Mrs. Ginsburg

The river of time flows past our front doors


That's how it started; a full bottle of Jameson's in the sand. Just that one bottle propped at an inconsiderate angle. Damn thing should be allowed the dignity of standing up straight until it tips over in the despair called emptiness. Never do that to a full bottle unless it's Bushmills, in which case, empty it into the surf. It's the humane and just thing to do. "Me mam don't hold with Prod whiskey" 

I was, at least, in my own bed. 

I live in the lower level of my parent's condo. I came back from Colorado. I got worried. That's the youngest Irish kid, right? Except it's supposed to be the daughter and my father managed only boys, which leaves me. My next older brother is an ever-loving fucktard alcoholic piece of shit married to the spawn of... you get the picture. Good news, he's in one of those almost fly-over states. No chance of causing a shit storm on a regular basis. My oldest brother checked out a lot of years ago. Maybe as early as college. Gotta get out of here, he said. I can't live Mom and Dad's life.

So he's a history teacher and he's married to a nurse. Living a wee bit north buys him no forgiveness. On my part. He produced the grandchildren, may the saints be with those blessed babes. Me mam can see them when he decides she can behave. I can't stand the way she frets; wrings her hands and scrubs her face, looking for a way to give that bastard what we he wants.

There's no way in hell she can give him what he wants. It isn't in her power.

What he wants is to be the man he drew on a piece of paper in his head when he finally got that head out of his ass and focused up. What a person wants and what a person can get aren't necessarily in the same room. Sometimes one thing is in France and the other in Zimbobwe and nobody sees the distance. The bottom line is, you are who you are and if you're a degenerate gambler with an under the table drinking problem, then that is what you are.

I can't hold a bottle Jameson's over anybody's head, but I can call it when I see it. I'm getting too old to fuck around with the niceties that cover up truth. 

Truth is maybe all I have left.

My cousin says that isn't true. She reminds me that I walk through walls. I remind her that I am inebriated at the time. She reminds me that the how of the what isn't even remotely relevant.

My cousin had a plan. She's got three kids and she's chewed her way through three husbands and one shit ass boyfriend. After that, she said she was done. 

That decision left her alone and she said, I don't care. I'd rather be alone than feel the way I felt in those last two marriages.

Are you talking about David and Pat or are you talking about Will and David?

Does it matter?

Probably not.

My cousin's last kid, the best kid because she's a Mick like me, was a junior at Hunter college and Had. Her. Shit. Together. My cousin could have walked away and left her in the dust and she would carry on, as per her plan. Maybe not recover; but carry on nevertheless.

My cousin had a plan which was fucking news to me and not so fucking news to her brother or two of her kids and can anyone tell me why NOBODY thought to give me a call?

My cousin had a plan. It started with a post card to the least vulnerable person in her circle. That was husband #2, and then not, because his father got the mail. Then it was #1 son, but he did not deserve this shit. Anybody but the baby. Mother of God, anybody but the baby. 

I don't know who she picked in the end because she didn't do it. But the point was to send a postcard so nobody would worry or think she was missing and the whole ordeal would be over. No muss, no fuss. My cousin isn't stupid, she did her research and she's got resources and she's got money in the bank at the moment. She doesn't like a mess. It's bad enough leaving everybody; best to do it clean. 

My cousin's therapist says she thinks she's Jesus. She should be so lucky. She's just got that cross. Nobody gave her that cross. She found it lying on the ground and decided somebody had to carry it. She carried it until it was rotting from exposure. Pieces falling off left and right but the weight grew exponentially with time and she only knew one way to put it down.

She came to see me about a week and a half into confession. She didn't want to die and she couldn't find a way out. I figure the day she walked in that condo and saw my mother was the day she broke.

My cousin tells me my mother saved her life. My mother saved her life by being the one person outside the invisible wall who could, and would reach out and grab her from time to time. My cousin loves my mother like air. I watched her pull my mother in, cup her head with her hand, and pull her in. I don't know the words she whispered to my mother but it woke them both up.

We went to dinner, me, my parents, my woman, and my cousin who did NOT want to be inside the confines of a restaurant but she sat behind my parents and snuggled up against my mom and she seemed ok.

I was going to sleep on the couch. I gave her my room and she asked if the furniture belonged to our grandparents. It does and that made her smile. We drank that bottle of Jameson's on the cement porch right outside my room. We put a hurt on it, for sure. At 2 AM one of us decided it was time to throw in the towel.

I remember. I remember clearly saying goodnight and closing the door as she headed into the bathroom. I remember. I climbed the stairs and hit the couch. And I woke up in my bed with late afternoon sun trying to bully its way into my sleeping chambers. My head hurt like somebody beat on it. I touch sore spots on the right side; swollen, like baby hematomas that hang out for weeks. And I have NO idea what the fuck happened. I see the bottle of Jameson's lying its side on a bookshelf. Looks to be like a shameful remainder of an inch and a half. We should have finished the damn thing. 

I pull my pants on and stagger upstairs. Mom is actaully UP and in the kitchen. I ask her if she's seen my cousin and she gives me a look. You know that girl can't just drop everything and come up here on a whim. I feel dizzy. Mom, did we or did we not have dinner with my girlfriend and your niece last night?

Honey, we had dinner. You, me, Dad, and that lovely girl I can't remember her name.

That's it? There was no one else?

Should there be?

I guess not. You're awful happy this morning.

I know. I had the most wonderful dreams and I woke up like five years shed away. 

Yeah, you do look pretty good. 

I found a note on my night table.

You did?

Yes. I did. Would you like to see it?

Uh, Mom, yeah, I kinda would. Where's Dad?

Dad took the dog to daycare because she got a little crazy last night. We don't know why but Dad said she needed a little, 'not in this house time'.

Show me the note, Mom.

Dear Aunt Becks,

I'm sorry I missed you. You were already asleep when I came by. I wanted to give you something. When you wake up and read this, I want you to drink it right away. OK? Promise me. OK, good.

I want you to know how much I love you and I want you to keep that for the rest of your life. It's important to me. OK? OK, good.

I love you, Becks, more than anything.

What did you drink, Mom?

Oh, I don't know. It was like fairy dust but greener.

Greener?! Come on, Mom, what did you drink? 

I don't know. It was in a little tea cup, a tea cup I had when I was seven but it broke. It was on my night table and it was whole again and about half full of, uh, green vapor?

And you drank this.

I did.

Can you show me the cup?

I can.

His mother retrieved a tiny porcelain tea cup from her bedroom. A pale green residue clung to the bottom of the cup, like those greenish lights that show up in the sound sometimes. He sniffed at it and smelled nothing. The smell was gone but the residue was still inside the bottom of the cup, slick and bright. He stuck a finger into the cup, scooped up the last of the light and put it to his mouth.

NO! His mother screamed. That isn't FOR you! You can only have what is for YOU! 

He ran water over his hands and went back downstairs to the bottle of Jameson's lying on its side. He could smell something more than whiskey. He could smell his cousin like she'd just come off the trail, all sweaty and needing to be fire hosed before anybody let her in the house. He picked the bottle up, unscrewed the top and raised it to his lips.

She was right there in front of him and then she had to go. So many people to say good-bye to. I can't miss anyone, it would be awful.

He wanted to tell her that the cross decomposed years ago. He wanted to tell her she was still carrying the weight. He wanted to tell her he'd walk through walls. And she was gone. 

There was a note on the piano.

"Please go get the mail. I love you more than air"