won't be okay with your seventeen-year-old daughter doing your job." She pulled the pillow from her face and tossed me a sulk she'd perfected years ago. "Sadie I cannot continue cleaning house with my stomach the size of a beach ball. I'm so hot and tired. I need you to help me. You always figure stuff out." I walked over to the window unit and turned it off.
"If you would stop running the air at a continuous sixty-eight degrees, we might be able to get by on less money. Do you have any idea how much it costs to run a window unit all day long?" I knew she didn't know, nor did she care, but I still asked. She grimaced and sat up. "Do you have any idea how hot I am with all this extra weight?" she shot back at me.
It took all my restraint to keep from reminding her she hadn't used a condom. I bought them for her and made sure her purse always contained several. I and made sure her purse always contained several. I even reminded her before she went out on dates. Remembering who the adult was in our relationship could be difficult at times. Most of the time it seemed to me our roles were reversed, being the adult however did not mean she made smart decisions because Jessica simply did not know how to be responsible.
"I know you are hot, but we can't spend every dime we make on the air conditioner," I reminded her. She sighed and flopped back down on the bed.
"Whatever," she grumbled.
I walked over to her purse and opened it up. "Al right, I am going to go to your job today, by myself, and I hope they allow me inside the gate. If this doesn't work, don't say I didn't warn you. Al I am qualified for is minimum wage jobs, which won't pay our bills. If you would come with me, I would have a better chance of landing this position." I knew as I spoke the words, I'd already been tuned out. She'd worked for two months and managed to keep the job.
"Sadie, you and I both know you can handle it by yourself." I sighed in defeat and left her there. She would go back to sleep as soon as I left. I wanted to be mad at her, but seeing her so big made me pity her instead. She wasn't the best mom in the world, but she did belong to me. After I got my clothes on, I walked past her room and peeked through the door.
She softly snored with the window unit once again cranked to sixty-eight degrees. I thought about turning it off, but changed my mind. The apartment already felt warm, and the day would only get hotter.
I stepped outside and got on my bike. It took me thirty minutes to get to the bridge. The bridge would take me into the exclusive island connected to Sea Breeze, Alabama. The island wasn't where the locals lived, but where the wealthy came for the summer, which employed full staffs. Jessica managed to snag a job as a domestic servant at one of the houses making twelve dollars an hour. I prayed I would be able to take over her position without a hitch.
I found the address on her employee card I'd retrieved from her purse. My chances on getting this job were slim. The further I peddled onto the island, the larger and more extravagant the houses became. The address to my mother's place of employment landed three more houses down. She would, of course, have to work at the most extravagant house on the block, not to mention the very last one before the beach itself. I pulled up to a large ornate iron gate and handed Jessica's ID card to the guy working admittance. He frowned and gazed down at me. I handed him my driver's license. "I'm Jessica's daughter. She is sick, and I am supposed to work for her today." He continued to frown while he picked up a phone and called someone. That wasn't a good thing considering no one here knew I was coming in her place. Two large men appeared and walked up to me. Both sported dark sunglasses and reminded me of players who should be wearing football uniforms on NFL teams instead of being dressed in black suits.