Day 4: Choices, part two

December 29, 2020

When my mother knew she was dying, she asked her sister to take care of my brother. She knew I would be fine, my aunt told me recently, but she feared for him.

I begged her to come to me in a dream last night, and tell me what to do.

She didn’t.

She never ever has.

Maybe she thinks I don’t need it.

At 3ish yesterday, my brother came down with dirty dishes, and to tell me the tow yard was only 4 miles away. The proprietor said if he came by 4:30, he would knock off $200 from the fee.

So excited to have his car back for only $400, he looked at me expectantly.

“You don’t need a car unless you’re going home.”

“But if I don’t get it now, they’ll keep charging…If I go home, the store with beer is a quick walk away and I feel stronger here.”

I don’t think these two statements were made in rapid succession, but they are the only ones I heard.

We arrived at the tow shop in the bad part of town at about 3:20. When he went to the window, I noticed he had a gaping hole in his unnaturally baggy sweatpants, right where you don’t want one.

“They need cash. Let’s go to a bank and I can get an advance on my credit card.”

I am beyond protesting. Beyond reasoning. I am on autopilot and peace is within reach.

I drove him 2 miles to the nearest bank, which turned out to be his. He has (again) borrowed money from one of those high-interest cash advance places based on who-knows-what. A car title? I wonder if he hoped he’d die before paying it back.

We started back to the tow shop and he realized he didn’t have his keys. We drove a mile back to my house, then started over again. He pleaded by phone for the proprietor to please stay open until we arrived.

“Is this worth it to you? To keep me from the work I need to do?”

I didn’t listen to his justifications about having no other choice. I didn’t speak again.

His car has a perpetual flat tire but he is prepared with an air pump.

“It’ll take 10-15 minutes to fill. Can you drive behind me so a cop doesn’t see my expired tags?”

I watch him weave in the lane, favoring the center and forcing cars to adjust to the intrusion into their space. I hope he doesn’t kill someone someday.

Safe at my home, he sighs the sigh of a contented man.

“Thank you for pushing me” he says, and retires for the night.

I wake at 5 every morning to work out and then to be silent while the sun rises. Today, I stared at my Christmas tree, which has been up since October 14th. I needed joy this year, but I feel none today.

I think only of his statement yesterday. The beer store is so close and he feels stronger here. It’s a threat, isn’t it? If I don’t let him stay, he will drink and it will be my fault. But if I am the thing keeping him from beer, then he doesn’t need to work at all on why he wants it, or choosing to not drink it.

I think of his choice to retrieve a car he doesn’t need with funds he hasn’t earned.

I think of the time I lost yesterday indulging his whim, adjusting to his intrusion into my life like all those cars forced aside. But no one forced me.

His AA zoom was at 9:30 and I determined not to wake him this time.

At 9:15 I heard the shower and left food at the door.

No zoom at 9:30.

But the TV is blaring.

I tear down my Christmas tree in preparation for what’s to come.

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