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Steph Harlow


She walked in the door and collapsed on her bed after a long day of work. Changed into her stained extra large t-shirt that was ripped at the seams of the collar, ready to unwind. Ready to be the narrator of her own story.

“Mom!” I screeched.

She is in her zone. She has chosen selective hearing.

“Mom!” Nothing.

“MOM!!!” Nothing

“FUCKING CAROLE!!!!” Finally my piercing cries caught her attention but came second to her game of words with friends. After all, what could possibly be more important than her words with friends competition.

“Just a minute,” she said. Eyes beaming as foolish pride came over her. “i just earned 70 points for one word! she said psyched about her accomplishment. Her opponent didn’t stand a chance.

“Please mom,” i shrieked. “Avert your eyes. Let go of your naive. He’s high again.”

“What? High again? He can’t be. There’s no way. He has been clean since November.” she reluctantly replied

“MOM! I saw him him at noon. He came downstairs incoherent. He came down and i immediately knew. He relapsed. I asked him mom. I said “are you high?” He tripped over his own two feet, wandered into the living room, put his best “im composed act on” and mumbled no. Then rushed upstairs into hiding.”

After the moment of unintelligible discourse passed and he ran up the stairs, i yelled up “you forgot your pizza.” He was too high to care. He knew i knew and was too smart to come back downstairs “hungry”

My question was nothing more than a bee sting. An annoying buzz in his ear followed by a minor sting that he would soon forget after he fell into a deep sleep. No one was getting in the way this time. He had been clean seven months. He saved up thousands of dollars. He deserved this.

“OK, Laura. OK, ill check on him my mother said in a state of complete bewilderment.”

I told her to hurry. I hadnt seen him since noon and it was 5 p.m.

She came back down and said “hes fine. You were wrong. Hes clean and sober and sleeping.”

Mom knows best i guess. Consoled by her observation i muddled out for the rest of the night. But. i woke up the next morning angry. So angry. I wasnt fucking wrong. Fuck him. Fuck her. I know high when i see it. I needed to vent, but no one would listen So i began writing.. a poem. prose. Im not sure. I just had to write…. so i wrote…

Fuck you

I want to base my theory of a dead man on you, every day you look more and more like a science project to me and less like a human being.

You have the ugliest fucking eyes on this earth. I detected every fucking lie you have ever told me in them, in the dilation of your pupils, fucking junkie

I am sickened by your face and if pathetic had one I imagine it would look just like yours

I never understood why America found it necessary to maintain enough weapons of mass destruction to blow up the world 12 times when there was only 1 world until now. I want to destroy you again, and again, and again and again, and again, and again and again, and again, and again and again and again and one more time again.

You’re a fucking joke, nobody cares when the tears of a clown fall down so unless you’re on them praying get the fuck off your knees, stop begging me for money I am not giving you shit.

I overheard you tell that girl last night that she could “sniff a line of your heroin but you weren’t going to let her inject it because you care about her.” How fucking disgusting of a romantic are you?

There is something poetic about your addiction, a morbid kind of poetic, like Dantes inferno, you know that place your going to end up when you overdose and I don’t cry

I tried to include myself in the bond that seems unbreakable between our other two siblings, since you fucking poured kerosene on ours and let it burn. I attempted to gossip and watch baseball with them, but I couldn’t last longer than 3 minutes.

that contagious laugh you used to have, I would give anything to hear it again.

I miss you so fucking much.

I would still take a bullet for you

I don’t know who I am anymore without you, half of me is gone.

If I had one wish I would give it to you.

All of m…

It was 5:01. My phone rang. It was mom. Fucking mom. What does she want this time? To tell me about my dentist appointment next tuesday? To make me “yes” her til i had no yes left to give. To ask if i want her to pick me up some dinner. Mom. the same generic phone call every day. Meaningless. Right as i went to hit the ignore button, as i usually do something compelled me to pick up. I was in my zone though. I was writing. I didnt want to talk. Thats what id say.

What mom? Im busy.

LAURA!!?!?!?! LAURA?!?! Laura hello. Are you there. Go check on pat. Please. GO CHECK ON PAT.

A feeling came over me. A feeling of sheer terror. Her fear was contagious. It’s 5:04. Okay mom im walking up now.


Its still 5:04.

I walk up the stair. I enter his room and my heart dropped to my stomach. Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my fucking god.


Fight or flight. Fight or flight. Fight. Okay. You can do this. Oh my fucking god. He is blue. “SARAH WHY THE FUCK DIDNT YOU CALL 911. GET ON THE FUCKING PHONE AND CALL 911.”

He was blue. He was cold. He was laying on his bed. It took all my strength to push him on the floor.


“Laura what the fuck was that noise? Laura! Laura! Are you there?”

But i couldnt respond. I had a job to do.

I pumped his chest. Weeping. “PATRICK! WAKE UP…! Oh my god. PLEASE.” I pumped and i pumped and i pumped until the exhaustion begged me to give up. Have you ever felt your soul die?

I proceeded with mouth to mouth. Nothing.

