19 October 2004

Story: Molly - Chapter 2

Molly - Chapter 2
by Breanna Carter

I caught Molly before she collapsed to the floor in tears. I’d never seen her act like so before. She was muttering things, something I couldn’t quite make out but I guessed as, “Oh my God she’s gone, she’s gone, she’s gone.” I held her tightly, petting her hair, trying to shush her crying. I was doing everything possible to calm her down.

“Shhh, Mollycakes. It’s okay babygirl. It’s okay, honey. Talk to me.”

She didn’t talk though, just stayed in my strong arms, face buried into my T-shirt. No longer did I yearn for my soft bed... I just wanted her to be the same happy person she was at the skating rink. “Bonkers, where’d she go?” I heard her mutter to a fat black and white cat that lay lazily in the chair next to us.

“Bonkers?” I asked, raising my eyebrows.

She nodded. “My dad. He liked that word.” She wiped some of the tears away with her arm and pet the cat with her hand. “My dad..” she muttered, almost setting off into tears again.

I put an arm around her shoulder. “Hey... it’s okay, babygirl. Listen, you can stay with me until your mom gets back.”

“She’ll be back soon,” she promised.

I wasn’t so sure though. “Then you won’t stay long. Come on, I’ll help you get your stuff.”

“It’s okay, Brian. Really. I’m okay.”

I gave her that look. “Molly Riana, what did I say?”

She rolled her eyes at me, that same adorable brattiness apparent once again. Surprisingly, I was relieved to see it.

“Come on,” I said, grabbing her hand and leading myself to the back of the house, hoping she’d lead the rest of the way because I had no idea where I was going. But there was no way I could leave her in that house alone... she seemed so scared.

We stopped by the kitchen on the way to her room and she let go of my hand, moving towards the island that sat in the middle of the kitchen. She fell to her knees and opened the cabinet, sniffling a little and moving some stuff around. I walked over to see what was up just in time to see her grab a bottle of vodka.

“Hey! What are you doing!” I nearly shouted.

“It’s almost gone,” she murmured. “Would you be mad if I drank the rest?”

I found myself staring at about four shots of vodka and a twelve year old red-headed girl with such pain in her eyes. “YES I would be mad!” I snapped, taking the bottle. “You’re too young to drink, Molly.”

She sighed. “But I need it.”

I gave her that look again. “Do you need another trip across my knee?”

She shook her head, biting her lower lip.

“That’s what I thought.”

She stood up and dusted her jeans off, wiping her eyes again because they were beginning to water. I replaced the bottle and followed her to the room in the very back -- her room.

I could tell it was her room before she even opened the door... There was a green four-leaf clover chalkboard on the door that said “Everything’s gonna be all right” which was a quote from one of Molly’s favorite songs... Lullaby by Shawn Mullins. I knew this because if she wasn’t begging us to play Irish music, she was begging for Shawn Mullins. She opened the door and I was amazed at how well her room fit her. I mean, sometimes you see people’s rooms and they’re really messy when they look like a neat freak. Or they have tons of stuffed animals when they look like a big tough guy. But Molly’s room... oh man, it was everything I’d expected it to be. Clothes were thrown around everywhere, no surprise there. She had lots of books, some of them novels for class, others about Irish heritage, and some normal teenager books. Green was everywhere. I was actually surprised her sheets weren’t green. But her blanket was. It was made of green four-leaf clovers. There were posters on the wall, and cd booklets from Flogging Molly (one of her favorite Irish bands) and Shawn Mullins. And finally, there was a picture on the mirror, about as high as Molly’s face would be when standing in front of it; It was Molly and a man, with red hair and a beard, his arm around her, both of them grinning wildly. I could tell it was her father. I could tell because they had matching smiles.

“That’s my dad,” she told me and I realized that she was observing me staring at the picture.

“I figured,” I said, smiling.

She stuffed some clothes into a green backpack with different patches on it.

“I like your quilt..” I said.

“Thanks. My grandma made it for me.”

