Author: Juju DeRoussie
Willow waited until she was sure her mother was in her bedroom to get up and go to her own bedroom with her blanket, her alarm clock, Dolly Tara and a lot of tears. What had happened in the hall? What was all that about? And more importantly who was this man who dared to steal the little she already had of her mother? This Harry?
This was so weird. And scaring. She didn't understand really well why was that that her mother was with a man.
And it was also so unfair. She had waited hours for her mother. To at least be able to kiss her goodnight. All of this wasted.
"Maybe Mommy doesn't love me anymore Dolly. That would be why she spends so much time out, and why she brought someone home tonight." Whispered Willow to her doll. The young girl couldn't find other reasons. If her mother brought someone else in their home and didn't try to spend more time with her, then it must be because she didn't love her anymore.
Suddenly Willow felt very young. Like a baby girl once more, needing her mother's arms and comfort more than she could hope for now.
It is crying once more that Willow Rosenberg fell asleep this night. Feeling so much alone that even Dolly Tara didn't help.
Tara Maclay had always been smart. How many times did her teachers told so to her mother. She was a bright little girl, curious but not careless.
But strangely, her heart refused to understand what her brain had clearly understood that night. It refused this so much that her brain was cutting the information little by little. Only, it wasn't fast enough in Tara's Heart's likings. Especially right now.
To dream of your mother's funerals is not fun. To dream of it at age of 8 is even less. But to dreams of her death, a painful one, and then the funerals, and then her own death, all of this was too much for Tara's heart. She knew somehow that she was dreaming, but couldn't wake up.
She knew she was dreaming because there were way too many people to this funerals. There were even her father and his son.
Tara screamed. She wanted this nightmare to stop right now. It was too much. She couldn't take more.
Her mother's absence and the distant but clear sound of throwing up coming from the bathroom greeted her cold wake up.
Her little body started to shake with the pain of her dream, the shock, and the full realization that her mother was really sick. Not only very tired. But real sick. Maybe it was even bad. Real bad. But not deadly right? Please do not let it be her death.
Once again she found herself crying. She wanted to go and see if her Mamma was doing ok, or if she could help her. But she hesitated. A faint "shit" coming from the bathroom made her get up.
"Mamma?" whispered the young girl. No answer. Tara walked slowly toward the light of the bathroom. Very slowly, not quite ready to face whatever was happening in this bathroom. But she was still going forward, not backward, and so she arrived at the door of the bathroom. Just in time to hear the flush, and see her mother watching the water go.
"Mamma? You alright?" asked shyly little Tara.
She saw her mother straighten up suddenly, as if startled, and then turn slowly, holding a hand against her mouth. The blonde woman nodded and went straight to the sink where she turned the cold water on and drank a mouth full.
"Hey baby girl, what are you doing here? I thought you were asleep?" Asked Rebecca, looking like guilty of something Tara could not imagine.
"I had a nightmare and when I woke up I heard you being sick. You aren't going to die Mamma are you? You aren't like the little boy's mother from the story are you?" Almost begged the little girl, afraid of the answer.
She saw her mother throw herself on her knees to engulf her in a tight embrace. Her Mamma was crying. Her world was shattering. That could not be true. That just couldn't.
"You aren't! You can't!" Cried the young girl, upset and angry.
"You remember the story honey? You remember the whole story?" Asked Rebecca through her tears.
Tara nodded, unable to talk anymore.
"Then you remember what the mother say to her son? That she will always be in his heart? That's true for me too honey." Said her mother, crying even more, her body shaken by the sobs.
Through her mother's sobs, Tara could hear some cough coming too. Her mother backed off a little and started coughing pretty hard, her body spitting blood.
"Go in the bedroom honey, I'll be right there. K?"
Tara had never had been that scared of blood. She nodded but couldn't move. She was frozen on the spot. Unable to take her eyes away from her mother.
Mamma's dying. How's that possible? Is it my fault? Thought Tara.
Seeing her mother go on her knees in front of the sink once more, Tara managed to move her feet. She broke a run to her mother's bed and went directly to hide under the cover. She promised herself to sleep with her mother from now on. To enjoy as much time as possible with her. And to find a way to keep this horror from happening.
Tara wept and kept weeping the whole night, even when her mother came back to hold her and rock her gently.
