Her life was over. She was seventeen years old and her life was over.
If she wanted to keep her baby, she was going to have to live the next six months in a locked institution; if she wanted to live freely at home, she had to agree to give her child up for adoption at birth…how could she do that and live? Dear God, she still wept over Duke when she thought of him, and Mother had given him away ten years ago. And her parakeet…if she would still cry over the loss of a bird more than six years after Mother had given him away, how would she live through having her baby taken from her and given to strangers?
And now Mark had abandoned her. Her last, best hope…the final anchor in the maelstrom that was her life…was gone. His father was sending him to a distant school and Mark, still under eighteen, felt he had no choice but to go. It was not in him to defy his father a second time, especially for her. It appeared that the old saw about repeating a lie often enough and people begin to believe it is true seemed to operate here…Old Fritz had insisted from the first that the baby was not Mark’s and now, even Mark was questioning the baby’s paternity. She had never felt so completely alone.
She was curled on her side on her cot in the kitchen, the corner of her pillow stuffed in her mouth to muffle her crying. Mother had forbidden tears and, while there had been no physical assaults since she returned home pregnant…Nana and Grandpa had made it clear to Mother that such a thing had better not happen…nothing held back Mother’s vicious and vituperative tongue. She went out of her way to avoid provoking it, sometimes biting the inside of her cheek or lip until she tasted blood to prevent her from lashing back at Mother’s cruel and scathing diatribes. Living with Mother was but a single step away from Hell itself, but at least here the doors were unlocked during daylight hours.
In the morning she resumed her normal routine and headed out to the public library as soon as it would be open. She had graduated from high school and Mother would not pay tuition to the local junior college nor give permission for a work permit. Aside from the cleaning, she had nothing to do all day, so she spent her time taking long walks down to the beach and back and visiting the library. But this morning she had made a very slight variation…after Mother had driven away to work she opened her bottom drawer and, at the back, pulled out a balled-up pair of her old gym socks. Unrolling a pair, she extracted the small amount of money she had secreted there, then replaced the socks in their exact position. That was how Mother snooped and found stuff…she looked for things that were positioned differently, or a little out of place. This would give her no clue in her next spying foray.
After spending some time in the library she stopped at a pharmacy and pored over the boxes of sleeping tablets, finally selecting a single box. Tucking the little bag into her purse, she set off on her normal morning walk, but altered her routine slightly by stopping at each pharmacy she came to, purchasing yet another little blue box of pills until she had almost run out of money. She calmly walked home, spread her purchases out on the bed and consolidated all of the pills into a single pile, which she scooped into a small plastic bag, twisted the top shut, and hid in the pocket of her winter coat in the closet. Nobody would think of looking there for at least another six weeks, when Indian summer was over and the biting ocean chill of autumn set in for good. Then, careful to leave no evidence for Mother’s prying eyes, she collected up the debris and took off on another short walk, disposing of the blue boxes, the printed pharmacy bags, and the empty pill containers in a public waste bin at a street corner. She checked the hours of the corner liquor store, then set off for home again.
She cleaned the house…not immaculately because that would make Mother suspicious, like the time she learned how to set a formal table at school and tried to duplicate it at home. “What are you angling for?” Mother had asked suspiciously and later, when it was time for her to get ready for her Girl Scout meeting, Mother had refused to drive her, saying she would not be manipulated by a mere kid. No, to do something without leaving room for some kind of complaint invited suspicions as to your motives, which in turn, awakened Mother’s snooping proclivities. Better to do a couple of things half-assed and keep Mother lulled.
Calling Mark, she calmly and quietly asked him to meet her in the morning at the beach at the end of Fanuel Street. She wanted to say good-bye, she told him, to see him one last time before their lives permanently diverged. She had selected an isolated little beach on a quiet inlet of the bay where grew a huge sheltering tree, its branches arching down to the ground to create a secluded refuge in which they could sit and speak privately. He agreed on her promise that, after this meeting, she would not call him again, as his father had actually forbidden further contact between them. Later, after the dinner dishes were done and Mother and Frank were busy with the TV, she sat on her cot with the breadboard across her lap and wrote Mark a final letter. It would be her final message to him. Then, feeling unaccountably lightened, she lay down to sleep.
For the first time in months, she awoke refreshed. Careful to keep her renewed sense of purpose to under wraps lest Mother’s radar pick it up, she stayed in bed and complained of morning sickness, pulling the covers over her head and waiting patiently for her mother to leave the house. She then rose, showered, and took a beach towel and a small bag with only a few items. After stopping at the corner liquor store to get a bottle of Coke, she walked down to the beach, spread out her towel and sat down to wait for Mark.
At 8:30 she put down the paperback she had purloined from Mother’s stack of sleazy detective novels and decided he wasn’t coming. Not that she was entirely surprised...she was, after all, the cast-off girlfriend and as such, not particularly important to keep appointments with. She supposed he had agreed to meet just to get her off the phone. She sighed. No matter...his presence or absence really made no difference now.
It was time to put Part Two of her plan into action, although she had hoped to have had a chance to tell Mark goodbye and to give him her last letter. She rose from the beach, picked up the towel, and headed for the seclusion of the tree. Nobody would even know she was there unless they actually parted the branches and came inside the shelter created by the branches that swept the ground…and it was too early on a week day for anyone to come along and spoil her plans. Up the sloping beach, near the trunk, on the side nearest the concrete wall that divided the beach from private property, she spread out the towel and sat down again. She opened the little bag and withdrew the plastic bag of pills, and spilled them into the skirt of her muumuu. The Coke, having been open for nearly an hour, has lost a lot of its fizz and she commenced with the unpleasant task of swallowing several dozen pills with as little drink as possible…she didn’t want to dilute their effect. From her research in the library, scopolamine, the active ingredient in these pills, needed to be taken in rather large quantities in order to be fatal. She hoped she had taken enough…the very last thing she wanted was to wake up and have to deal with Mother over this.
She tidied the corners of the beach towel, took out her letter to Mark and stuck it upright in the sand, and secured the soda bottle in the sand. She then stretched out on the towel, having dug a little hollow in the sand to accommodate her burgeoning tummy, opened the turgid novel and resumed reading.
~ ~ ~ *** ~ ~ ~
There was something in her throat and she could not breathe! She arched up, trying to claw at the obstruction in her throat only to be seized by paroxysms of violent vomiting. She could not breathe! Her arms were immobile, she could not use them to free herself from the object that closed off her throat and kept her from sucking in any air. Eyes popped wide and staring, she could see a bright white light, the glare of which was so brilliant that it blocked out the owners of what felt like dozens of arms and hands clawing at her, dragging her down, pulling her away from the light. There was a background din, a cacophony of clashing beeps and distorted voices, metallic clangs and humming machine sounds. Were these Satan’s minions, demons dragging her to Hell? Had Grandpa been right after all? They were suffocating her, these demons…was that going to be her eternal punishment, alternately suffocating and vomiting until her lungs and her guts felt like they were going to burst? Still unable to breathe, panicking, she heaved herself upwards and struggled against the clawing fingers one last time, making one last, desperate, effort to draw a breath. Failing, her immobile arms unable to reach the obstruction and dislodge it, she fell back limply as her eyes rolled up into the blackness inside her head.
It is difficult to deal with a narcissist when you are a grown, independent, fully functioning adult. The children of narcissists have an especially difficult burden, for they lack the knowledge, power, and resources to deal with their narcissistic parents without becoming their victims. Whether cast into the role of Scapegoat or Golden Child, the Narcissist's Child never truly receives that to which all children are entitled: a parent's unconditional love. Start by reading the 46 memories--it all began there.