I was fourteen when my Aunt Missy killed herself. It was the last day of June in Alabama when a police car pulled up to our new house, which was still under construction. I remember how hot those 2×4’s were, as they baked in the sun. Per the officer’s instructions, we loaded up in the minivan and drove down the hill to the fire station where my dad worked, so Mom could call her parents. Very few people had cell phones yet, and my Momma wasn’t one of them. I’ll never forget the way she screamed, “My sister!” as she dropped the grey receiver and it swung out and slammed back against the concrete wall, there in the lobby of Fire Station #1.
I was twelve when my mom killed herself. My parents were divorced. My dad was remarried and lived nearby. My older brother lived in his own apartment, so it was just me and my mom making our way.
She sometimes left me home alone when she went out drinking. I begged her to stay home, but she would only promise to be home by a certain time. My neediness was useless to change anything.
I slept at my dad’s house the night my mom died. More accurately, I moved in. A few blocks were all that separated the houses—a slight but infinite distance. This time the sleepover wouldn’t end. When the sun rose I wouldn’t have a home to return to. Home as I knew it had vanished.