TITLE: Facing Fire
GENRE: YA Contemporary
I’m positive Mom wanted me to find her body. I’d been taking care of us both for so many years she trusted I’d know how to handle things. She’d say, “Arlie, if something ever happens to me, don’t let the police or ambulance boys find me in a compromising position.” Translation: flush any remaining drugs down the toilet, make sure she had on clean panties and tidy up the motel room. These instructions were rote by the time I carried them out two weeks ago.
Jane, my court-appointed therapist, asked what I thought of my mom’s instructions and if I believed her suicide was selfish. I didn’t think she killed herself but I hadn’t found the words to convey the doubts in my gut.
“Arlie, you’re not paying attention.”
I appreciated that Jane didn’t use a soothing, sing-song therapist tone with me, the type designed to make a person feel cared about or special in some backhanded way. Instead, she took a ‘no bullshit’ approach. No one in my life had done so before and it was why I trusted her.
“Well, are you adjusting?”
“To high school? It’s only been a week.”
I sat cross-legged on the overstuffed loveseat, the one spot in Jane’s office where I could stare out the window. When we first met, I’d avoided looking directly at her. She probably thought I was embarrassed by what had happened to my face and didn’t want her to stare at it.