Grade: 8th grade
Age: 14

The Creaks Above

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I sat with my eyes closed in the stillness of my quiet room, with the occasional creak from the shaky moldy pipes above. The creaks were my reminder. A cruel reminder to come back to reality. I’ve tried to ignore the creaks but it seems they only get louder as I try to block them out and pretend that everything is okay. I try to sit and let the bad thoughts sink in as much as they can until they fade away, but those pipes always bring me back, like I’m trapped with no escape. The loud creaks make it almost impossible to drift from reality.
I opened my eyes as I returned from my desperate attempt to escape from my world of pain. I look up at the familiar ceiling, riddled with tape marks of failed attempts to stop the leaks from the pipes, which could still be heard humming and creaking ever so slightly above. The pipes were the only consistent thing about my life. I can’t remember a time where they haven’t been there, always creaking. I’ve lived in the same crappy apartment with the same crappy landlord since I was born. With each day the apartment was falling apart, whether it was the leaky and creaky pipes or the broken water heater. It’s just mom and I now. Ever since her and dad split, I’ve been reminded of the empty promises like repairing the apartment and lost hope, them splitting standing as another example of that. When dad left, mom promised me it was for the best, and things would only get better. I was promised, only to be let down by none other than the person who made the promise. Mom spiraled out of control when dad left. She fell into an endless void of drinking. I thought of it as her way to escape the pain she felt. Like me, she wanted to drift away from reality. Drift away from all the pain inside her.
I heard a loud crash from the other room. Probably from the kitchen, the crash being a bottle or wine glass. I was used to the noise of glass breaking and crashing as I did not flinch or quickly investigate, I felt numb. I lifted myself off of the single, lopsided mattress on the floor. The springs creaked loudly almost drowning out a second shattering of glass from the other room. I walked into the kitchen, looking down at the floor.
Two wine bottles broken in what seemed like a million pieces were spilled all over the floor with my mom in the middle of all the chaos. Mom was knelt on the counter anxiously reaching for the half empty vodka bottle on the counter from nights prior. Her hair was matted and frizzy. She was still dressed in the same faded sweatpants and red Disneyland shirt for the last four days, you could smell the alcohol and sweat off her.
“Hi, honey! Mind giving me a hand?” She said it as if she didn’t just break 2 wine bottles, as if she wasn’t going on yet another drinking spree, as if everything was okay. I looked at the Disneyland shirt dad had gotten her three years ago when we went to Disneyland for my birthday. It was stained all over and the logo was faded. It was another reminder of better times, ruined. It reminded me of her, worn out and dilapidated. It seemed the shirt, my mom, and the apartment shared a common theme. I stood there for a second just looking at her. Looking at that look on her face, that fake smile, hiding the pain.
I snapped out of my trance and grabbed the broom stuffed on the side of the fridge. I pushed the glass aside into the other side of the kitchen. I tried to make a clear walkway. With each movement of the broom, I tried coming up with ideas how drinking helped. It numbs the pain right? It makes her feel better, doesn’t it? I slowly realized as my last strokes were made with the broom to brush the glass away that it wasn’t helping, the shards were too small. They started to bury themselves into the brittle wooden floor. Things were only getting worse just as drinking made things worse for my mom. I so badly wanted things to go back to how they used to be, I didn’t care how my mom got better, I wanted to feel happy, I wanted my mom back. I carefully stepped over the wine stained floor riddled with glass shards buried in the wood flooring, to my mom still stretched out on the counter reaching for the vodka bottle.
“Hey baby, do your mom a favor a grab that bottle right there,” she breathed into my face.
Her breath was dense. I couldn’t let this continue to happen, I couldn’t let her continue to suffer. I acted without thinking, I jumped up, grabbing the bottle from the nearby cabinet and held it close to my chest. I backed up shaking my head, unable to say anything yet. Each step I made sure not to step on the glass. She looked at me strangely and hopped down off the counter. She walked closer to me ignoring the glass shards scattered below her feet. “What are you gonna do with that, Alex?” I almost didn’t react to Alex, she hadn’t called me by my name since dad left, only baby and honey. She had this look of desperation in her eyes.

It scared me.
It was as if she was a lioness, closing in on her prey. “C’mon and give it to mom now,” she said with a subtle edge to her voice. The crunching of glass shards on her feet made it all the more scarier. As I backed up more and more I tripped over the broom I had left lying on the ground. I fell back, the vodka bottle falling with me.

2 thoughts on “The Creaks Above

  1. AGAIN NO RESOLUTION!!!! What happens? How far does Alex fall? Does his mother attack? Extremely detailed descriptions convey character of mother and son effectively as well as the tension between them. Suddenly, the reader is left up in the air…..

  2. A difficult story about the impact of alcoholism on a mother & child. It seems that the child (Alex/ no gender?) would have a better sense of the destructiveness of alcoholism if this had been going on for three years. It’s a powerful in-the-moment scene, but there’s not a lot of resolution or insight (or hint of change or redemption) at the end.

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