Saving Alice by Angela Carlton
I’m in the hospital, but I don’t know why?
My mouth is dry, and my face is numb. A nurse is there, but I can’t conjure up the words to speak. An image comes to me, a red truck or was it an SUV that sat outside my house with a woman behind the wheel, ranting, screaming. As I drift in and out of sleep, the screams remind me of my mother, and I’m that lost child again. My mother’s not taking her meds, there were highs and lows, highs and lows, drifting like angry waves crashing on the sand.
“Alice, your dinner tray is ready,” the nurse says. I see it’s orange Jello, canned fruit with mushy green beans and a piece of rubbery chicken. I eat the Jello and drink some red juice, but the screams still echo inside my head, and I can see that madwoman outside my house. I can see her in the driveway cursing as she runs to the front door. The doorbell rings-rings-rings-rings. The sound is sharp, piercing like a tea kettle, steaming-steaming, roaring until my man stands before her and blocks her. Still, she beats his chest, fist after fist after fist. “You can’t leave,” she wails, “You cannot leave me!” The woman’s adrenaline allows her to break away, and her fists reach my face. She hits me over and over again before I fall to the floor, the dust rising before me in the sunspot near the bay window.
I didn’t sleep much after that. No. I didn’t eat much either. The days meshed into the night and the night meshed into the day until I became weak and unresponsive.
Now, I wiggle my toes in the hospital bed. I rub my hand against my cheek so I can feel something, any piece of me that’s left. My mother used to run her hand over my cheek when she was medicated, and in tune.
That’s when I find sleep again.
And, in my dream, I’m not that child anymore but a woman, the woman who silenced the screams, the woman who is finally free.
Angela Carlton is a Georgia native. Her fiction has been published in EWR, Everyday Fiction, Pedestal Magazine, Long Story Short, High Noon, Third Iris, 50-wordstories, and Friday Flash Fiction. In addition, she won the reader’s choice award with Pedestal Magazine in 2006. When she was a child, she wrote a book called, The Magic Fish and tucked it away in a box for safekeeping. Her collection of stories, “A Jigsaw Life,” was released in December 2022.