Karen Miller, 48
I look up at the apartment window before getting into my car. He
is standing there. Our eyes meet.
His face is blank as he stares down at me. I don't know what to
do with him. He's twenty years old and going no where. His girl
friend left him. He's failing two classes at the community
college. He can't find a job so he has no cash or car. He
lives with me but doesn't do a thing around the house.
The boy thinks he has problems. He doesn't know what real
problems are. I was a single mother when I was his age. I
worked two jobs to support myself through nursing school. I
wasn't going to give up just because his bum father deserted us.
We couldn't afford a fancy life. But there was always food to
eat and he had clean clothes to wear. I kept a roof over our
heads. I wasn't home much but I did the best I could.
Now I'm headed to the ER for another 12-hour night shift. I
don't want to go. I don't want to leave him alone. I called
in sick the past two nights. If I don't go tonight, I'll be
fired. We can't afford that.
I gaze into my son's eyes. They are blue like the ocean and he
is drowning. I can see a black shadow in those eyes. Death
lurks nearby. I know he wants to die.
I've tried to help. I took him to the psych department at the
hospital. They gave him pills and told him to make an
appointment with a counselor. Then they sent him home. He
doesn't take the pills. I count them every day but the number
never changes. Forget the counselor. He hasn't left the
apartment in two weeks. He doesn't want to get better. He jus
fades away a little more each day. .
I can't handle his mood swings. Yesterday he cried and told me
he loves me. Tonight he screamed at me to go to hell.
I know he wants to die. But I can't stay with him. I need
this job. He'll be okay for one more night. He has to be.
We don't have a gun. He's too big to drown himself in the
bathtub. I emptied the medicine cabinet and took all our razors.
I got the knives from the kitchen and the ball of twine from the
storage closet. There's no other rope in the apartment. I don't
think he'd set the place on fire. Just in case, I took all the
I stare into his eyes one more second and then get into my car.
He'll be okay. Please let him be okay.
Justin Miller, 20
I watch my mother from the apartment window as she gets into her
car. She stops and looks up at me. Our eyes meet. She looks
She doesn't understand me. She thinks I have it easy compared to
her. She was a single mother because my father abandoned us.
That wasn't my fault. I never asked to be born.
I wish I could go back to the land of unborn souls. It would be
so peaceful there. So quiet and calm.
I'm not depressed because my girlfriend dumped me or because
college is hard. It's more than that. It's life itself. It's
the pain of existing at all.
I'm so tired. I just want to sleep. It takes too much effort to
get out of bed. I wish she'd understand that and leave me
I look into her eyes and I know what she fears. She thinks I'm
going to kill myself. Maybe I should. It would be so much
easier that way. The pills are useless. I'm not going to talk
to some stupid counselor. How can I tell a stranger about my
No, death would be the best way. Fast and simple. Then it would
all be over.
She took the knives, razors and all the medicine in the
apartment. I'm sure there's another way. I just have to search.
I'll find a way out of this misery.
We gaze at each other for another moment before she gets into
her car. I do love her but it's not enough. I'm sorry, Mom.
Karen Miller, 48,
I've been working for six hours. We've had a car accident, two
stabbings and a gun shot victim. All that gore and blood.... The
horrors of what people can do to each other.
All I can think about is my son. I've called three times but
he's not answering the phone. Is he asleep again? Is he trying
to shut me out? Or is it something more?
Maybe I should call the police. Someone needs to check on him.
What if it's already too late?
An ambulance comes racing into the ER bay. The siren wails like
a scream inside my head. Back to work. I will save someone
else's life tonight.
The paramedic shouts while she wheels out the gurney. "White
male. 20 years old. Apparent suicide attempt. Drank Antifreeze
and then called 911....."
Her voice drones on but I can no longer hear it. The sound of
my blood roars in my ears. My heart is in my throat. I am
frozen with shock and fear.
Antifreeze? I forgot the antifreeze. There was a bottle in
the storage closet. Did he find it? Did he drink it?
They yell at me to move. "Get to work!!) I can't. i'm paralyzed.
Don't they understand? Don't they know who this is?
No, it can't be him. Don't let it be him. I must know. I must
I push past the doctors and nurses and gaze down at his face.
His eyes stare up at me. Still and lifeless. Chocolate brown.
The eyes of a stranger. This isn't my son.
Angela C. Orlando