Happy New Year

Written by Gabriella Troy
Art by cottonbro

Mom welcomed me on the couch when I finally decided to return home. I usually avoid home, where the air is ripe with beer and the paint is chipped on all three walls and the mailbox is off its hinges–no one knows its address anyway. 

It was a bit harder this time, without you to play mediator. I like to cry and smash plates and scream words that can’t be taken back. I like to get into an argument about who’s capable of raising a family and who’s grown up to be worthy of anything, but mom kept her eyes closed the whole time.

It was just me and mom this year. I don’t know why I came back; everything good was gone except all the dolls and legos that were replaced by wine bottles in the basement. I had a party all on my own, the ceiling spinning with a disco of stains and blood and meaningless dreams.

I made a lot of promises to myself that night. They went something along the lines of sobering up to smile at life and never returning to the sickness of home. But home plagues me anywhere I go, dragging me back when I think I can see the sun behind the clouds. New Year’s resolutions are meant to be broken.

Even the most perfect people are incapable of staying true to their word. Life doesn’t turn out as planned, no matter how many twists and turns you list, no matter how simple buying groceries is supposed to be. Sometimes perfect people turn their backs on purpose. (Perfect people don’t exist).

I thought you were perfect for me, until I found myself alone in my dorm drowning in lost hope and regret and whiskey. My dorm is the only place I ever am, but my roommate doesn’t know my name. I don’t know hers either.

I wonder how life would have turned out if the sun hadn’t burned through dad’s lifeline and I hadn’t tasted my first sip of heaven from mom’s cabinet after you left the hospital, left me in tears, incapable of looking up from the ground. I learned my lesson: never wear sunscreen.

Maybe next year I’ll succeed in avoiding home. That’s a resolution I’m more likely to keep: I’ll send a postcard decorated with flowers and candles and tombstones to remind mom that the house still exists. And there’s a home where she can finally breathe.