Rebecca was panicking inside. Not only did she cause a lot of pain to her daughter, but she also was dying. Really dying. She'll have to quit her job the next day. She just hoped she wouldn't have to leave her daughter sooner. Only two weeks left from the doctor's calculations. It was way too little to spend with her daughter. What if she had to go to the hospital sooner and leave her daughter? She needed more time! She needed more. She needed to see her daughter enter in Middle School! She needed to be there for Tara when she would have her first period, and... and when she would start to notice that friendship wasn't the only good kind of relationship in this world. And for when she would start dating and when she would graduate! And what about for her first child? She was never going to see any of this. She wasn't even going to see this school year finish. She would not even see the next report. Even if she was still alive then, it would be sent in Tara's future "home".
"I love you darling, you're Mamma's light, my angel, never forget it please." Rebecca whispered in her weeping daughter's ear.
Sheila woke up the next morning earlier than usual. She needed to talk to Willow. To tell her to not stay up that late, to not sleep on the couch. She had a bedroom!
The previous night bothered Sheila. Her daughter could have heard her, worse, she could have seen her. Willow was a big girl now, she was smart, she would understand. But she was her daughter.
This morning, Sheila took a shower after having showed his way out to Harry. Once refreshed, she noticed she still had 10 minutes to go before Willow would wake up. So she went to the kitchen and decided to make some Pain Perdu. Willow insisted on using the French name of the French toasts, saying it was funnier, and made more sense. But Sheila never really listened when Willow told her what it meant. Not that she didn't care about what her daughter was talking. But she had her own trouble. Her own worries. And Willow was always rambling so much, it was hard to keep up.
Thinking about it, Sheila wondered when had been the last time she had listened to her daughter. Just enjoying the innocence of the little read head's discoveries. And when was it that she stopped being impressed and proud of the brightness of this young mind?
She couldn't remember. She had too much worries. But it was true that Joyce at work had always things to say about her daughters' days at school. Some funny events happening during the weekends. How proud of them she was. How happy she had been the first day of Middle School of her oldest daughter. What was her name already? Bunny? Weird name. Sheila couldn't say so much about her only child. She had worries. She couldn't be a model like Joyce. Sheila needed a life for herself too! If Joyce preferred to go home right after work, it was her problem. But Sheila needed her time at the pub. She needed this time with some coworkers and friends. And recently Harry.
But Joyce was a single mother, like herself. And yet it seemed things were better for Joyce. How was that? Maybe Joyce's ex-husband was not like Sheila's. Maybe he helped with the kids.
Why was she thinking about all of this? It wasn't like she should feel jealous or guilty of anything. She was not a bad mother. Her daughter' had a home, food, and she was decently clothed. She had access to a good education too. So why should she feel guilty?
Sheila put all of this feelings aside, in a little box deeply buried in her memory.
As she was readying the pan for the toasts, Willow entered the kitchen, a look of delight, surprise, fear. All at once. Sheila felt a pang in her belly. She ignored it.
"Mom? What are you doing up?" asked Willow, in a so little voice full of fear that Sheila had almost failed to hear her.
"Hello Willow. I wanted to talk to you before you went to school. I made you French toasts". Her tone flat.
Willow's face lost any traces of delight or joy. Sheila could only see sadness, disappointment, and still a lot of fear. Why Willow was afraid of her?
Seeing she had her daughter's attention, she put a plate of "Pain Perdu" in front of Willow, and talked.
"You have a bedroom, I don't want to find you ever again asleep on the couch with your alarm clock and everything. Why did you install yourself down there anyway?"
Willow was playing with her food absently, as if she was searching a good excuse. Sheila felt some anger build its way into her.
"Why?" Asked Willow with a broken voice.
"Because you have a bedroom! And I don't want my friend to feel uncomfortable because you're there!" Said in a very angry tone Sheila Rosenberg, not understanding why her daughter was being so selfish.
"Why did you bring him here?" Asked again Willow, still with a broken voice, and unshed tears.
"I do as I wish Willow, I bring who I want in my home. You have nothing to say about it. Now finish your breakfast and get ready for school!".
"Sorry to have just wanted to wait for my mother in the hope to at least being able to say goodnight to her! To see her before the weekend because it is clear that living together is not enough!" Said Willow, throwing her full plate into the trash, not caring about anything and running from the kitchen.
"Don't be such a baby" screamed Sheila after the retreating figure of Willow. Why doesn't she understand that life isn't easy and that I need time to breath? She is smart she should understand.
