The Crooked Face Position
He wanted his mum to stop drinking. And as the years went by he hoped that situation would change.
She stood in front of the mirror analyzing her gums like she was trying to discover if a new found lump was serious. Her fingers pulled her mouth wide apart. Her teeth were yellow, the blacks of decay slightly forming in between. She let go of her mouth and stared at her reflection. She saw the person she always knew, herself, slightly older now in her early thirties, but still herself, still Gina. The stink of alcohol from her mouth came out heavy like it was an old stain in a carpet, now staying there forever. Her long blonde hair was getting older quicker than it should, not many grays, instead the hair was tired, constantly grubby like it was turning into a mop. Her face still had a bit of the clear gene, but it was aging quicker like her hair. Tired bags were forming under her clear blue eyes which seemed to be getting paler by the year.
Tommy appeared by the bathroom door and looked at his mum getting ready for bed. His eyes watched the back of her hunching over the sink and staring at the mirror, an image he was familiar with. He was eight years old, a fit little nothing frame of a boy. Dressed in his shorts and t shirt. He knew he should have been in bed by now, but a concern for his mum always brought him to spy on her. The weak image in front of him. His blue eyes he got from his mum swelled with tears of pain and love for the hope a stronger image one day. Gina kept looking at her reflection and she was upset that features in her face were eroding into a permanent fix. Her cheeks were starting to hang a bit, even on the chiseled waif frame she had. Her mouth was becoming distorted, from the lack of natural smiling. She didn't know Tommy was watching her, but by now Tommy was gone, back to his room. Gina knew she had no-one to blame but herself for how her face and appearance was beginning to look. She knew it was because she was an alcoholic her whole life.
The door was shut, but Gina opened it and went to Tommy who was under the covers, trying to sleep.
"Are you asleep Tommy?" Gina said.
Tommy pretended to be asleep. He was curled up tighter than usual which showed he was forcing his possum a bit. His eyes stayed shut and he was thinking. He didn't know why he didn't answer his mum, but something this time made him stand by his choice. He was expecting his mum to sit next to him and stroke his head, slurring "my angel" or something like that on the occasions she knew he was asleep. But not this time, nothing was by his side. Gina remained standing, half a meter from the bed just looking at Tommy. She felt a barrier and couldn't make out what it was.
Gina sat in her bedroom and turned the radio on lightly. The song which played was a depressing emotional whaling number. Tommy heard it from his room and his eyes opened again, knowing this routine all too well. Gina took a bottle of white wine from behind her bed - saved by one of her secret stash bed time cushions. She poured a glass and drank. Each sip gave her comfort, but unaware yet it was sinking her deeper into depression. The same thoughts appeared at this time; herself and her ex husband who was no longer around. She looked at a picture of her when she was younger and it made her happy of the pretty person she saw. Then depression took over because those looks were faded away, what she had now was deforming features, a face filling with cracks and disfigurement, weak eyes that slid with apathy.
"Do you miss dad?" Tommy said.
"Of course I do" Gina replied.
Gina was driving and Tommy was in the front passenger seat. Gina wasn't expecting Tommy's question, her mind was filled with negative stuff as it always seemed to be these days. Plus Tommy hardly ever spoke about his father which was how they both coped as a single parent and child in these stages of their lives.
"I will always miss your father" Gina said.
"Why did he leave?" Tommy replied. Gina had to be careful with what she said next.
"Things weren't the same how they used to be with us. But I will always love your father and he will always love you"
"Doesn't he love you?" Gina felt challenged and backed into a corner.
"I don't think so"
Gina couldn't answer the question because she knew the truth was something of her own fault. She needed out of the situation immediately and it was a miracle when she realized they had arrived at Tommy's school.
"Have a good day at school Tommy" Gina said.
She was already kissing Tommy goodbye, leaning over and opening his door seconds after the car had stopped. She said "I love you" which Tommy replied, but the hug was icy, inside Tommy shut himself off. When the door closed, Gina breathed a small sigh of relief. She didn't know how the hell she could have told Tommy the truth; that his father left her because she was an alcoholic and couldn't admit it. She knew it was selfish, but she was so depressed these days, other peoples concerns were no concern of hers. Only her drama meant anything. Tommy was walking to school with his back pack on, greeted by his enthusiastic friends who waited in front of him. They made him happy, as their brightness lit him up, a change from his mum and home.
He didn't turn back to wave to his mum. He knew the truth anyway, he knew he was smart enough to know what was really going on in his house, so he just shimmered into school with his friends. Gina watched him from her car window and became sad. It was like she finally understood she had a serious drinking problem and everything around her was crumbling because of that. Her husband had left her, and when Tommy grows up she feared he would too. The way his back was shown to her on his way to school made her realize she was in a bad stage of her life and had to make a change. Then she removed a small bottle of wine from behind her seat - another secret stash and dealt with her problems the only way she knew how, by drinking.
