The Man in the Woods

My friend was feeling charitable last night, especially since the woman she’s trying to befriend keeps standing her up. She actually came down to get me.

I felt familiar dread. If things go badly she’ll take it out on me. The first Waffle House we tried to get in, they were only doing take out due to their lack of staffing. We tried another: 30 minute wait. Cook Out: Too many people waiting in the drive thru. The McDonald’s by her house: closed. She launched into how nothing is ever open late in the south speech. She decided we probably shouldn’t go to the beach since there’s a lot of drunks at this time of night: midnight.

We went to her house and had watered down tequila. O. used to raid the liquor cabinet and refill with water what he drank. She went on about when I drank I was a drunk and about the times I took too much Ativan.

“I had my shrink reduce my pills by half the last time I did it,” I said, but she wouldn’t give me credit for that. Why even invite me for a drink if you’re going to moan at me, right?

I paced myself, taking about an hour to drink the glass of tequila and didn’t ask for seconds even though she had 2. After a bit, she decided she was OK and we went back to my apartment. She was pretty much sober, but was nervous, and told me not to let her do this again.

She decided we should feed the strays again. She asked me where I fed them earlier and I admitted to feeding them on this elevated meter. I’m supposed to feed on the porch at night to keep the ants off the food, especially since the crazy homeless guy who sleeps in the woods made it certain that he didn’t want the feeding station near his sleeping place. He had moved it a couple times before he destroyed it. He finallysmashed to pieces the plastic feeding station and bashed in the metal bowls. While we’ve never seen him, we see where he sleeps due to all the trash, blanket, etc.

“If I had a sharpie, I’d have written ‘I hope you die,’ on a piece of plastic. Probably a good thing I didn’t.”

“Yes, he might not realize it wasn’t me who wrote it,” I replied.

“Typical. Always putting yourself first. I was worried about him hurting the cats.”

By now it was 4am. She had put some food on the meter and I didn’t realize she was going to the porch. I should’ve gotten out and followed. She berated me for getting back in the car, that she could’ve used the support of me following her, that she had killed a 5 inch water bug. I had kept looking in the woods, knowing that a disturbed person wouldn’t be happy if someone woke him up.

She berated me until we got to my apartment. And that was my Saturday night.

And I’m sure people don’t like me, but that’s all for now.


I had to call maintenance to come fix my air conditioner. Per usual, I’m terrified. What if my apartment isn’t up to par or it smells bad? What if my bedroom door opens?

My worst fear is losing my home, but summer can be extremely brutal without air conditioning. They just put new HVACs in a couple years ago. What if they blame me for it going bad?

Everyday, sometimes twice a day, I look on my door for a note from management or worse. It’s an obsession of mine. I forgot to check the hallway for the odor of marijuana, so what if my tolerant neighbors get evicted and someone who will tell on me for every little thing replaces them?


It sometimes hits me so hard that I have little to live for. I’ve done nothing with my life, and if I die, no one will mourn me deeply. I’ve accomplished nothing, I’ll never amount to anything, and everyone would be better off if I met with a fatal accident.

I didn’t go fast enough for my friend and she abandoned me where we were feeding strays. It’s only a few minutes to my house and only 10:30, but that feeling of being tossed aside is so distressing. She’s rode off on me before, once threatened to leave me in a remote area at Christmas, or leave me at a grocery store once.

No one needs me.

Two Deaths

The First

From time to time, I google my second cousin Charles. Charles, my maternal grandmother’s sister’s son. Charles, who grew up next door to my mom. Charles, who let me know ever so tactfully, that I had no more family when my mother died. There was his obituary. He lived to a reasonable 79 and died sometime in March. I don’t know how he died, but dead he is. I’m ambivalent. Was he the bad guy in this story, or was my mom, and Charles did what any reasonable person would do under the circumstances?

My mom had died that morning. That afternoon I found the old phone book with his number written in it by my long gone grandmother. I called and got his wife, who was really kind, and she got Charles. I swear, he must’ve been rehearsing for the day I’d call, that my mom was already some dead stranger in his mind. I told him how my mom died of sepsis and that could I have the number of his sister, Diane, who I knew a bit better than him. His voice was sickeningly sweet, patronizing, as though he were talking to a dim child. It went something like, “Ohhh” when I told him of her death, and said equally saccharine, that Diane had gotten remarried and he didn’t know her new number. It might have been true, but he acted as though he had no clue about my mother or me either. I couldn’t accept that I had been disowned, so I tried calling again the next day just in case he really was ignorant of who I was. Same saccharine tone, but no sorry for your loss. I kept hoping he’d tell Diane, that he’d remember he was a “good Christian” and that I was family.

I look back on that time of my life, and I still grow anxious, wondering how I managed to survive, my mom in the hospital morgue and I facing the loss of our home. All I know is, there must be a God, but I’m still ever vigilant that my luck might run out any day now, and that I will lose everything.

Here is the possible vindication of Charles. Straight out of high school, at the age of 17, my mom got the hell out of that tiny mountain community, trained to be a registered nurse, and joined the air force. She came back, , but she didn’t feel like she belonged there. We visited as long as my grandparents lived there, and we saw family who visited as long as my grandparents were alive. But the moment my grandparents were both gone, my mom didn’t keep in touch with the rest of the family. Out of sight, out of mind was my mother’s mindset. I remember vividly at various times asking my mom to call relatives, so that we weren’t totally alone.

We ended up selling the house we had lived in with our grandparents after they died. We couldn’t afford the upkeep. Mom didn’t bother to tell them where we lived now, but Diane searched for us. She found out I was on disability for “my nerves.” I didn’t want to go into my full mental health issues. We were told to keep in touch. Mom didn’t and I was too shy.

So you see, my mom asked for it, and after she died, they gave it to her through me. Maybe it was deserved, but someone once asked me would I have done that to a mentally ill family member. Honestly, no I would not.

Second Death

I’m scrolling through Facebook and suddenly I see my first grade teacher, with ‘Remembering’ over her photo. She’s dead, but not naturally. She was driving one Sunday night and a young drunk guy hit her head on. She died at the scene. I still can’t fathom it. No one is saying whether she died instantly or lingered a short while. I unfortunately have a wild imagination, something she could have attested to when I was a little girl. I pray she didn’t know what happened.

I’m struck with massive amounts of guilt. Guilt that I tried to limit our interactions because she would beg me to come stay with her. She had wanted to adopt me when I was little and she still wanted me some 35 years or so later. I was such an unremarkable, ugly little girl that the principal and previous teacher wrote me off as too dumb to learn to read. It was probably my lack of luster, funny way of walking, and withdrawn way that made her determined to teach me and love me. My own mother couldn’t even understand why she liked me so much, and was afraid she was going to kidnap me. Mom thought maybe she couldn’t have children. That was definitely not the case, because she went on to have six children! Yet after all these years, she still saw me as her favorite student ever. Me of all people. She wanted to come see me in February , while her brother was recovering from a covid related amputation. I don’t know what happened. Did she not come? Did she sense I was more than a bit concerned that I’d catch covid? I wish she understood why I didn’t want to move far away and become beholden on someone ever again. I cuss, while she marked curses out of books. She believed liberalism was against God and that one should turn from it. I would have been miserable hiding my thoughts all the time. I hope she forgives me wherever she is now. Still, I yearn to be as kind and giving as her. She was loved by virtually everyone who knew her. She was probably the last person on earth who loved me unconditionally.