Stripping Callum(3)

By: Muriel Garcia


I didn’t want to think about that conversation, and that night I went to bed with a heavy heart. I was a really anxious kid as it was, but that talk didn’t help. I tried to keep it together. It was hard in the beginning, but as life went on, it was slightly easier.

I was witnessing my aunt going deeper into her depression, and her alcohol consumption was getting worse. After I turned thirteen, I don’t remember ever seeing her sober. She wasn’t mean or anything to me, she was just in a constant inebriated state, and I hated it. I wanted my carefree Lili back, but she was long gone.

She was taking me places less and less. I could have friends over, she didn’t mind as long as we wouldn’t require her to interact with us. The only things we did together were celebrating our birthdays and the holidays like Christmas and Easter. She was still throwing me parties for my birthday, which I’m grateful for; it made me feel more normal on those days as I could be carefree.

Things took a turn for the worse when I turned sixteen. We had a boys and girls party at her house, and we were having fun and messing around like any sixteen-year-old kids would. Everything was grand and jolly during the day, but once everybody left, she started yelling at me that I was an ungrateful slut who was using her just for her money and to get boys to like me. Apparently, she caught me making out with Jason in her office, where she keeps her alcohol stash.

I didn’t understand what she was going on about and why she was so mad; I still don’t know to this day. We had a huge fight after that. I kept trying to get what was wrong out of her, but she wouldn’t tell me and was just shouting things that made no sense. It took me a few minutes to realize that she was completely shitfaced. I agreed with her, not wanting to antagonize her even more, and I went to bed.

That episode quickly became a daily occurrence. I tried to help her. I tried to get the neighbor to help us and get her to AA meetings, but she didn’t want any of it. I couldn’t get her the help she desperately needed, and I was too young to have her institutionalized. I felt lost, and I was slowly going down a dangerous slope. I would drink some of her alcohol and sneak out of the house when she was passed out. She never noticed anything or so I thought.

A couple of months later, she snapped at me because I was late coming back from a movie with Jason. She didn’t let me speak to try and explain myself. She just yelled at me and slapped me across the cheek. She was a frail woman, alcohol took its toll on her, but the hatred in her voice and in her eyes was enough to make me be afraid of her.

I was in my rebelling period, but I didn’t dare talk back to her. I rushed up the stairs and locked myself in my room and cried. I fell asleep at some point, and when I woke up I remembered her words on my eleventh birthday. ‘If I ever try to hurt you, you have to promise me you’ll take what’s in the safe in your bedroom closet and leave without looking back. Go as far away as you can.”

And that’s what I did.

I looked in my closet and found the safe she mentioned, right at the bottom of it. I entered the code, my birthday backward, and opened it.

Inside I found five thousand dollars, a pocket knife, and a gun. I took everything, packed my bag with the bare necessities, and quietly went downstairs.

I didn’t want to risk waking her up if she was asleep.

It broke my heart to leave her, but it was for my own good. I couldn’t take this anymore. I never wanted this. I wanted my family back, but she was long gone. In hindsight, I think my aunt Lili died the same day my parents’ died. I wish I had noticed earlier she needed help so I could have provided her the help she desperately needed.

I tried not to let myself dwell on the past too much as it was my downfall. Once I began to dwell, my spirits would fall and I’d have anxiety attacks.

I walked to the bus station that was two miles away from home and bought a ticket on the next bus leaving.

Goodbye Seattle, hello Boise.

What the hell am I going to do there?

I was freaking out. I was sixteen, alone without any family or friends, and I had nowhere to go. I was in serious trouble, and I couldn’t tell anybody.

I slept through the trip. Once I got there, I was feeling as lost as I was when I started my journey. I had no idea where I could go. Sure, I had money and could get myself a nice place for a couple of nights, but I didn’t want to spend it all in one go. I had no idea how long I’d be homeless and what would happen to me. I’d be lying if I said traveling around with five thousand dollars wasn’t nerve wrecking. If I could have, I would have exchanged that money for my old life back. All the money in the world can’t fix what’s broken inside of you.