Banners were all around the house stating 'Happy 18th Birthday Tommy'. Gina looked at the surroundings proudly knowing it was her work for her sons birthday. Her face was fresh and features were healthy. There were still a few scars of disfigurement from the years of excessive drinking, but the new person covered them up better now. The party was lively, it was full of Tommy's friends from school, most of them about to start University like Tommy. Predominantly middle class white kids, good lookers, big personalities and machine gun confidence. A few of Gina's friends were in the kitchen having their own party within the party. They were mostly work colleagues, middle aged ladies from the comfortable married with families stock. They dressed up in skirts and heels, a large proportion of flesh healthily on show, some of the younger lads kept prying over to them with any moments notice to chat them up.
This observational moment Gina found satisfying. Mostly because she was a different person these days, she was drink free and had been for five weeks. Tommy noticed his mum seeming happy in the living room. He was talking to his friend he was certain to convert into a girlfriend at this party, a really pretty blonde called Saskia. She had legs to Chelsea and a face which gave Hollywood a run for their money. That bug look about her Tommy fell in love with, to him she was that perfect hot girl. Tommy said he'd be back to her in a minute and went to his mum.
"I'm really proud of you mum" Tommy said.
"Thank you Tommy. I'm proud of you too" Gina replied.
Seeing his mum so healthy and 'normal' made Tommy happier than anything else. The natural face of a human being looked back at him. He hugged her, proud again of the change in the person he cares for most in the world. He thought turning eighteen was the next stage of his life and it seemed that included his mum too. He was looking forward to it, so excited like he couldn't sit still inside.
Gina was in a spare room with the ladies, nattering, they had their glasses of wine and she had her apple juice. She seemed contempt enough, however an urge tugged her heart like a rope in tug of war. It was harsh, to the point where she clutched her chest. The ladies didn't notice. The feeling was spiteful and Gina thought she was under attack. She left the room and went to the living room to breath. Most of the teenagers were in the garden, only a few were on the settee's drinking or kissing. Gina got her breath and felt relieved, but what followed next was the sight on wine in the kitchen. The bottle talked to her, it made faces at her, she looked at it long enough it seemed to dance for her. The weakness in the bottom of Gina's heart hadn't fully recovered yet, and that is what pushed her to the kitchen. She downed one glass after the next. Then a few shots of Vodka. The satisfaction was nothing like it. Five weeks of being away caught up quickly, in minutes.
Tommy was in the garden on the bench kissing Saskia. They were kissing for about three minutes and he didn't want it to end, so he carried it on as long as she pulled away. And felt in heaven because she never did. Her small delicate tongue messaging against his, it shifted him off to sea on course to the most sunniest shores. Her skinny girl legs sat across his skinny male legs and her stroked them as he kissed her. He was the happiest guy in the world right now to know the girl he fancied was his at this moment. Then a smash and whale came from the house, it was loud, the whole party heard it. Everyone in the garden were put to attention towards the front room. The whales kept coming and Tommy's pupils contracted to pins, that voice sounded familiar, he thought it was a trick because that sound was supposed to be long gone.
In the house Gina was on the floor, unable to lift herself up, her legs were like a pair of drunken dead nothings. Her face, as she looked up at the concerned guests around her, was a ghost mask. The eyes slid, the cracks came through, the mouthed resumed it's upside down truth, the hair bunched out like it had a mini round with sparky.
"Help me, for fucks sake help me!" Gina cackled. The teenagers didn't know what to do or how to react bless them.
"Don't just stand there, help me the fuck up" Gina continued. The middle aged ladies entered the room and were about to obey Gina's cries but Tommy told them to stand back.
"Tommy" Gina whimpered.
Tommy just looked at the picture below him, the sad image of a woman back in the same place again.
"I'm sorry, I messed up again"
Gina was in bed, Tommy was tucking her in and sat beside her. He had to think for a moment at how strange the situation felt for a second. Then he knew the truth of what was happening, it was his turn to be the parent. No sound or anyone was in the house as the party was over. Tommy looked at his mum, the eyes peeping back at him above the duvet she was pulling to hide her face. But Tommy saw everything because the alcohol brought it all back; the alien nature and the scares catered for by alcohol. The eyes had shame in them, like they couldn't look at it's only child. It pained Tommy to see her mum wasn't strong enough to move on and still in the same place.
"You have to stop drinking mum. You were doing so well" Tommy said.
"I am sorry Tommy" Gina replied.
"You have to try harder, or it will ruin your life for good"
"I can do it, I will change"
"I know dad left you because of your drinking"
A snapshot of life slapped Gina in the face. She didn't know what it meant and she wasn't religious, but something spiritual happened. Eventually she became grateful Tommy said that, because it was the challenge she needed to realize how terrible she has been. For the first time EVER she felt a change taking place inside her and WAS going to stand by it this time.
"I will change. I promise you Tommy" Gina said.
The tone of her voice and the look in her sliding drunken eyes was different. In the mix of the drunkness Tommy found something that was new, the truth, a suppressed strength and believed her mum meant it this time. Then he got a text from Saskia.
I hope you mum is alright. I really like you. Looking forward to seeing you again. Sas Xxx