I nodded, noticing that there was an empty bottle of Bailey’s on the dresser. I picked it up.

“Don’t worry, I didn’t drink that. I just thought it was cool because it was Irish Cream.”

“Oh,” I answered, sitting it back down. “Do you drink a lot, Molly?”

She shrugged. “Not a lot. But I learned it from my mom. She drinks all the time. I figure if she drinks her problems away, maybe mine will go away, too.”

I felt my heart breaking inside once again, shattering into tiny little pieces. How could she think something like that? She was only twelve! “But, Molly..” I began.

“I know, I know.. drinking is bad. I don’t want to hear it. Hear it everyday in Drug Ed.”

I sighed, shaking my head. “You’re too young to start drinking. You won’t have a liver by the time you hit thirty..”

“I don’t care,” she muttered under her breath, not intending for me to hear. I dropped it, though.. She was hurting and now wasn’t the time to lecture about not having a liver. But the time would come, I decided. “Ready?” she asked.

“Whenever you are.”

She led me out of her room, closing her door tightly, then petting Bonkers and telling him that she was going away for a while but would be back. “And I love you bunches and bunches and bunches, Bonkers. Don’t forget that, otay? I’ll always be here for you, no matter what... except today. But I’ll be back tonight, okay? When Mamakins comes back.” She kissed him on the top of the head, giving him a final pat and then walked away, tears in her eyes.

There were tears in my eyes, too.

I didn’t really say anything as we walked to the car, and I figured that Molly was feeling too down to really carry on a conversation with me. But once we plopped down inside, she began chattering like always.

“I’m so glad it’s autumn,” she said. “I love it. I love how blue the sky looks, and I like the clouds. It’s a really emo sky because the clouds are all spread out and stuff. Ya know?”

I nodded.

“In weather like this I like to listen to gothic music, like Opeth or something. They always remind me of cold gloomy weather, and trees peering over dark roads. My dad and I used to go to the fair every October. We used to ride all of the scary rides and eat sooo much cotton candy that it made us sick. You like cotton candy?”

“Yeah, it’s good.”

“I can’t eat cotton candy anymore without thinking about him. Everytime I eat it, I end up throwing up.”

I didn’t say anything.

“The fair used to be a lot of fun. He used to try to get me on the scary rides, but I wouldn’t do it. Mom didn’t like to ride anything. She used to just watch us and take pictures. She always wanted to go and see the exhibits. Those always bored me. But they made me go anyway. I liked seeing the animals, though. Once we were headed to the exhibits and I saw a giraffee and it was sooo cute I had to feed it some carrots, and I guess I forgot to tell them what I was doing and we got lost from each other and I sat by the giraffee forever until they came running to me and Mom was crying and Dad gave me a big hug and said that I’d worried them to death. I guess I was only six or seven. That was back when Mom cared about me, when she didn’t have to drink to sleep at night.”

I kept my gaze straight ahead for fear if I turned to her, I would be thrown into tears.

“Do you drink, Brian?” she asked.

“Not really, kiddo. Never really cared for the taste.”

“Have you ever gotten drunk?”

I hesitated. “Yeah, I have.”

“I haven’t. I think it’s nasty. Everytime I try to drink, I chicken out. I guess I’m scared to get drunk because I see what happens when Mom gets drunk.”

I nodded. “It’s not all it’s cracked up to be, let me tell ya. The first time I got drunk, I got so sick. I spent the night with my head in the toilet.”

“Wow,” she murmured, and I could feel her staring at me. “That doesn’t sound fun... Do you go to school?”

“Yeah. I’m in college. It’s my last year. I get out in December.”

“Hey, we should have a party at the skating rink when you get out.”

I chuckled. “No thanks, Mollycakes. I think I’ll pass on that one.”

“Awww, why? When I get out of school I want to have a party at the skating rink. It’s my favorite place ever. I like it because I can be stupid and happy all the time. I can do that at school, too, but sometimes I get in trouble. Sometimes I get too hyper when I’m away from home.”