I pumped and i pumped and i pumped and i pumped. And my brother picked up my phone and said “narrate the situation as gently as possible. Dont tell her anything.” Then i turned to sarah and i said “WHY THE FUCK DIDNT YOU CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY. DID YOU CALL?”

I didnt bother listening to her answer.

Her face. anorexic fucking cowardly whiny bitch. I wanted to beat the shit out of her. I wanted to stop what i was doing and knock her the fuck out. Paralyze her. Not in the way i was paralyzed in the moment. Her fucking face. Skinny little bitch. I could snap her neck.

More mouth to mouth. This time blood came gushing out of his nose and vomit came gurgling out of his mouth. Okay, i impelled something. At least theres something. I swallowed a pint of blood and vomit. It was gross. I didnt care. I just kept going for what seemed like an eternity.

“HELP. I NEED HELP.” I yelled at her. Ill call her “her” because she doesnt deserve a name. “HELP ME. DO THE MOUTH THING AND ILL PUMP AND PAULIE, STAY ON THE PHONE.”

The tears started to swell, i was so tired. They didnt fall but they crashed around her. And him. And Paulie. Sometimes i wonder what paulie saw. What he was thinking. A witness to watching me fight for a life that had been gone for hours. I wonder if he knew. I wonder if he was already in shock. He had to of been. Shock. What a lovely emotion. The world stops turning and your heart feels nothing. Like his. I didnt think this until after the first responders arrived but when they did and i left the room i got it. He had told me hei saw a man row a boat once. The sun made the water glisten like it was made of a billion diamonds. It was beautiful. He rowed the same boat. The sun was shining. The water was shimmering. It was beautiful, but he didnt care. He was a man of constant nothing.

I finally knew what nothing felt like. I finally relieved my brother from calming my mother. She asked me if he was ok. I knew he wasnt. We all did.

“Im coming straight home.”

“No mom, lets meet at the hospital.” I feared that had she known our home was now considered a crime scene she would of died of a broken heart.

“Ok, she said after defiance. Ok, ill see you at the hospital. Im almost there. Hurry.”

The four of us just sat there and stared at eachother. I was the only one who knew. I knew he was gone. They were still in denial. My brother and sister. But Her, she was scared shitless. A coward. All she had to say was “im not in trouble right. The good samaritan law applies to me right?”

I told her to get the fuck out of my house. The police officer said she had to stay. Okay, so she stays. Outside. He told us we had to stay too, it was a crime scene. I begged him to let us go. I couldn’t let my mother hear the news alone. Please officer. Let us go.

“Im so sorry, but i cant. 30 minutes have passed. Im still lying through my teeth to my mother. I know in 10 minutes shell never be the same. I know in 10 minutes her heart will shatter into 1000000 pieces. I know its our job to pick as many of them up as possible. Im thinking logically now. Please, officer. Can two of us go? She cant find this out alone.

It took 8 firefighters to get him down the stairs. His face was covered. Theres something about your brother being in body bag that makes a man of the law bend into empathy. “Okay, he said softly. Go. ‘HER’ has to stay though.

We took off as the ambulance did. Completely silent with mom still on the other end of the phone. They beat us there. So did she. The doctor came out and pronounced him dead at 5:05 p.m. She was alone.

“HES DEAD LAURA” she squealed. “Laura hes dead.” She collapsed to her knees and weeped. And weeped. And Weeped.

Fuck, we thought. We need to get there now.

When we arrived she asked if we could see him. They said yes. We walked through the corrider. All the sick men and women sat up as if they were saluting us. As if they were supporting us. Its an eerie feeling, when men and women on their death bed are concerned about you.

We entered the room. “I FUCKING HATE YOU, PATRICK. I FUCKING HATE YOU. I FUCKING HATE YOU.” she bawled out. Slapping his lifeless, blue body. There was an oxygen mask with blood all over it coming out of his mouth. “I FUCKING HATE YOU” she roared again.

I held his hand. Cold. Limp. A fuck you tattoo on each finger and a jaegermister tattoo on his shoulder, exposed. His socks were mismatched. That got my sister. My brother just stared at him. I had to stay strong. We all did. No one can prepare you for this moment.

“Im sorry but im going to have to ask you to leave the room said the doctor.”

As my mom made her exit, as we all did, she sprinted back in the room. “Im sorry patrick, I love you. Im sorry. I cant leave him by himself. PATRICK!

“Im sorry but i need to escort you out”

“I cant leave him alone” she said. “PATRICK!!!! IM RIGHT HERE.” She layed her head on his shoulder. “PAT!!! Can you hear me?”

“Your father, brother and sisters are here waiting for you, let me take you too them”

“Ok” she said reluctantly. “PATRICK ILL BE RIGHT BACK! Dont worry. Ill be right back. Hes going to be ok, right? RIGHT?”

“Let me take you to your family said the doctor.”

As she exited i decided to go in and take one last look at him. All living organisms emit low intensity light at the time of death. Radiation is ten to 1,000 times stronger than that emitted under normal conditions. Cold and flatlined the first time in my life i prayed that this luminescence was god. Then i realized if it was god he had just stolen my brother and i prayed that the mighty lord hadnt heard my prayer. My brother deserves better.