"How many times have you seen it?"
I've been asked this question too many times to count but this time, in this place, it means more. The question isn't a simple one. Nor is it rhetorical either. This time it carries the weight of the world on its shoulders.
The woman asking this question wears a suit and carries a clipboard. She makes notes as I tell stories about growing up with an alcoholic mother. She seems bored with my disconnected recital. It's all part of my mother's rehab intake. This woman has heard all the stories before from different mouths. Some worse than mine I suppose.
She has heard the, "please God, let it work this time," in the voices. The frustration at the alcoholic for being unable to help themselves. The anger that comes through in my voice now seems to shake her. This gives me a perverse sense of pleasure although I know it shouldn't but no matter how hard I try, I can't keep the anger out.
I am angry. Angry for being the one who has to pick up the pieces. Angry because for some stroke of bad luck, I was born first so it falls to me to hold it all together and take are of my mother.
I finish answering her questions, gather my things, and leave.
"Please God, let it work this time."