By: Ally Heisdorffer

“It’s your turn,” Addison grumbled, her voice muffled by the pillow she was planted into. Her eyes were crusted with sleep and she shifted her head over a little to avoid the drool puddle she had accumulated during the night. This bed was far from being as comfortable as the one in her flat on the Upper East side of Manhattan, but it would have to do for the time being.

“Addy, you’re totally useless,” Noah responded. His tone was sharp, like the ends of those cutting knives kept out of reach in the upper shelves of the kitchen downstairs. He often contemplated stabbing his mother in her sleep while he chopped vegetables for his stir-fry, but he kept this detail to himself.

It had gone on like this for two months now. Every morning at six, Addison and Noah Janish would take turns moving their 57-year-old mother to avoid bedsores. They would give Ms. Janish a drink, then try to slip out back to the comfort and warmth of their own beds, but never with any luck. Ms. Janish would insist she was now awake and, please, have a seat and visit.

Both Noah and Addison were more devastated by the fact that they were forced to leave their comfortable and leisurely lifestyles for their negligent mother rather than the fact that the cancer they found in her left breast had metastasized beyond the point of being able to be cured. In Noah’s opinion, the idea that his mother may have no more than one year left on her biological clock was like tasting ice cream for the first time; smooth and creamy, sweet and satisfying.

After the doctors mandated Ms. Janish to be bedridden for the remainder of her life, Addison felt the moral obligation to return to her small home town in Iowa and make an effort to make her mother’s slow and painful death just a little more peaceful, but these early mornings were killer. Now she was only wishing to return to her two bedroom, spacious flat with hardwood floors, a large dining area, and spa-style bathtub. Instead of waking up to bustling streets and steaming Starbucks, she heard a stinging silence. There was a gracious view of corn out her bedroom window as well as the elderly neighbor’s undergarments swaying on the clothesline.

Noah, too, felt extreme disappointment with his current surroundings. It was difficult enough to leave his lucrative job in San Francisco, but to have to take care of the mother who never bothered to take care of him was an almost unbearable task. He longed for the seclusion of his previous lifestyle. He hated his family, but hated being with them even more.

“Addy! Get up!” Noah yelled as he pulled the comforter off his half-asleep sister in an attempt to rouse her.

“Damn it Noah! Fine, I’m up. I’m up.”

Addison sat up, groggily. Her hair stood up on end and her eyelids were working against gravity to lift open. She stumbled out the doorway and down the hall to her mother who was laying wide awake, wondering if this would be the day she would finally muster up enough courage to explain why she had abandoned them all those years ago.