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A Thursday Evening
A Story About  a Mother,
a Son, and a Monkey

  6, 20 ...  The circle goes round and round ...

 He is 6, hunched in a thin coat, walking into the December wind with his head hung and his hands in his pockets, his mittens lost.

He is 20, hunched in a thin coat. He is taking small steps to stay steady on the December ice. I am trying to offer him help, but he runs across the street to avoid me.  Then he walks. He looks back and sees I am still there so he runs again.  Walks.  Runs. He has his hands in his pockets because he lost his gloves.

The 6-year-old is lost, trying to find home.  The 20-year-old is lost, running away from it.

I, the mom, am outside and terrified.  Where will he sleep tonight? Where is he now?

My 6-year-old is outside and needs me -- how can I help him find me? My 20-year-old is outside and needs me -- how can I help hin find me when I am the one he thinks he needs to run away from?  I can help the 6-year-old.  I cannot help the 20-year-old. How the hell can that be true?

The young man over there on the west side of the street, the one hunched against the December wind, is both.  6 and 20. 20 and 6.  The thoughts of both of him circle in his mind. "Give me a bowl of cereal. " "Give me a hit."  "I am sick and need a doctor.  It's a horrible flu and Mom please help me feel better."  "It's withdrawal and Mom please help me feel better."  "No, Mom -- get the fuck away."

20-year-old son, you are killing yourself.  You might not want to live, but your 6-year-old self does.  Help him find me.  Help him make it home. I will wrap both of you in my arms and I will whisper a truth and a lie.  "I love you.  You are safe now."

I'm willing to trade something for your safety.  See my arm? The one I am using to write this down? I will cut it off and give it to you.  Yes -- right her, right now.  There is a good sharp knife in the kitchen.  Don't get up;  I will get it.

If I could ... if only cutting it off and showing you the blood would prove to you how sorry I am for what I must have done or left undone.  If only the gods would accept a trade -- my arm for you.  But my arm is probably too small a sacrifice...

What if I give them my life? I will, you know.  I will go out right now in the dark cold, and I will scream to them to take me, not you.  Take the evil monkey off your back and put it on mine.  I will carry it for you.  I will not try to fight it.  I will let it win so that its death-hunger is sated.

Jump, monkey.  Jump from him to me.  I will play your game.

Just let him go. Please.


7/18/1992 - 2/2/2021

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