“Please, Mother, let me have a drink, just a short one to get me through this trying time. Please.” Jenny begged with clasped hands.
“I got your father through worse than you are feeling now. Trust me, Jenny. We can do this. From what I learned you won’t go through ‘the shakes.’ You’re not drinking long enough.” Emma was firm but her look of sadness said otherwise.
“You say ‘we’ but you can’t imagine what I’m going through right now. I’ve heard all about the D.T.’s, what you call ‘the shakes.’ I looked them up in the library when Dad was so sick. They are Delirium Tremens. I know how you want to die. How do you know I’ll survive?”
“You may not get them, you know. And the doc will know what to give you, if you do.” Emma had a far off stare, remembering her experience with the D.T.’s, when her husband went through several days of tremors and memory loss until he started getting better. It was when she decided to become a nurse. She had a family to support and his years of drinking had equipped her to deal with the backbone need to get through it. Nursing seemed a natural.
“You told the doctor?” she tried to keep panic from her voice.
“Jim did. He only wanted to help, and we may need the doc, but I don’t think so.”
“I’m mortified to ever go there again. What must he think of me?” She began to moan in a low gurgle.
“He will only think that one of his patients needs help.” Emma ignored her outstretched arms and cut the slab of beef into cubes for the soup.
They spoke quietly because Mike was taking a nap in the next room. Trish still had not returned from Gwen’s.
“I wonder why she hasn’t called. I would have thought she would have hurried home to see Mike. She thinks of him as the grandfather she never knew.” Emma was putting the soup pot on the small stove.
“I can tell you why. We had a little row over her choice of boyfriends, and she definitely doesn’t want to see me.” Jenny cleaned a stalk of celery and began chopping it with shaky hands.
“Good for you to keep busy,” Emma turned and put her arms around Jenny. “It will help you through these rough times.”
“I don’t want the rough times. I want a drink, just a small one.”
“Look, Jen, I have scoured this place from top to bottom and I can tell you, there’s no booze in this house and I’m not letting you out of my sight. Now start on the carrots.”She grabbed a bunch from the refrigerator, pulled them apart and practically threw them on the cutting board in front of Jenny.
“Never mind the carrots, I’m going to call Gwen’s. She must have said when she was coming home. Maybe she’s waiting for a ride.” Jenny started to dial but kept forgetting the numbers, finally looking it up in the small blue book.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you. Kids don’t like to be checked on once they told you where they were going, and, especially at 16.” Emma stirred the pot but turned abruptly when she heard the phone drop.
Jenny was white. She had cut herself and Emma ran to stop the flow of blood from her finger. She could hardly concentrate on the cut when she saw the pallor of Trish’s face.
“She was never at Gwen’s. She lied to us. They don’t have any idea where she is.” Trish cried and held her good hand over the oozing finger.
Emma rushed to the medicine cabinet in the bathroom and quickly returned and wrapped her finger is a thick bandage. Automatically she washed the carrots in the sink. The decision to call Jim was out of her hands now. She hoped Mike was in for a long nap while they faced the next crisis.