“You’ll find her at the corner of Hansel and University at the edge of an orange grove.” I answered the phone at 3am. The phone attached to the wall in the kitchen. It’s years before cell phones. Phones still had cords.
Her friends left her drunk at the side of the road. I found her in the dirt, rocking, her knees pressed against her chest. An orange had landed beside her, too heavy for the tree to hold onto. Abandoned. Lost from the rest. She had been treated like a pariah. She was 13. A kid in need of help like a toddler who can’t find her mom because mom has walked into another room.
I was 16. It was a good thing I drove and knew where the keys to my parents’ car were. I hoped she wouldn’t be sick in the car. Helping her get into the car was like moving a bag of pastry flour from the pantry to the counter. It takes two hands. She is dead weight with no handle.
There was no conversation on the way home. I left the radio off on the chance that she might want to talk. She was silent. A stone settled into mud. A body settled into leather.
Once home, I helped her to the toilet. I had to pull her pants down. Unzip her so she could pee. I left her alone, giving her a little bit of privacy. Ten minutes later and she was still on the toilet. She had passed out.
Somehow, I managed to get her into bed. Fortunately no puke gathered in her lap.
I pulled her desk chair beside the bed and sat. Someone had told me that a drunk person could get sick and drown on their own puke. I was a big sister taking care of my little sister. I was a light from a flash light, the beam steady on her face. Even passed out, she was beautiful.
So, if you read my blog a few weeks ago, you know that I ran into her again after seven years of no contact. She is 49 today. She looked like a homeless crack addict. It saddens me to know I can’t dump her into bed and watch her. She hasn’t telephoned yet. She remains lost to me. It hurts. I am tied to her like a helium balloon to a string in the hands of God. Hopefully, when the ballon pops, it will be reeled in and given the chance for new life. Not thrown in the trash but smoothed out on the desk. A picture of a kid playing in water on its rubber surface.