Her mother called a few days later, asking for help with cleaning out the house. Too big of a job to do with only one hand, she said. Andrea almost refused.
Andrea sat silently in the driveway for a long moment, before finally going inside. Her mother greeted her at the door, hugged her, and then immediately began giving her instructions on what needed to be done around the house.
“You’ve been so much help since I hurt my arm, Andy.” Her mother said as she pulled a box of junk of one of the shelves, “Don’t know how to thank you.”
“Could you give me an honest answer about something? If so, I’d call it even.”
“Why’d you tell me that Paul wasn’t my father? Better yet, why’d you tell him?” Katherine seemed caught off guard, like she’d expected Andrea to say something else. Anything else.
“I-I couldn’t live with that sin anymore, you have to understand. I had to tell the truth. They put Paul on that transplant list and I realized I wouldn’t have forever…”
Well, Now I’ve got to live with it too. Andrea wanted to say, but didn’t. She didn’t say anything at all. She had to live with a lot of things these days.
“I always told myself I was going to wait until you moved out, so he wouldn’t try to take it out on you too.” Somehow, that made it worse. “But then he got sick, and somebody had to take care of him… I never wanted to drag you back into the mess I made.” As far as Andrea could tell, that was what her mother had done since the moment she was born, and yet she couldn’t shake the urge to protect her.
“It’s…fine, mom. Don’t worry about it.”
After what felt like an eternity, they worked their way into the kitchen. Andrea was wiping down the counters, when she heard her mother make a tiny sound of confusion behind her, as she riffled through the cabinet below the sink. When Andrea turned around, her mother had a bottle of anti-freeze in her hands. The bottle of anti-freeze.
Andrea couldn’t breath. Her blood ran cold.
“What’s this doing here?” she asked, “Andrea, do you know why this is in here? The last time I checked it wasn’t- Are you alright?”
“I-I, uh, Paul asked me to bring it in from the garage. When I was taking care of him.”
“Why would he do that?”
“He, uh, said something about getting rid of a stray dog.”
Her mother stares at her for a moment, “Right. That… sounds like him. Well. Take it back out there when you get a chance, I don’t want it in here around the food.” she said, brushing past Andrea on her way out of the kitchen.
“Where are you going?”
“Sorry, honey. I think I just need to lie down.”
Now that she was alone, Andrea leaned heavy onto the counter she’d been cleaning, her shoulders shaking with silent sobs.