His angry cadence set the tone for her frantic pace. As he berated her for her weakness in using again, she pulled her hair, desperate to find focus and next steps. She tore frantically around the house, whispering to herself, barely able to hear over his growl.
“You dumb useless bitch, if you hadn’t put that shit in your arm again, you wouldn’t even be in this mess.”
“Stop, please. I told you I’d stop.” She plead breathlessly.
After her ice cold shower, she felt slightly in control. She flushed the last of her heroin, and promised herself that she is a changed woman. Something had changed, she thought. She did not know what, but the voices were finally in unison, telling her to hurry. His anger fueled her frenetic, frazzled, frustration, but it also gave her an oddly singular focus. “The kids” she began reciting.
In the pile of her dirty, bloody belongings, she fished the address from her journal and went to her car. A calm, cool determination had overwhelmed her. For the first time in a long time, she remembered how it felt before. She remembered the woman she lost. She glanced at her track marks, and felt the urge to carve the holes away with her swiss army knife. She bandaged the wounds on her thighs and dressed. The quiet woman praised her, and professed her love. Luna felt warmth and peace, despite the cold sweat on her spine and neck.
She drove to the address, noting it was after 1Am. Smiling at the moon, she told the quiet woman it was time. The quiet woman agreed, and the angry man relented, “I’ve been waiting for you.” She sped to the house, but parked around a corner to avoid being seen too easily. She climbed over the perfect white picket fence, and crept into their basement, just as she had done at her home. Breaking and entering was one of her new specialties. Her sinewy body, though emaciated from heroin and neglect, was still strong and flexible. She had no weapon, but it wasn’t necessary.
She found the kids bedrooms first, and ensured they were asleep. Her heart exploded at the sight of them, not sure how long it had even been. It was rare she knew time, anymore. Her memories are as real as the present, and her shifts give her no sense of when or reality. She shut their doors, and went into their foster parent’s bedroom. The father was drunk, asleep, and snoring. The mother was curled in a fetal position, with a fresh bruised lump rising. She felt the rage come over her as fire to brush. When she was healthy, domestic violence was her charity of choice. She helped countless women leave their abusive husbands, and gave them education and tools to help them start new lives. The pain these women had endured were one of her most frequent nightmares.
She woke the woman first. She embraced her gently and began kissing her forehead, and caressing her neck and shoulders. The woman’s eyes opened in surprise and love. Luna began whispering in her ear, as she licked her earlobe and kissed her neck. “This is not your life, my sweetness. This is not for you, and you must fix this right away.” The woman’s bright eyes hardened as the blank expression overtook. The woman gave her compliance, and turned to the drunken husband. Luna saw the grin that had been hidden in bruises and tears erupt on the woman’s face. “Fuck you, pig.” she whispered, as she grabbed a stone angel from her nightstand. The woman hoisted it, and brought it down on his forehead with years of rage-filled force behind it, knocking his head to the side, and caving his forehead in. Blood splattered on her face, and the woman laughed. Luna whispered, “I love you darling, go.” and the woman brought the statue down 3 more times on his temple. He was so drunk, he never woke, as she enmeshed his skull with the pillow. His head was less of a man and more bone filled jelly. Luna had her fill of the gore, and the woman was covered in filth and blood, as his corpse evacuated their last remnants of his life and the stench overwhelmed.
Luna rose and left the woman to her violence, instructing her to shower then set the house on fire after she left. She crept in to her daughters’ room, and roused them from their sleep. Her oldest was the one who had suffered from the drunk’s busy fingers, the younger had only yet suffered from beatings as a result of “too much fucking talking”. Her youngest, like the Foster mother, had a bruise mottling her cheek. Her oldest began tugging on her hair and rocking, and Luna felt her pain like a tsunami through her heart.
“It’s over babies, it’s over. I’m so sorry, Mommy is so sorry.” Seeing them, she remembered that her son was dead. She forgot again. During a blackout, she had attempted to give him a bath, and he drowned. Tears sprung from her eyes immediately, silently cursing how broken she is. How could she ever explain that she is more dangerous sober? Her blackout was not caused by alcohol or heroin, she stopped breathing again when the voices started yelling and arguing. The angry man had been screaming at her to stop fighting him and obey, and she had lost her body again. As she lost her body, she lost her baby. It was after that incident, she realized if she stabbed herself, she could shock herself to breathe, but nothing stopped the shifts and lost time. The alcohol, then heroin had rendered her more immobile and less susceptible to commands. After he had died, the state took her daughters and put them with the perverted drunken pig. Looking at the girls, she thinks it must have been 2 years ago, but she has no idea.
