The Death of Lila Jane

By: Teresa Mummert



There was nothing more infuriating then having someone tell you that you wouldn’t understand something because you are just a teenager.

Just a teenager. A child.

As if my feelings weren’t valid. As if they’d never been in my shoes. My eyes dipped down to my vintage black and white saddle shoes that my mother just had to get me. They reminded her of some arbitrary moment in time from her past when life was simpler, meaning before she had children and a mortgage. I used the toe of one shoe to shove the other over my heel, kicking it across the room before stepping out of the other.

I was ready to walk my own path, to make my own mistakes. But my parents weren’t ready to let go yet and allow me to live my own life. They kept me under lock and key, even mentally, with an assortment of medications designed to improve obedience and dull creativity.

Don’t get me wrong, the things they did were out of love. They feared I would do something to wreck my life before it even began like get pregnant or go on a murdering spree. The real problem was they didn’t trust in their own ability to be good parents. But That wasn’t my problem.



May 23, 2015

My few possessions that I’d decided to keep were shoved haphazardly in a bag that used to belong to my father, or so I was told. I slung it over my shoulder and knocked on the front door, hoping for some reprieve from the hot, southern sun.

“Qui C'est q'ca?[1]” A voice called in Cajun French[2] from inside the modest home as heavy footsteps fell closer.

I readjusted my stance from one foot to the other, my legs restless after hours of travel. I hated the muggy Louisiana weather and the sun felt like it was burning the flesh of my shoulders through my cotton shirt. I could feel the heat creeping across my arms and I strained my neck to the side, cracking it as the front door pulled open.

“Mais, garde don[3]! You made it, T. Den[4],” Uncle Daven said as his dull, blue eyes traveled over me, his enthusiasm forced, but who could blame him? He hadn’t shaved in at least a few weeks, giving him a disheveled, almost homeless quality and the odor of booze mingled with sweat wafting off him didn’t help. If it weren’t for his muscular build, I might have thought he was just squatting in this house like a stray dog waiting for his owners who’d abandoned him to return.

“It’s Kaden. Where else would I go?” I took a step forward, across the threshold and he moved out of my way, allowing me inside and under a vent blowing slightly cooled air. I tried not to get upset that he used the nickname for me he had as a child. He didn’t know me anymore. I wasn’t his Petit Kaden. I was a man now, one who’d taken care of my mother for years when it felt like the rest of the world had abandoned us. In truth, we’d abandoned the world, running from her fears.

“Your mother thought maybe you’d head up North, ya’,” he replied, but his voice trailed off as if thinking out loud and perhaps wishing she’d been right. I couldn’t blame him.

My eyes had danced over the expansive open living room before I turned to face him, taking in our slight resemblance. Although I took after my father, my mother’s side shone through. We had the same angular jaw, a feature that had given me a hardened look. The same thing that made the guys my age think twice before fucking with me is what kept girls by my side.

“She said there was a gaienne[5]… a girl.”

I cringed, clearing my throat that threatened to close from the mere mention of Taylor, the only girl I’d let in.

“Not anymore,” I replied in a clipped tone as I let my bag slide from my shoulder, thudding hard against the oversized tile floor of the entryway. Daven nodded as he glanced around me, avoiding eye contact.

“Yeah, well, women are harder to hold on to than a greased hog. You’re only sixteen. You got time.” His hand clasped down on my shoulder before he walked by me and into his kitchen ahead of us, leaving me trying to figure out what the hell he was talking about. It had been years since I’d heard his accent and it was nearly impossible to decipher his words. My mother had taught herself to speak without it when I was still young. Mine faded not long after and I was thankful I could no longer hear my father’s voice in the echos of my own.

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