“I’m Margaret, as I’m sure you know that already. I’ve had a chance to speak with Jan and she has forwarded me notes she felt would be beneficial for us. I want you to know I am aware of your case and your relationship with Jan, she was your therapist for quite some time. I understand how difficult this must be for you... to go from her to a complete stranger, but I assure you, I am going to do my very best in helping you.” she tried to assure in what Chancey felt half good intention wrapped in honesty and half a shamble of words; almost as if Margaret were reassuring her own self.
Chancey had done this too many times to know they weren’t going to make much progress today, if any. It was more of a general “interview process”. She was being interviewed to see if she fit into Margaret’s mold of clients. She knew she didn’t.
She never did.
There was too much.
Part of her wanted to be vague, as she felt she were merely wasting her time, yet there was an ever so slightly small piece that was willing to entertain Margaret and try.
“So, let’s get started. Tell me something about yourself. Tell me a story. Any story about yourself and that’s where we’ll begin.” Margaret enthused in an annoying encouragement of chippery.
“Ha.” Chancey thought to herself as she rolled her eyes and looked away, back to the open window. “A story?” she prissed in the back of her mind. “What the fuck. What the fuck kind of story...” she had hundreds of them but not one of them she wanted to discuss.
She had no desire to start anything they wouldn’t have time to finish. Where would she start... she continued to debate with herself.
It was obvious to Margaret she was struggling; blatantly shaking her head as if arguing with someone and beginning to feel humiliated.
Generally, Margaret would begin a session by asking a more specific question, directing the course; however, this time, she was open, allowing Chancey to choose the course. After a few moments of silence, Chancey embraced her conscience and agreed to try.
“I had a dream once.” she began as she slouched over and supported the weight of her body by placing her elbows on her knees and cupping her face inside her hands. “It was a clear, beautiful summer afternoon. I was standing in a meadow, the sky was sprayed with brilliant shades of pink and orange; and for a split second, I swear I could smell peace.
I was about nine years old. I never saw my face but I could see the back of my frame.
My hair was all the way down my back and golden curls were sweeping across my shoulders as the breeze wove through them during the cool of the sunset.
My cousins were running around, climbing an old oak tree in the middle of a field outside my grandparent’s house in Florida.
My dress was white, sprinkled with little blue daisies and garnished with cotton lace, handmade by my great grandmother, I remembered that dress and I remember laughing as I ran through the knee-high grass trying to catch up. The sun was shining through the branches and we were racing to see who could reach the top first. Branch by branch we giggled; playfully tagging each other as we climbed higher and higher. I stood gazing out into the fields as my grandmother called us in for dinner.”
Not knowing where Chancey was going by telling her a dream instead of a story, Margaret adjusted her position in her chair to a more comfortable and interested stature. Her movement almost relaxed Chancey with affirmation of her attention and she continued; closing her eyes to draw every detail she could.
”Exceeding my grasp, I fell and broke every bone in my body. When I woke up from surgery, my entire body was wrapped in a white-plastered cast.
I looked like a mummy bandaged from head to toe.
My face was bound, but I was able to open my eyes. I had seen this room before. I was lying in my own bed, unable to move, when my surroundings came into focus. My legs were hanging in giant slings from the ceiling, like a scene from a war movie. As my eyes wandered around my room, a feeling of stillness came over me as I sensed her standing next to me. The room was dark, but I could make out her shadowed face.
She was wearing a nurse’s hat from what looked like a uniform worn in the classic black and white films. I knew exactly who she was; I recognized her smile from the picture I have of her.
It’s the only thing that reminds me of what she looks like, and it’s all I have to appreciate her features.
She looked exactly how I pictured she would.
Her hair was wavy, soft, and brown. Her eyelashes were perfectly curled with rosy cheeks comforting enough to make me want to sit up and kiss them. She smelled of magnolias and clean linens; she smelled like home and warm hugs.
I closed my eyes in disbelief as I could feel them starting to fill with wishful tears realizing I had to be dreaming.