“Why are ya so hyper?”

“Because at home all I do is lie around with Bonkers and read and listen to music. I have to let the energy out somewhere.”

“I guess so,” I said, except I don’t think I ever had as much energy as she.

“I play volleyball at school. And softball, too. Sometimes I take the bus to the batting cages. Sometimes I go outside and run around the block until I’m so tired I can’t run anymore. I like running, though. It helps me get to sleep at night.”

“That’s much healthier than drinking.”

“I know. But I can’t run as much anymore since I started smoking...” I felt her mouth drop and she covered it with her hand, because she knew she shouldn’t have said that.

I turned towards her. “MOLLY!” I said. “Smoking!” I resisted the urge to smack her upside the head.

“I didn’t mean that!” she said.

“Then what did you mean?”

“I meant that uhm, my mom smokes..”

“You will not smoke anymore, Molly, do you hear me?”

She folded her arms. “I can do whatever I want... besides, you’re not my dad or anything.”

“But I’m your friend and smoking is dangerous and I’m not going to let you hurt yourself like that. Mark my words, Molly -- If I catch you smoking, I’ll make sure you aren’t able to sit for a week, got it?”

She didn’t answer, just looked out the window. I didn’t like the uneasy silence, and was glad she finally broke it. “Look, it helps. It calms me down sometimes.”

“Bullshit,” I muttered, hoping she didn’t hear me, though I was sure she’d heard worse profanities than that, even said them. “If you need to calm down, go for a run, go to the batting cages. Don’t smoke. That’s as bad as your mom drinking her worries away.”

I pulled into the parking lot of my apartment complex.

“I want to go home,” Molly announced, a few tears forming in her eyes.

I sighed, regretting having blown up on her like that. “I know, Mollycakes,” I muttered, putting my arm around her. “I’m sorry for snapping at you like that... I just worry about you. My Mom died with lung cancer... she smoked two packs a day. I don’t want you to end up like that.”

She nodded, wiping one of the tears away.

“Come on, babe. Let’s go inside and get some sleep. You can sleep on my bed, okay?”

She shook her head gently. “It’s okay, I’ll sleep on the couch.”

I got out of the car then opened her door for her. She took my hand like a small child and allowed me to lead her to my tiny apartment. “Things aren’t clean, and I’m sorry about that..”

“It’s okay. My room is never clean.”

I had no trouble believing that. “It’s getting a little cold..”

“I’m glad,” she said, looking up at me with her shining blue eyes. Her hair was falling down from the pigtail braids. She was so adorable.

“Me too,” I told her, unlocking the door and letting it swing open.

“Geeze, if this is your idea of ‘not clean’ I’d hate to know what my room is,” she murmured, sitting her bag down on the couch.

I picked up the bag and shut the door. “Okay, so it’s not dirty, but it could use a little cleaning,” I told her as she let go of my hand to inspect a little.

“This is a nice place.”

“Thanks,” I said, motioning for her to follow. I opened the door to the bedroom. “You can sleep on my bed, okay? It’s clean and comfy and you’re the guest, I won’t allow you to sleep on the couch.”

She opened her mouth to argue, but instead eyed the bed and finally gave in. “Okay, but you have to take me home when I wake up. Deal?”

I grinned. “Deal.”

I handed her the backpack and she just sat it down next to the bed, kicking her shoes off and climbing on my bed. I pushed the cover back for her and tucked her in, planting a kiss on her forehead. “Sleep well, Mollycakes,” I whispered and she grinned, rolling over and almost instantly falling asleep.

I, on the other hand, did not instantly fall asleep when I made it back into the living room. It wasn’t because the couch wasn’t comfortable, because believe me, it was, and even more so due to the fact that I hadn’t slept all night. I was thinking... worried. About Molly. I wasn’t sure what exactly was going on. I mean, I knew Molly pretty well, but I guess I’d never known her as well as I thought I did. Obviously she was hiding some kind of hurt from me... from everyone. And was hiding it so well because none of us ever noticed it. She always seemed so happy that it was completely and totally heartbreaking to see those precious tears stream down her face. I just wanted to make it where Molly was happy all the time... where she didn’t have to think about smoking or drinking or anything to keep her happy. Where she didn’t have to put up with her mother’s drunkenness. I wondered if there was such a place.

