The Death of Lila Jane(3)

By: Teresa Mummert

“You hungry?”

“Doesn’t matter.”

“You can uh…” his hand rubbed against the back of his neck. “You can put that crib in the closet if you want. I meant to, I just didn’t have time.”

My eyes went to the baby bed and back to my uncle as I registered his pained expression.

“I could sleep on the couch, man. It really wouldn’t bother me at all.”

“No, no. You should have your own room. It wasn’t getting used anyway.”

I nodded, unable to think of what to say. My mother had only prepared me by saying Daven had suffered a great deal, but I was too wrapped up in my own bullshit to inquire further. There were no words for a situation like his she said. He was going through hard times of his own, but that didn’t stop him from offering me help when I needed it and I was an asshole for no reason. “I could eat.”

His mouth turned up with a smile, grateful for the subject change. “I got some boudin[8] I could cook up.”

I smiled, nodding my head. I hated anything spicy or with questionable content, but I couldn’t be picky. I hadn’t eaten a thing since I’d choked down one of those prepackaged, artificial cherry pies at sunrise from a gas station a few states away.

“Anything would be good, man.”

“Unpack ya’ grip[9] and ‘den put up ‘da clothes and come join me.” He grinned when my face twisted in confusion at his words before disappearing back down the hall leaving me feeling slightly more relaxed about our arrangement. Even though we didn’t know each other well, I could tell Daven was a cool guy who also had endured a lot of suffering he was trying to put behind him.

Removing my clothing from my bag, I tucked my belongings away in the top drawer of the dresser before tossing the bag into the closet and closing the door. If this became a long term thing, I’d slide the crib in there as well, but it didn’t seem like Daven was quite ready for that yet.

I groaned, my body aching as I laid myself out on the mattress to get a few minutes of rest before dinner was ready. The trip had drained me of any energy.


September 10, 2004

My father’s fingers tightened in my mother’s long, auburn hair. “Qu'il aille se faire foutre[10]! I want you out of my house!” His other hand still gripped his bottle of rum and it sloshed onto her clothing as she struggled to keep him from using it as a weapon, covering her face with shaky hands.

“Please,” she pleaded as sobs ripped from her throat. My father’s gaze met mine and I pulled my knees tighter against my thudding chest, terrified that I didn’t have my blanket that made me invisible. I’d left it at kindergarten for naptime. “He’s just a boy. He shouldn’t see this.”

The sound of the half-filled bottle hitting her cheekbone made an odd thumping noise, barely audible under the grunt that escaped my mother’s lips when he struck.

“No,” I cried out and my mom groaned again, this time slurring my name. She was disappointed with me. I wasn’t supposed to interfere. I was meant to be invisible.

“You want some of this too, you little craute[11]?” My father’s fingers left my mother’s hair, her head banging on the wood floor at his release and he trudged toward me, hand extended as his heavy boots scraped against the ground, drawing closer. My body stiffened as I squeezed my eyes shut tightly, preparing for the inevitable blow.


May 24, 2015

A kicking at my foot jolted me awake, causing me to flip on my back as I let my eyes adjust to the darkened room. The sun was no longer filtering through the blinds and it took a moment for me to recognize my surroundings.

“Stop being so gallou[12]. Dinner is ready. Allons manger[13],” Daven’s voice cut through my panicked thoughts, but he pretended not to notice I’d been startled.

“Jesus. You scared the hell out of me.” Rubbing my palms against my face, I pushed myself up, twisting my back until it popped my spine, easing some of the tension that had collected there from the trip.

"Speak softly, and carry a big stick, ya’?" He grabbed at the crotch of his pants in a crude gesture that would have made me laugh had I not been mentally battling my past.

Also By Teresa Mummert

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