I could feel the warmth of her hand graze the side of my cheek in the most sincere touch of comfort. Her fingertips smelled of Misty 100’s and her silky skin was as soft as fresh sheets.
I opened my eyes, with a tear tracing its way down my temple; she wiped it away, kneeling down to whisper in my ear. She was the only one in my room and when our eyes met she said,
“Come on, you wanna tell everyone I’m back?”
I knew what her voice sounded like from the few times I had seen my parent’s wedding video. It was cheerful and bubbly, like mine.
Her eyes were a wild forest green and she smiled with her entire face.
People used to compliment me by telling me the same, but I never knew what that meant until I saw her smile.
When she smiled her face lifted, happiness rayed like sunshine, one couldn’t possibly see her smile and not smile back.
My dream skipped to the next scene.
Sitting in a wheelchair, I wasn’t bandaged anymore. I had full control over my limbs and I was wearing a green and beige striped hospital gown.
She was wheeling me out of my room, down the hall and into a room covered in chairs and sofas. To my amazement, my whole family was in the waiting room.
This was a big deal, because back then my life was a game, like tug of war: My father against my mother’s family, I filled in as the rope. But this time, they were all there…together… peacefully … in one room, for the first time in my life.
When the door opened for me to enter, silence followed by a wave of cheering soared through the air; like I was entering my surprise birthday party. Each member of my family shifting their full attention towards me, standing to their feet, and forming a line to display their affections on my recovery.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been torn between both sides of my family. That meant two holidays, two birthdays, and two different lives.
Every other weekend I was a completely different person with each side of my family.
When I was with my father, I hated her family. I looked at them like they were outlaws for the way they treated him after her death. When I was with them, I was all they had left of her and they were the same for me. I was sad… I was lonely…and I missed her.
As my dream capered to the last scene, we were riding in a car; just the two of us.
I don’t know the make or model and I had no idea where we were going, but none of that mattered.
The only thing that mattered was being in her presence.
The sun was setting and the windows were down as we drove through a long empty highway road.
I stared out the passenger side as she drove; inhaling her cigarette in hand.
I could feel a breeze as the wind rustled through the fall leaves in front of us.
Calm filled my body as I trusted her to drive me wherever she wanted to take me.
We turned down an old dirt road and I could hear the gravel beneath the tires as we pulled into the driveway of an abandoned house. It looked like someone began to build it but never finished. The wood was whitewashed and the windows were perfectly in tact.
There was no noise, no music on the radio. No sound of the bustling leaves waving at me from the branches as the breeze continued to sing.
There was only silence.
I had prayed for this moment every single night for as long as I can remember.
I have longed to see her face in my dreams; feel her hold me during my most intimate of loneliness.
And there she was.
Sitting in the car I turned to her, staring at her profile; it was like looking at myself in a mirror. She was so real, so vivid. I wanted to touch her, hug her….. But I couldn’t.
My face felt like a volcanic fever and I grew an aching in the pit of my stomach.
Instantly, I started whimpering because I understood that I would eventually wake up.
My heart started to feel as if I were mourning her death, all over again.
I could feel my body shake and quiver like I was in a nightmare, but I didn’t want to stop dreaming.
My mind became conscious, and I knew if I had one thing that I could say to my mother… one question I’d been craving the answer to… it would be:
“Momma, what happened?”
My emotions started to crumble and I could barely make myself utter the words without choking up. I could sense her hesitation as she placed the car into park. She took a deep breath and her eyes squinted with comforting emotion.
She turned, beaming back at me with her brilliant white smile, and answered,
“I don’t remember”.
So calm, so nonchalant.
It was almost like she didn’t want me to know.
Like the thought of me knowing was too much for her to handle, too much for her to bare.
She answered like she had been practicing to lie to me for 26 years, certain that would be the only question I would ask, like it was no big deal at all; brushing it off as if it didn’t even matter.” She finished with a bitter inappreciation, almost flinging herself back in her chair.