Into her bedroom Willow cried freely. She couldn't believe her mother had told her all of this things. So it was true. She didn't love her anymore. She didn't even see her as her daughter anymore.
Worse, she didn't notice she was still only 10.
Anger and pain was rushing through her. She was shacking, sobs racking her lithe body. But she didn't curl up in a ball like she wanted so much. Instead she readied herself to go to Hell School. She just hoped today nobody would tease her. She could not take one more little thing. She was beyond hurt.
When her mother had screamed after her she had answered "Sorry to be only 10" under her breath. She was now regretting to not have had the courage to shout it in her mother's face. To remind her she was supposed to be a mother. She was supposed to raise her.
Willow had never felt to angry at her mother. It wasn't natural. It wasn't sane. She should worship her mother, want to be like her. Think she was one of the coolest mother.
But Willow knew better. She had not such a mother. She had no mother for that matter. There was a woman who gave her birth, who brought money home, and who spent some of her weekends with her. Well physically with her.
What did I do? Why doesn't she love me? I've tried to be a good girl. I do my homework, I'm good at school. I'm great at school! I behave very well too. I cook and clean the flat. I rarely bother her. Why doesn't she want to spend time with me? Why does she want other people here, and for them to not see me? Is she ashamed of me? Why?
Willow exited the building, her heart heavy. Heavy yet empty. And cold.
Her father was barely visiting 4 or 5 times a year, her grandmother passed away a year and a half ago. She was very close to her grandmother, and right now she missed her terribly. Her grandfather was mad at her mother, so they never saw him. He had never tried to see her since his wife's death. And her father's parents were dead long before she was born.
She had no one. She suddenly realized that if her mother didn't love her anymore, she was like an orphan. No one but herself.
She would take care of herself. She could do that. She would build herself a loving nest.
She had to.
Sheila couldn't believe how horrible she had been to her daughter. She knew she had been pretty absent from their home. She truly needed her time with her friends though. It was the only moment she felt alive.
But it was true. Her girl was not an adult yet. She needed her. She was 10. Not an age she could understand everything.
Sheila needed a drink. No matter it was not even 9.
She called her work to say she was sick. A day off couldn't hurt.
A little glass of Scotch either.
She made her way to her bathroom, and prepared herself a good hot bath. Relaxing.
A glass of Scotch in one hand, a cigarette in the other, Sheila enjoyed her bath.
Half an hour later, she was toweling herself when an idea occurred to her.
She called Harry and asked him if he could come to her flat.
A day off to enjoy Harry's talents. That was a good way to take off the guilt from her morning behavior, and to tell herself she needed her time alone, without her daughter. There was nothing wrong.
Somehow, she managed to believe it herself.
When Harry proposed her to go to his place to make another little movie, she accepted, put money on the table of the kitchen with a little word saying she wasn't going to come back this night. A little "Mommy who loves you" at the end to not feel guilty.
And she was gone.
Tara had spent her day on autopilot. She just wanted to go home to her Mamma.
School was horrible. It was the first time she thought that. Ever. But it was keeping her from her mother. And how can math, biology, grammar, how can all of these things be important? Would they help her to save her Mamma? Could they keep her mother from spitting blood like the prior night?
She still didn't know what would happen to her once her mother would go. Could she live without her Mamma? Maybe she would die too. That was logic. She couldn't imagine anything without her mother at her sides.
She had to find a way to save her Mamma. She would go tomorrow see her mother's doctor. She knew where it was, and knew his name. She saw it on envelopes at home.
She wouldn't tell her Mamma of course. But she would go and ask him what he wanted from her to save her Mamma. She was ready to give up everything she had. Even her Teddy Willow. Because nothing was more precious than her mother. Not even Teddy Willow. And God knew how precious Teddy Willow was.
How much did she want to see Willow... She would make everything better. She was sure of it. Willow was strong, and smart, and funny. She remembered this. And Willow, she was sure, had no problem.
She would suggest to give up on Teddy Willow to the doctor. Surely a thing that important would make him change his mind? It was what she had the most precious after her Mamma, it had to count for something.
It had to. She needed it. Willow would understand and forgive her. She was sure of that. Plus a doctor could only take good care of Teddy Willow.
She knew she was kidding herself. She wasn't that naÔve. She was smart. But she needed to believe in this.
