Dancing With DangerBy: Cristina Grenier
She forced herself not to flinch as she walked past her mother, heading down the dark hallway to her bedroom. As she moved around, shoving clothes and her laptop into a bag, she heard Leandra muttering to herself and heading into the kitchen.
To get another bottle, more than likely.
Yeah, she wasn’t sticking around for that.
Snatching her keys off her dresser, she left her room, using a tiny key on the key ring to lock her bedroom door. Her mother had gone in and rifled around looking for money before while Andrea was gone, and she’d installed a doorknob with a lock the very next day to prevent it from happening again.
“Yeah, you get on outta here,” Leandra slurred as Andrea walked past her in the kitchen. “Who needs you anyway?”
“Try not to cut yourself on the glass in the living room,” was all Andrea said as she opened the front door and then let it swing shut behind her. For a second she entertained the idea of going back in and cleaning up the glass herself, knowing Leandra wouldn’t do it, but she decided against it in the end.
Leandra was a grown woman, for all she acted like a child these days, and Andrea was tired. She’d been cleaning up her mother’s messes for years, and right now she wanted to be far away from them.
She sighed as she got into her car, leaning her head back against the seat and letting out a low breath. Her own anger melted away as she sat there, and she was left feeling sad and worn down.
Before she could slip into that mood fully, she picked up her phone and texted her brother.
Benjamin Samuel had washed his hands of his mother’s foolishness years ago, but he understood Andrea’s need to care for the woman who’d raised them. To a certain extent, anyway.
He thought that it would be better for Andrea to leave their mother to her own devices, but he didn’t nag her about it, and he was always there when Andrea needed him. So when her phone vibrated and the text from Ben was urging her to come over, she smiled and put her car in gear.
Ben was the older of the two of them by five years. He lived in a small apartment not too far from the house they’d grown up in, and he worked in security. Whenever things got too bad with Leandra, Ben was always more than willing to let Andrea crash on his couch, and she appreciated it.
Even though there was a five year age gap between them, losing their father when they were very young and their mother’s subsequent descent into alcoholism had done a lot to bond them together, and even though they were both adults now, they were still very close.
She didn’t even have to explain anymore. All she had to do was text him an angry looking emoji, and he knew what she needed.
With so much of her life being based in chaos, it was nice that she had him to offer some stability.
She parked in front of his building and made her way up the stairs to his floor, bypassing the elevator, which had a tendency to get stuck when it felt like it. Spending a couple of hours trapped inside of it didn’t sound like a good way to make her afternoon any better.
Ben was waiting for her when she made it to his apartment, and he let her in, eyes taking in her expression with one once over.
“That bad, huh?” he asked.
Andrea sighed. “She threw something at me.”
“Something like one of her slippers or something like a weapon?”
“Something like the quarter full bottle of vodka she’d been nursing all morning,” Andrea replied bitterly. “It’s still in a broken heap in the living room.”
Ben’s eyebrows went up. “That’s crossing a serious line, Drea. You know that, right? It’s one thing for her to yell at you and call you names all the time, which I mean, isn’t good, but her throwing stuff is just moving towards hitting you.”
“I know, Ben,” Andrea sighed. She dropped onto his couch and put her head in her hands with a drawn out groan.
"No, Ben," Andrea said firmly. "I already know what you're gonna say and the answer is no. It's been no since forever, and you know it."
They'd had this conversation before. Several times, actually. Their mother's descent into alcoholism had bothered both of them, and they'd banded together, trying to do something to make her feel better, to take care of her, to show her that she didn't need to drown herself in liquor because she had them.
Needless to say, that hadn't worked very well at all. Leandra had lashed out at both of her children, and when they were both old enough that they were living with their mother by choice instead of because they were too young to live anywhere else, Ben had left.
He'd clearly had enough of the way their mother talked to them and how she could turn anything into an argument and lash out at them for no good reason at all. It had been too much, and as soon as he'd had the money to move out of their little house, he had.