Eve waits by the river, knowing her son will be there when the sun is high. She will call out to him. He will shake his head, or simply turn away. She wants him to look at her, eye to eye. If she had been there two minutes earlier, she could have stopped it. She had not imagined how deep the mischief could go. If she had been where she was supposed to be…
II. The Son
I called the police when I found the pot. Most of the paraphernalia was strange to me. A vase was not a vase, the police told me. It was a bong. The incense had been a cover for the scent I wouldn’t have recognized anyway. The little box was for measuring marijuana. Dealers used it.
Oh God, don’t let Daniel be a dealer. (But I can’t undo reality. I can’t go back in time and change the order of things.)
He knew I’d call the police if he ever returned to pot. He had fessed up, but had left himself space to go back:
Mom, the photo I attached is a picture of my pipe that I’ve used for almost four years and owned for almost two. So many lips have licked this pipe, so many hands have hidden it. I’ve smoked from this pipe in so many different places, with so many different people, at so many different times. This pipe goes all the way back to eighth grade when a friend of mine owned it, before I ever smoked pot. I first used this pipe around Christmas break my freshmen year of high school when I first started experimenting. This pipe has a lot of history and a lot of wasted time, but a lot memories of people who changed now or people I haven’t seen and probably won’t see in a long time. It’s going to be hard but I’m going to get rid of this pipe for good. It’s the only marijuana paraphernalia I own and hopefully the last, but I’d probably be lying If I told you I was never going to smoke again in my life. I am going to try to stop, and do something with my life. No one’s home right now and I was going to show you my pipe and take you with me to get rid of it, but instead I’ll go to the river where I’ll dispose of it and let the fishes have it. By the time you read this I probably will have already gotten rid of it. I know I’ve made some stupid choices. I’m sorry for what I’ve done and I want to change.
I wait with him in the courtroom. We watch as the jail transports, all in orange jumpsuits, hands manacled, walk into the room in an orderly line. Everything is in order, and everything has been disrupted. This is not where we should be. My son should be Mormon missionary—that was the plan. I should have been writing him letters. Not here, inches or words away from a trip to jail.
The judge enters and we rise. Eight inmates make their cases to him. Several are there on exactly the same charge as Daniel, though theirs is a second or third offense—or rather, they got caught again.
Daniel’s name is called. The judge reads the charges. “You were caught with marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Your mother called the police. You were in a drug-free zone, and are charged with two class-A misdemeanors. Is this correct?”
“Yes, your honor.” Daniel stands straight and leans certainly into the microphone. He is wearing the grey suit I bought him. I didn’t buy it for this day, but with the thought that if he could see himself in a good suit, maybe he could imagine himself as a missionary.
“Do you waive your right to representation?”
“No Sir. I want a lawyer.”
It was fire through her loins when he was born. Eve could not remember the pain, only her growl/scream—an animal sound. How removed was she from the bears or the tigers? If she could growl/scream with her whole body as they did, who was she?
She watches the river’s slow currents curl into foam, sees the shadows of fish just inches away from her wet feet. She gazes at a dragonfly, its body like twined threads, blue and black, its veined, transparent wings beating faster than time. There is no swish of sound, just a buzz as it darts to the river, then back to her, away, back. No way to predict where it will go next. No way to direct it.
We are sitting on a cabin porch, Daniel and I, looking at the stars, trying to find September’s Perseid meteor shower, and guessing where “northeast” is from our perspective. That’s where we’ll see the shooting stars, my husband had told us. We have a second court date, but it’s weeks away. We are taking time to become friends again, mother and son, finding a world where neither has betrayed the other.
Daniel looks at one constellation, and I at another. I see a meteor rip through the sky. “I saw one,” I whisper. Dan looks, but the tail has faded. He sees the last wisp of another, which I miss. We sit, breathing in scents of pine and distant bonfires.
“Mom?” he says.
I wait. He is waiting for me, too. “Yes?” Did he simply need to know I was listening, that he had my attention?
“Did you hear those kids from jail laugh? When the judge said you had called the police on me, did you hear them laugh?”
“No. I wasn’t focused on them.”
“They probably had parents who wouldn’t do that. They probably had parents who didn’t care.”
“That would be sad.” I couldn’t think of other words.
We look to the heavens again.
“Mom,” he says, “there’s stuff I need to tell you.”
“Okay.” I knew it was coming, knew it would be bad. I’m not bracing for it. I’m calm.
“It wasn’t just pot.”
“Remember the night I was sick and I threw up in the car? I was on morphine.” He spills it all—the night his stoner buddies fed him bread when they thought he was dying of alcohol poisoning; the many times he had snuck out of his bedroom window in the middle of the night and gone to his friends’ place, doing whatever drugs they had handy.
“Where did you get the money?” I ask.
“I pawned stuff.”
“That makes sense. I haven’t seen you play it in a long time.”
“Do you still love me?”
“You played so beautifully. Such a gift.”
“All of that is in your past. We’re moving to your future now.”
“That’s what I want,” he says.
I remember him plucking out “Stairway to Heaven.” He never learned the whole song. He was never good a finishing things. Attention Deficit Disorder.
“Mom,” he says, “I like it when you’re happy.” As though he has heard my thoughts.
“Me too,” I say, and watch the swath of stars just above the pines’ jagged tips. I am hoping for one more dash of light.