TRACI MULLINS - OBJECT LESSON
Traci Mullins loves the art of story and has been published in Flash Fiction Magazine, Dime Show Review, Ellipsis Zine, The Drabble, Fantasia Divinity, Spillwords Press, Flash Flood, and others. She was named a Highly Recommended Writer in the London Independent Story Prize competition.
Riley didn’t mean to kill herself; she was just trying to make a point.
When she found her mother passed out at eleven o’clock on a Saturday morning, it wasn’t like she hadn’t seen Rebecca like this fifty times before, but today she had had it. Riley had been waiting for her mother to hit bottom for months, but Rebecca had looked particularly pathetic this morning—sitting up against the headboard with her chin flopped forward, a thin string of drool hanging from her bottom lip, the cup of coffee Riley had brought her an hour before tipped onto the white goose down duvet. The dark stain was splayed like a Rorschack inkblot, demanding interpretation. To Riley it screamed, “Train wreck!” Well, now it would be her mother’s turn to watch a locomotive barreling toward life as she knew it. Riley would be the perfect object lesson.
She had seen the sack of refills spilling out of her mother’s purse the night before. She had to give her mother credit: Rebecca knew how to work the system. She had three different doctors prescribing for three different phony ailments, so knocking back extra pills whenever she wanted to check out was no problem. Rebecca was about to see for herself what two little bottles of pills could do to a fifteen-year-old girl.
Around two o’clock, Riley heard Rebecca rattling around in the kitchen. Putting on a sleepy face, she walked in from the living room.
“Hey, Mom, I’m going to take a short nap. If I’m not up in an hour, will you wake me?”
“Sure, Honey. Have a good rest.”
When Riley got to her room, she opened the pharmacy bag and removed the pills, downing three-quarters of the bottle of Vicodin and chasing it with a handful of Ativan. That combination was her mother’s favorite cocktail—albeit in a less potent form—one that Rebecca would often swallow first thing in the morning to knock herself out. Rebecca might as well have just said out loud: “No sense in staying awake for life.” Or for me, Riley thought.
Riley lay down and adjusted her earbuds, welcoming the gentle waves from “Ocean Sounds” on Pandora. It didn’t take long for deep relaxation to settle into her bones, and she enjoyed the sensation while she waited for her mother’s saving knock on the door.
Rebecca yawned and headed back to her bedroom with a cup of coffee. Fluffing her pillow and lying back against the headboard, she decided to have an afternoon cocktail. There was no knock on her daughter’s door.
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