Willow had spent her day being angry. She behaved in class though. Of course. It was class after all. But when the bitches came to tease her and mess with her, she stood up. It was the first time. She hoped the last time too because now they were truly mad at her.
She went in the library after her classes. A safe place. Nobody to mess with her. Only herself and books. Many books. And the librarian. A nice man. Since her arrival in Middle School, he had always been nice to her. Curious but respectful. Truly impressed by her. He was proud to have a good student in his library. Generally the students coming there were there to do their homework. And they usually did it has a so unwanted chore. Willow was always happy to learn. She had read quite a lot already and seemed always even more curious to understand. She was clearly a fast learner. And a good one.
So he liked her and was nice to her. When there were no more students he would propose her some cookies. Well, only if she wasn't reading. Because food and books wasn't allowed to be together. It was a crime.
Anyway, today there was no other place Willow wanted to be. Well, that was almost true. There was a place she had not forgotten. But it was silly. It was a long time ago. And she wasn't a little kid anymore. Even though it would be nice sometimes. It was even sillier if you think that she had spent only one day there. But her castle she and Tara had made was the safest and happiest place she had ever been in. She hadn't known well Tara's mother, but she was sure she was a better mother than her own. Maybe was it because Tara was a better daughter? Must be it.
Eventually she had to go back to her home. What with the library closing and everything.
She was sure her mother wouldn't be home. So no need to run. Her mother didn't call her anymore to check in. Nope. No more worries about Willow not making it safely back home.
Willow thought she should have known by then. If her mother wasn't worried anymore it was because she didn't love her anymore. Well now she had no more doubts. Her mother had proved it this awful morning.
Entering her home, Willow was assaulted by two things: silence and a strange odor. Like sweat and... something else.
She made her way further into the flat, turning on the lights. She opened a window and then checked what could be the smell. The only thing she found was the crumpled couch, which had some strange substance on it. She would have to clean it. Not tonight though. She was just going to have a snack and then, to bed. She was exhausted. The upset night the day prior, and her horrible day was having a tiring effect. Who knew to be so hurt and angry was so tiring? Exhausting even? Not her. But now she knew.
Taking things from the fridge she put then on the table. While doing so she noticed a note.
Well now her mother had sleepovers. Without a doubt with this Harry.
She noticed the signature and tore the note.
This was a lie, she knew it. If she loved her then why didn't she care about her? She'd rather be not loved anymore than to be loved and ignored.
Once again angry, Willow put away her food back in the fridge, having no more appetite. How bad a daughter could she be?
She went in her bedroom. Her universe. When was the last time her mother came into her bedroom for more than 30 seconds?
She laid on her stomach, crying and screaming in frustration. She felt so mad, but couldn't find a way to express all her rage. She wanted to scream, to tear apart every single thing tearable, to break everything breakable. To break the window. To make a mess of the flat in which she was alone to live. It was truly only a hotel for her mother. She was sure of it. Her so called Mommy, who was currently avoiding her.
Willow screamed one last time, and then fell silent. The flat was totally silent except for the fridge's humming, yet her ears were ringing, her breath was ragged and as loud as a storm. At least in her own ears. She felt suddenly very calm. Maybe too calm. She needed to think. To make things better for herself.
She needed a plan.
She needed to be a 10 years old girl.
She needed a confidante. A human one, not Dolly Tara. One being able to advice her. She loved dearly Dolly Tara. But it wasn't the same.
She needed to protect Dolly Tara. Tara. To keep her from the Adults' World. From the weight of responsibilities. She needed to protect her. As much as if the doll was truly Tara. Her memory of her anyway. She remembered Tara's bright blue eyes. Full of innocence. She was like this once. She was sure she still held some. But she was too angry. She had to be her own mother. She couldn't believe in a world full of hugs and puppies anymore. Dolly Tara could. She would make sure she still would.
So Willow Rosenberg, 10 years old, sat at her desk and thought. Planned.
In another town, Tara Maclay, 8 years old, sat at the kitchen table eating with her mother. And thinking. Trying to find a way to save her mother. Ready to give up on anything.
In the same room, Rebecca Maclay, 31 years old, eating with her thoughtful daughter, sat, enjoying just to be with her daughter.
Back in the first town, Sheila Rosenberg, 34 year old, was bound to a bed, a video camera filming her while her friend Harry was fucking her. The feeling of guilt somewhere in the back of her mind. Mind clouded by pleasure. Enjoying this feeling of being desirable. A woman.