The clock on the nightstand now read 3:30 AM, and Luna knew they had to go. She hurried them to get dressed and pack as much as they could. As she set them to work, she raced to the kitchen, and began pilfering as much food as she could. The quiet woman told her to go to the living room, and look in the china cabinet. In there, Luna found a small firebox. There was a stack of hundred dollar bills, a 9mm, fake IDs and passports, and cocaine. There were credit cards in various names – female and male. She snatched everything and grinned. “Deus ex machina,” the angry man chuckled. The little boy began giggling and repeating “Lacy! Laurie! Lacy! Laurie!” Luna had as much food as she could carry, and enough money to take them wherever they could imagine.
The girls each had two large bags stuffed. She ensured they each had their teddy bears, a coloring book, markers, and blankets. The mother exited the bathroom and came into the hallway, spying Luna and the girls. “Please, please…don’t leave without me,” she begged. Luna thought, and decided this would be best for all of them. “Get everything you need, but hurry up. I’m going to my car, when I come back, I want smoke.Do you understand me?”
Luna took Laurie and Lacy, and brought them to her car. They piled everything into the trunk, as the girls celebrated their Mommy taking them away. Awake, now, the girls whispered, “Mommy! Are you back? Is it you?” Luna kissed them desperately, “I will not go away anymore, no matter what.” She paused, “How old are you?”
Laurie did not seem puzzled, as the oldest, she saw her mother’s behavior most. “Mommy, I’m 10. Lacy is 5.” her eyes turned down, as she said sadly, “Lucas would have been 2.” Luna started crying. “Laurie, how long as it been???”
Laurie looked puzzled, “Mommy, you come talk to me every night. I saw you last night! I knew you were coming tonight, you said you would.” Luna was baffled, “Laurie, when did you go to this house?”
“Oh, sorry Mommy, I was 8 and Lacy was 4.”
“Thank you baby girl. Get in, get buckled, what is her name, anyway?”
“Angeline, she is nice, Mommy. She makes us cookies, and she would fight with…Dan…” Luna stopped her, “Don’t worry about him anymore baby, he’s gone.” She kissed her daughters’ heads, closing her eyes, and pulling as many dark memories as she could with her, “try to rest, babies”
Luna headed to the house to get Angeline, and she could smell the smoke. Angeline walked out, shoulders squared, with a large suitcase and a grin. She dropped the suitcase and hugged Luna fiercely. Luna nodded, and led her to the car. She stuffed the suitcase between the carseats, and drove away. They passed the house now engulfed in flames as a window exploded. “Angeline, you have two choices. You either died in that fire, and you are someone else. Or, you are a mournful widow who had spent the night with the girls at a hotel after a fight with your husband, and you are collecting insurance money.”
Angeline laughed. “Call me Amber.” The girls chuckled sleepily in the backseat. Luna heard Lacey whisper “Mommy’s back, she’s really back!”
“We’re just getting started baby girl.” as Luna forced herself to ignore the tremble in her hands. The quiet woman told her to be strong, but the angry man warned her to be cautious. She told them both they had to stay quiet more and tell the others to stop, too. They agreed, and Luna felt weak, but quiet.
She asked Amber where they should go. “Dan owns a house in the mountains. No one knows about it. It’s where he’d do most of his deals. It is safe.” Luna turned onto the interstate and headed north. The sky was growing lighter, as the sun was beginning its ascent. She did not know her full moon could turn out this way, and she had never believed she could come through. She still could not remember what happened before she awoke naked, but something changed. She ensured they had nothing but green lights as they drove, as she was in a hurry to be with her girls, and she wanted to get more familiar with her new companion. She already felt deep love toward Amber. She had forgotten how good love felt.
As the mountains rose in the horizon, and the inky black of the sky transformed into soft blue, Luna felt certain that her blackouts would be changing. “Not so fast,” he laughed “You don’t even know who the fuck you are or what the fuck you are doing. You better hope she can handle your ass. You wrote a hell of a check tonight.” The little boy chimed in, “Where’s Daddy?”, and Luna had to pull over to vomit. Amber slid into the driver’s seat, and Luna sunk into sleep – not knowing if a dream or nightmare was awaiting.