I fell asleep contemplating whether or not to invite Molly to stay with me for a little while, a week or two. Maybe allow her mom enough time to get on rehab or something, anything, just so the poor kiddo wouldn’t have to deal with so much stress. But I never found an answer, because sleep found me first.

When I woke, the sun was nearly set and I had actually kind of forgotten what’d happened. I think what actually jogged my memory was the low murmur of Shawn Mullins playing in my kitchen. Shawn Mullins always reminded me of Molly, thus the first thing I thought about when I woke was Molly, then remembered that she was at my house and obviously awake. That’s when I noticed the aroma of frying bacon. Weird that I would hear the music before smelling the bacon.

I got up and stumbled towards the kitchen. There was Molly, green pajama pants and a tank top, hair in a ponytail, swaying to Shawn Mullins, singing with her eyes closed, frying bacon. It took her a couple of minutes to realize that I was behind her, but when she did, she nearly jumped three feet in the air.

“Oh! Hey!” she said. “Sorry, did I wake you up with my god-awful singing?”

I giggled. “Nope, didn’t even hear you singing. And what are you doing? You’re the guest and--”

“Relax. I like cooking. I hope you don’t mind?”

I raised my eyebrows. “I mean, it’s fine... but I could’ve bought you lunch instead.”

She shook her head. “Nah, I’d rather cook.”

I nodded, plopping down at the table.

“And you were sleeping sooo well!” she giggled. “Were talking in your sleep about some girl named Marissa!”

I looked at her. “Huh?”

“Yeah!! You have a girlfriend! Her name is Marissa!” she teased.

I knew my face was flaming red, even though I had no girlfriend named Marissa. “I think you were hearing things, Molly..”

She shook her head, getting some eggs out of the fridge. “Nope, sure wasn’t. I heard, ‘Oh! Marissa! Harder!’” she said then burst into laughter.

I couldn’t help but laugh as well. “I know you’re lying there,” I said, and thought about adding a smartass comment about it, but deciding against it since she was only twelve and I shouldn’t fill her head with nasty sex thoughts yet.

“You’re right, I was just kidding. Actually, she called and left a message on your machine... It woke me up a little while ago, she was just calling to see about when you were going to work on that project or whatever.”

I nodded. “That’s cool. But she’s not my girlfriend,” I said, finally deciding to defend myself.

“Uh huh, sure, whatever,” she said, rolling her eyes and putting the bacon and eggs onto a plate, then getting biscuits out of the oven.

“Geeze, girl... you went all out on cooking stuff..”

“No problem,” she said, handing me a plate and sitting down next to me. “But you have to cook dinner.”

“Cook dinner? It’s nearly six right now! What time do you expect to eat dinner?”

She shrugged, taking a bite of her biscuit.

“Besides, we both have to get on a normal sleeping schedule... we have to go back to school on Monday.”

“Blah, school.”

We ate in silence for a little while, though I did feel a little guilty about her cooking breakfast or dinner or whatever the hell it was for me. I felt kind of bad because she was up while I was sleeping. But I didn’t let it hang over me because she seemed happy.

“So what’s on the schedule for today?” she asked.

“Nothing. I have to go to work around eight to check on things and close, and then I guess I’ll come back and try to get my sleeping pattern right. What do you want to do?”

She shrugged. “I want to go to the rink and stuff... check on Bonkers...” she paused, looking into my eyes. “Do you think my mom came back?”

I bit my lower lip. “I don’t know, Mollycakes... Do you want to call her and see?”

She shook her head. “I have this feeling, Brian..” she began, pausing a moment to take a bite of bacon so she wouldn’t cry. “I have the feeling that she isn’t coming back.”

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