Her eyes began to fill and tears streamed from them, mimicking the rain on the glass of the window beside her. Margaret sat quietly as Chancey resentfully wiped her tears and forced herself to pull herself back together; making sure to allow Chancey the opportunity of anything else she wanted to share but after a few seconds of unintentionally awkward silence she realized it was her turn to further the conversation.
“Thank you for sharing such a vulnerable experience with me, that was very detailed. Very descriptive and obviously very meaningful to you.”
“Yeh”, Chancey agreed humbly.
“I’ve never told anyone about that dream. Not even Jan.”
Slightly taken back that Chancey chose to share something like that with her and not Jan, she began to relax her own self and try to adventure what else Chancey may be willing to share.
“So your mom,” Margaret (fully aware of the story) pried Chancey to elaborate, “...died when you were just a baby... Do you know what happened?”
“She was murdered.” Chancey answered with a harsh exhale.
“I see.” Margaret ushered almost compassionately. “Can you tell me about it? Do you know who’s responsible or what happened?”
“No.” Chancey stated with a sniff continuing to compose herself.
“I finally got the nerve to talk to a detective about it.
The case is so old now, there isn’t much sense to it left.
There wasn’t much sense to it to begin with.
There’s holes in so many places through the line of events that there is a piece missing. I know the layout of the trailer, it was a single wide, posted inside my grandparent’s trailer park.
They weren’t but a couple hundred feet away.
After that, there’s dozens of sides I could tell you.
Twenty different perspectives.
That’s been my whole life; that’s all I’ve known.
I question everything about everyone.
Everything has a second and third guess.
Theory after theory, blame and anxiety.
Consuming me. And trying to figure out why.
What in the entire world did she do to deserve that? That’s what I want to know.
People tell me, constantly, I 'look just like her', I 'have her mannerisms and her personality'.
If I’m anything like my mother, I want to know what she did that has so awful.
I’ve hurt a lot of people. I’ve affected a lot of people’s lives. But i’ve never done anything to deserve to be killed. No one deserves to be killed. Especially that way.
My mother is dead.
She didn’t get really sick or die from cancer.
She wasn’t in a car accident or hit by a drunk driver.
My mother was murdered.
She wasn’t shot or stabbed, she wasn’t strangled or suffocated.
She was beaten to death.
There wasn’t a random burglary; nothing but a picture was taken.
They’re nowhere closer to solving it now than they were then. It’s coming on 30 years.
And I’m not crazy for pretending its not real.
Because every second I realize this is my life, I lose a minute of my happiness. A happiness I’ve worked so hard to claim.” she pronounced through the spit webs that wove her lips shut, trying their last strength to keep her sealed emotions secret.
“I want it off my dad. I know he didn’t do it. I believe in my whole heart he didn’t do it.
He couldn’t have.
I’ve never seen him lift a finger at a woman. He used to lock himself in his truck and cry after he spanked us.
I don’t believe he’s capable of it.
I don’t believe a person capable of doing something so heinous would be able to fully get away with it, scotch free.
There is no way that he could live with himself for this long without displaying to me he would ever hurt me.
How could he be so gentle?
He is so loving and selfless.
How could he look at me in my face every day when I look just like my mother.
You would think that someone who did that would have horrible relationships with people; distrusting. One would also be untrustworthy.
That’s an awful hard secret to keep.
Odds are, they’d have a piece of shit life.
Anger issues. Rage. Jealousy. Greed.
You couldn’t live with yourself.
Those things rise their ugly little heads after a while.
We would have seen signs by now. That’s not him.
That is the absolute farthest thing.
That’s my dad.
He raised me. He’s taught me everything I know about lots of things... He took me on my first date.
If I’ve ever need it, he never says no. If he can’t do it all, he’ll do as much as he absolutely can. He fought for me.
Gave me a great life... the best he could.
The greatest man I’ve ever known.
There is nothing in this entire world he can’t do. And if he doesn’t know how to do it, he’ll figure it out. He’s the most selfless person I’ve ever met.
