Word Count: 58,000
Genre: NA Contemporary
System(s) of Oppression: Homophobia and classism
Author's Identity: [removed], Grew up in poverty
Jack thought his freshman year of college would help him escape from his parochial, poverty-stricken hometown in Appalachia. That is, until his mom tried to commit suicide right before the start of the first semester. If she hadn’t found him in bed with Casey—the only boy from home who ever came close to understanding him—Jack could’ve left town and never looked back.
Fitting in with strangers in a college town isn’t as easy as he’d hoped, especially when the only money to his name is his scholarship, and the only calls he receives are from his unforgiving mom. It doesn’t help that he hasn’t slept since his mom kicked him out of her room at the psychiatric clinic, or that Casey hasn’t returned any of his calls since the “incident.”
Overwhelmed with guilt, and desperately trying to understand why he needs a guy who’s too stubborn to open up about what he wants, Jack finds his mental state heading in the same direction as his mom’s. Jack must learn to set boundaries between the life he’s been dealt and the life he wants before he can patch up the situation with his mom and win back the guy he might love.
I wouldn’t have recognized Mom if a nurse hadn’t led me to her room.
The first thing I noticed was her head. Her bushy hair was haphazard and choppy, like a careless nurse threw a chainsaw in her general direction. Her neck kinked to the side, and her tongue sagged out of her mouth as she snored. Mom’s wrists hung from the cuffs pinned to the bed rail, as if to show off her filed-down fingernails. The sheet tangled ’round her ankles like she’d tried to kick it off before the drugs took effect. I did my best to ignore the gauze coverin’ her left forearm.
She wasn’t goin’ anywhere.
I stared through the glass door leadin’ to Mom’s room. The nurse said I’d be allowed in when she was more responsive, probably in a couple days. God, I wouldn’t’ve wanted to talk to her even if I was allowed. I could already hear the conversation: “Hi Mom, how’s it goin’?” “What do you care, Jack?” “Nice talkin’ to you too, Mom.”
I helped myself to the coffee and Styrofoam cups at the end of the hall, even though I wasn’t sure if they were free. I paced in front of Mom’s glass door and waited for my coffee to cool. The nurses whispered to each other and stared at me with scrunched-up faces, never once thinkin’ to offer me a chair.
It wasn’t long before I realized I didn’t need to linger; if no one would let me inside, there was no reason to stare at mom’s patchwork head and dried-up tongue.