there is a road that will lead you home, a broken path that’s growing old
He could hear her from all the way down the hall. His brothers were sleeping, but he was still awake and listening. He stepped closer, his bare feet cold on the wood floor. Her cries were broken and painful with every passing moment and growing louder.
Dylan wasn’t sure if he would make it worse, but he had to talk to her. He’d had his speech rehearsed and replaying in his head so many times it was like a radio was shoved in with his brain. Regardless of his nervousness, he rapped his knuckles a few times on the door.
Suddenly there was only silence so loud he almost questioned if he’d imagined it. He was about to retreat back to his room, when the door opened and his mom stood in the doorway, eyes bloodshot and wet.
“Mom?” he asked. “Can we talk?”
She silently stepped aside as he walked into her room to see everything so pristinely clean and organized. She always cleaned when she was upset. He leaned against her dresser and buried his hands in his sweatshirt pockets trying to get them to stop shaking.
She moved back to her bed sitting down and wiping her eyes with a tissue, “What do you want?”
“I just wanted-” he started, but everything he’d thought to say left his mind. All he could feel was the sadness in his lungs making it difficult to breathe. “I was protecting you. If he was still here, you’d be dead by now.”
“Oh sweetie,” she gestured for him to sit next to her. He hesitated, but the gentleness in her voice drew him in. Her eyes were so kind and soft, he barley recognized her. She looked like she might forgive him. Instead, she put her hand on his and said, “I died the day I married him.”
He drew back at her words, “Then why are you crying? You’re free, aren’t you?”
“Thanks to you,” she smiled, touching his cheek. “You made the choice I couldn’t.”
“You think what I did was a choice?” he asked, feeling the threat of tears well up behind his eyes and a pain in his throat. “It was an accident. I was trying to help you.”
“I think it was calculated, yes, and God sees that.”
“What are you saying?” he demanded and grabbed her hand to shove it away from him. He saw that familiar hatred flash behind her eyes.
“I’m saying that God knows what you’ve done,” she said viciously and all of the sudden he recognized her again. He stood up, the shaking spreading from his fingers through his entire body. Then she started screaming. Her voice was shrill and one of the most terrifying sounds he’d heard. “You’re a murderer!”
“Shut up!” he shouted back at her as she started swinging her fists, clocking him only a few times before he put his hands up to stop her. He managed to lock her wrists and shoved her back on the door.
“Murderer!” she screamed in his face, her spit covering him.
“Stop it!” Dylan begged until her strength left and she was crying again. He let her go as her head dropped into her hands. He gently moved her back to the bed to help her lie down.
“You killed him, Dylan,” she whispered without looking at him and hit his hands away. He covered her with a blanket. “Get out of my house.”
Without a word, he walked back down the hall to his room where his bags were already packed.