The Death of Lila Jane(4)

By: Teresa Mummert



“Okay, Yoda,” I grumbled as I stood, my stomach growling as I caught a whiff of the food in his hand.

“Have yourself a little gout[14]. Tell me whatcha’ think.”

“I don’t know if my stomach can handle creole[15] anymore,” I warned.

“Shut yo’ mouth. This here Cajun, not ‘dat city food. You have been gone too long, brah[16]. But don’t worry, ya’ because home is a state of mind. You think all those sent runnin’ after the hurricane forgot ‘day roots? You just need to water ‘dem. Lache pas la patate[17].”

“I have no freaking clue what that means, but I’ll try your food if it will get you to stop talking.” I took the plate with thanks and followed him back to the large open room to sit on the couch. I would never admit it out loud, but as he spoke the haze that enveloped his words began to lift and slowly I was starting to remember what it all meant. Picking up the remote, he clicked on the television before shoveling a spoonful of gratin[18] into his mouth. His eyes went unfocused as the announcer rattled off the upcoming game schedule for the Saints that would begin playing in September.

“Who dat,” He called out to no one in particular in support of his team. I’d never understood the fascination with watching other people play sports on TV.

Cutting into my sausage, I took a big bite of the rice and meat concoction, wondering if this is where I will be when I hit thirty years old, alone and living vicariously through someone else's joy. “This is good. Thanks.”

“Yeah you right.[19]”

I watched him intently, the ghost of Cajun Christmas future, lonely and broken as he went through the motions of life. This was what I’d had to look forward to. Daven had let life beat him down and now he just played dead, waiting for the inevitable.





TWO


LILA JANE




August 5, 2015

My face broke the surface of the water and I gasped as it cascaded off my skin and into the tub below. I wished I could hold my breath longer, drowning out all of the sounds around me. In the distance, I could hear the muffled voices of the television, barely covering the clipped tone of my mother as she rattled off the laundry list of things that bothered her already this morning. My father grunted and agreed as his heavy footsteps trudged across the second floor of our home as he prepared for work. He couldn’t get out of the house fast enough and his nights had been later and later.

I’d spent my morning in an Adderall-induced tunnel vision Googling the muscle car that still sat across the street in the neighbor’s driveway, unmoved since yesterday afternoon. It had showed up three months ago. Three long months of me watching this boy out of my window as he starred in my own personal reality show.

A guy who owns a car like that would know a lot about it. Taunt Magazine says that if you want to get a guy’s attention, you have to show interest in the things they like. It seemed a little ridiculous that I’d have to go out of my way to get his attention but what did I know? I’d never had a boy look at me like I was anything but annoying. And for the first time, I wanted one of them too.

I pulled the plug from the bottom of the porcelain claw foot tub and stood as water sloshed out onto the fuzzy gray rug just outside. Ringing my long hair in my fists, I stepped onto the mat, curling my toes into the softness as my eyes danced over my thin frame in the mirror. My body had changed a lot over the last year, but I still looked younger than I liked. My chest was small and asymmetrical, my belly still had a pooch that jutted out between my widened hips, from all of the processed food I’d eaten during the summer when I chose to stay inside and read instead of being active and social. My skin was translucent from the lack of sunshine causing dark circles to mark the underside of my eyes.

I knew it was normal to feel insecure, but I’d never actually spent time assessing my faults before today and I already didn’t like these side effects of having a crush.

Popping open the medicine cabinet, I grabbed one of the orange bottles labeled with my mother’s name and removed the cap, dumping a Diazepam into my palm. I avoided taking these on most occasions even though my mom used them as a cure-all. But just the thought of trying to make small talk with the mystery boy had my stomach twisted in knots and nowadays, that was cause to medicate, sedate, and take away any feeling. I repeated the process with my Zoloft, a prescription I’d been taking since the beginning of summer. I’m not sure if it actually did anything, but I certainly noticed if I missed a dose because it caused my brain to zap itself in a self-imposed shock therapy.

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