On Sunday, April 16, 1995, I vowed I would never sleep
with my husband, Rodney, again.
It was the day I opened the door to 75 Copper Lane and swung my luggage onto the tiled floor of the hall. Then I remember skidding, and landing hard on my rear. As I sat in cat vomit, Velcro greeted me, waving his string of a tail.
I hoped that was all I would find after my neighbor Pam had accosted me outside with: "Bad news for you, I'm afraid, Kate. We had to call the police."
What the hell happened?
"Shit, what happened?"
"A bit noisy in the wee hours. High spirits, that's all. You're a brave soul, letting Charlie have a party."
Party. Oh damn, yes, the party. Tossing my jacket in the direction of the washing machine, I headed for the kitchen in search of mop and bucket.
And I froze.
I stood for a while with my eyes closed until I felt ready to look again.
Shards, chunks and splinters of glass formed a neat pile in one corner. Congealed egg yolk streaked down walls. Curtains hung by one hook from rails. The dishwasher yawned open with a load of beer cans and foil cartons. In the sink, cigarette stubs and globs of pizza floated in beige water.
And a stagnant pool puddled by the back door.
Someone had peed in my kitchen.
To hell with the sunflower-yellow cabinets I'd sanded and painted, the shelves I'd sawed and measured for the turquoise canisters. To hell with all the blue-striped salt and pepper pots I'd collected for eighteen years. Eighteen years! To hell with the floor I'd stripped and polished until my knees throbbed. Someone had peed in my kitchen.
I ran upstairs and banged on my son's door with clenched fists.
"Follow me," was all I could say.
And he did. He sauntered downstairs with a coffee mug in his hand.
I stood in the middle of the mess and looked at him, and when I read the cool indifference in his face, tears stung my eyes.
"Chill out, Mom," he said. "It was just a party. You knowgatecrashers and all. No big deal."
Charlie didn't care. It was at that point I remember drowning in a spin of fury and confusion. He didn't bloody care! Smashing plates to the floor, and why the hell not, please let me join in the fun too, I watched them explode into little pieces. Six, seven, eight, nine shattering plates. And when I was done, when I saw Charlie gazing through the window, tapping his foot to a tune in his head, it was then I slumped onto a chair and covered my face with my hands.
What had happened to my little boy? I felt his downy head under my chin, smelled his familiar baby-scent of talcum powder and milk. I heard his first words, his chuckling laugh, saw again the liquid of his brown eyes. I ached with love for him, but reality had punched me hard in the stomach this time. As much as I wanted to hold him, and search his face for the love I couldn't see anymore, I resisted.
I snapped a paper towel from the roll to blot my face. Now bend down, Kate, open the doors under the sink, and throw the paper towel away. I gave myself orders, needing to function.
Reprinted from Cover the Butter by Carrie Kabak, pages 1-13, with permission from Dutton, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Copyright © 20054 by Carrie Kabak. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced without permission.
Blood at the Root
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