By: Annie Barry

She stood in front of a mirror
Clean and sober thinking about how she feels taller than her own reflection

Then she took an injection

She started as
A PTA mom perfect in her Johnson County way
Carrying around a cleanse smoothie everywhere she goes
She spikes her smoothie but nobody knows
Walking around in her workout clothes in the AM
Ripped panty hose in the PM
But her short skirt covers those holes
Talkin’ about bank rolls
And relationship goals

While her kids sit at home with a nanny asking where’s mommy

Stumbling home through a portal 
called a broken trim, paint chipped doorway the next morning 
and takes her kids to the park so she can sneak a smoke
A pack a day gonna make her broke

He was 5 years old on the playground yelling “watch mommy watch”
She looks up at the boy who spoke
She hardly recognizes him anymore
5 years old she doesn’t remember his middle name anymore

5 years later
Now she’s in AA
Got a
Mental monologue going
Thinking, “okay okay pretend for a day just say you’re sober”
She takes a breath
“Hi I’m Katherine”
Exhales as she talks, almost like a sigh
Her breath reeked of the mixed drink she had earlier
A mix between vodka and desperation
Drowning her kids in deprivation

Her kids are noticing
She’s becoming menacing

Is she
Hungover or just forgetful

She’s not a role model but she pretends to be a model as she
Struts down the crosswalk like a catwalk
Delusional and delirious
Detrimental to her kids’ health
He doesn’t know his real dad’s name but
He knows how to roll a blunt because mommy can’t do that while she’s driving
She’s driving her kid insane
He’s growing up now knowing that
His friends’ houses don’t have bloodstains in every doorway and normal people don’t take codeine when they’re not in pain
And sustaining a house, maintaining a family is not typically the job of a 
10 year old boy
And raising your baby sister who might not even be your sister is not what 
most 10 year old boys do

A 10 year old boy
Stopped asking his mom which man in the house is his dad
He doesn’t sleep because
Mom is still baked
Boy is half awake with studying because
Everything is at stake
Sister cries
He lies there
Debating existential crises of 25 year old boys even though he’s only a 10 year old boy
Does he do school work
Does he get up and do the housework
Does he care for his baby sister who’s crying like she’s hurt
But he knows
She isn’t quite hurt yet
She doesn’t know yet
Her mind can’t develop memories yet
So she isn’t truly as dead as him yet

He craves an end to the madness
Boy is beat down and broken beyond brutal under eye baggage
Bandaids can’t bind this
Edging closer to the edge of life
Just before he steps off the ledge
His brain breathes
Puts down the knife
1 year old baby sister’s life

Boy grows up

17 years old watching his mother break the bathroom mirror because she doesn’t like the reflection anymore
He’s yelling “stop Katherine stop”
Refusing to call his mother mom

Angry mother yells “Anthony – Johnson! Don’t talk to your mother like that”

“What’s my middle name” he asks
Exhaling passionate breath like poisonous gas

The mother who went from PTA to AA to HEY boy hand me that bottle

Boy is 23 years old walking home from work
Walks past a play park
PTSD pokes his ears
At the sound of a child yelling
“Watch mommy watch”