Chris scrambled around his room, stuffing whatever he could find, whatever he couldn’t live without, into a trash bag. His heart raced and his thoughts twisted.
He needed to hurry.
Before it was too late.
“Mom! I’m going with you, Mom!” He hiccuped when he tried to hold back a sob.
He didn’t get a response.
Quickly glancing around his room, he made sure he didn’t miss anything important. But his room was a mess. His clothes were scattered on the floor. His sheets a tangled ball in the middle of his unmade bed.
His closet door hung open because he couldn’t close it anymore. He had stuffed it with so much crap. Stuff he thought was important, stuff he thought he needed to keep, but not important enough to pack.
He scrambled over the piles on the floor to get to his dresser and ripped open the top drawer.
He scoured the discarded dirty clothes taking up most of the floor space and found a few pairs not too holey or worn, throwing them into the black garbage bag. His eyes then landed on his most treasured possession propped in the corner next to his bed.
He rushed over to it, almost tumbling when his feet caught in a pair of dirty jeans on the way. Without a second thought, he shoved the last item into the bag and decided whatever else he’d need his mother could get him when they got to where they were going.
He had no idea where that was. He just knew they were leaving. And quickly.
His mother had had enough.
And he had no idea where his father was.
Probably at the garage. Or the warehouse. Or Crazy Pete’s.
Or in some other woman’s bed. He’d heard his mother yell at his father about that one too many times.
Something happened tonight, though.
Something she wouldn’t explain.
When she had walked through the front door a little while ago, she shot him and his older brother a frown, shook her head and announced, “You two will end up just like him.”
Right after that, she went into her bedroom. Chris had followed her, wondering why she was so mad.
What had their father done this time?
Or did Randy do something? He was always getting in trouble.
What he found was his mother packing a bag. Emptying her closet and drawers, and throwing everything that wouldn’t fit into that bag onto the bed.
She didn’t even hesitate when she spotted him standing in the doorway, clinging tightly to the frame. “Go get me the box of trash bags under the kitchen sink.”
“What are you doing?”
“Do what I said.”
He always did whatever his mother said because maybe, if he did, she’d give him a smile or a hug, or tell him she loved him.
She never did.
But he always hoped...
Maybe she would this time.
He’d taken off down the hall, found the open box of black garbage bags and ran back to his parents’ bedroom.
By then she had so much stuff on the bed. Possibly everything she owned.
As he’d stepped closer, staring at the mountain, she snatched the box from his fingers.
“What are you doing, Mom?” His heart had been racing so badly, his chest became as tight as the drum he’d found in a dumpster a few weeks ago. The drum he wasn’t allowed to play in the house, but only outside.
And even then, it still disappeared.
Randy said Mom had thrown it away, somewhere Chris wouldn’t be able to find it, because him playing it gave her a headache.
His mother, with an unlit cigarette hanging out of her mouth, began to pull bags out of the box.
“Are you leaving?”
She didn’t answer him, only kept stuffing bag after bag full.
“Randy!” she yelled. “Randy, get the fuck in here. Now!”
She was piling bags up on the floor, all of them full of her things.
“Yeah?” Chris’s older brother came and stood in the doorway, his face unreadable.
His brother’s eyes, the same dark brown as their father’s, had swept the room. But he said nothing. He stood there casually, not caring that their mother was leaving and hadn’t told them to pack, too.
“Start loading those bags there in my car,” she’d jerked her chin toward the pile of full trash bags, “while I pack the rest of my shit.”
“I can do it, Mom,” Chris had volunteered quickly, even though at twelve, Randy was taller and stronger than him. “But I’m going with you.”
“No, boy, you’re staying here. Boys need to be with their father.”
Boys needed to be with their mother, too. Didn’t she know that? Even he knew that and