by Eric J. Krause
Mother smacked Sandra on the top of her head. "Be gentle, damn it! I'm a dainty little flower."
Sandra frowned. Dainty little flower, my behind. Instead, she said in as cheery a voice as she could muster, "Sorry, Mother. I'll be more careful."
It wasn't bad enough she had to be Mother's caregiver tonight, with the bath, cooking dinner, and dressing her for bed, but missing Senior Prom made it all the worse. She even had a date with Jimmy Bob Brennan. All the girls at school were jealous. Not that it mattered anymore since she had to cancel.
She wouldn't have had any fun anyway. Yeah, right. Keep telling yourself that, girl. No one could dance like Jimmy Bob, and now he was going to have his moves busting with some other chick. It wasn't fair. She'd have been a classy girl, not some whore ready to go down on him at a moments notice. True, she'd already planned on giving him her virginity tonight, but she'd do it lady like. She wouldn't have pushed her cleavage in his face and rubbed her rump all over him on the dance floor. Well, she might have, but she wouldn't have been a slut while doing it.
None of it mattered anymore. Maddie had seen to that. Her little sister, the so-called brains of the family, needed to have the night off from taking care of Mother because she had a big school project due on Monday. Daddy made Sandra cancel her plans for the prom, even though he knew she'd been looking forward to it all year, so Maddie could stay over at one of her stupid friend's house to work on the project. He wouldn't listen to any reason. And what pissed Sandra off even more was the smug look on Maddie's face as she walked out the door, her backpack slung over her shoulder. She probably didn't even have a project due. She just wanted to ruin Sandra's night, ruin her whole life.
"Watch out with that damn soap. I'll make your father rub it in your eyes, see how much you like it."
"Sorry, Mother. I'll be more careful."
No one knew what was wrong with Mother. The doctors had run every test they could think of on her, but nothing had come back conclusive. With the medical bills piling up, the family couldn't afford a live-in nurse, so Sandra and Maddie had to take over. Mother had no strength and could hardly move on her own, and if you weren't careful when you helped her, she'd scream out in pain. And to make matters worse, there was nothing wrong with her mouth or her temper.
Sandra didn't know how much longer she could take it. Mother could live for another thirty years or more. The doctors had no idea. Since Maddie was seen as the smart one, already on the fast-track to college, and Daddy working double shifts at the plant six days a week, taking care of Mother fell almost exclusively on Sandra.
She'd thought about suicide. The After-School Specials they showed in homeroom gave her some great ideas. But that wasn't the way to go. She wanted to have fun, and if she were dead, she couldn't have any. But it came to her as she gently scrubbed Mother's back. Maybe it was the missed prom. Maybe it was the though of Jimmy Bob with some other girl. Whatever brought it on, it was a stroke of brilliance.
"Damn it, girl, put your elbows into it. I can feel the crud building up back there. But do it gentle like. Why can't you be half as smart as your sister?"
And she was, sort of. She gave a gentle nudge to the top of Mother's shoulders. If anybody had been watching, it would've looked like an accident. Mother's head slid down towards the water. She tried to brace herself to keep from going under, but that strain brought out a scream of pain. Sandra gave her another push, and she screamed again. Words were trying to form, but panic had set in, and Mother couldn't let out anything Sandra could understand. It was just as well. Sandra shrugged and watched her slip all the way under.
Good thing no one was home.