He’s loving and patient.
He’s extremely smart. Intelligent. Every thing you could ever ask for in a husband and dad, truly.
I don’t even care anymore.
I really don’t.
Nothing is going to change anything about my life.
The ripples have settled and we are where we are in our lives; we just want closure.
And I want to know: What.
What was the purpose in you doing that?
What in the world did she do that made you that mad?” she issued.
“Probably nothing.” confirmed Margaret, “You know what I mean.... What does anybody do to get killed? You have to do something horrific to get the death penalty; make the punishment fit the crime.”
“I just want some type of relief", Chancey confessed. "I can’t imagine. I wouldn’t care, honest to God, if he got one year in prison.
I would not care; I wouldn’t.
It’s not going to do absolutely anything for absolutely anybody.
No amount of justice is going to take away the pain that this has caused us for the last 30 years of not knowing, and having no justice.
Nothing is ever going to fill that void and no one is ever going to understand.
I just want to know at this point.
I just want answers.
Just tell me what happened so I can get over it.
Tell me what happened so I can get closure.
I’ve forgiven you at this point.
I’ve accepted that this is... She’s gone.
I’ve come to grips with it.
This is how it is, this is all I’ve ever known.
Nothing is going to change and she’s not going to come busting through that door to find me, beaming: “HEY GUYS, I’M BACK” because she came to her senses, after faking this whole thing, to scoop me up because she’s finally ready to be a mom, putting her exotic adventurous days behind her; as I used to hope and imagine she would.
THAT’S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.
And I’ve... For years, made myself believe that.
I don’t ever accept it.
You know... because... it consumes me.
Just how... angry it makes me.”
“It’s not going to change the fact she’s dead. No matter what..” Margaret reminded her, “As time goes on... people get ‘rose colored glasses’ towards the dead. They kind of... forget. Like getting back together after a breakup... you forget all the bad things... you only remember the good. That’s what your mind wants to retain.
I’m sure she wasn’t guiltless.
I’m sure a lot of people made bad decisions, your mom made bad decisions too. Of course you’re going to find out a lot of things about her...but I think a lot of things you don’t already know....
They won’t really bother you.
That’s your mom.
No matter what you find out it’s not going to change anything. It’s not going to change the fact someone killed her.
No matter what she did; it doesn’t matter.
It wasn’t her fault she’s dead. No matter what.
No matter the circumstance, no one deserves to get killed.
Whether she’s working it on the corner of the trailer park every Saturday night; and I’m not saying she was, I’m just saying. Whether she was or not, she didn’t deserve to get killed. So she’s working it one night and she meets the wrong person, that doesn’t mean she deserves to get killed.
So no matter what bad things come out about her, she’s your mom.
You’re going to love her no matter what; and I feel like you already know there’s things that you don’t know... of course. There’s things about me that my mother doesn’t know; we keep things from people. Especially the things that we’re most ashamed of. So, who cares if you find out some things that are perhaps difficult to learn... hey, it lets you know more about her.
What can you do about it now? Nothing... you own it, ‘Yep... she sure did.... and here we are...’.” Margaret supported.
Reaching for a Kleenex out of the box Margaret served her, she blotted her waterproof mascara and continued.
“I would like for that piece of my anxiety to stand up.” she paused gathering the words to display her emotion,
“....I ...can’t imagine how much weight that would be..... lifted off me."
she broke off as she shook her head, “.. I just want to know.”
Trying to gather herself from cracking, she smiled to explain:
“It’s like.... so frustrating.
It’s right there, it’s so close and I just don’t understand.
It’s like you’re on this treadmill and you’re just running and running and running and running and running and you see that trophy is right there,
that exotic vacation... or what ever...
is RIGHT there...
you just can’t get to it, because you’re not going anywhere...
no matter how hard or how fast you run....
you can't reach it... because you never really get anywhere...
That’s how it feels....
... and i’m just so sick of running.
I’m so tired of running.
It’s repetitive... and i’m exhausted. “