My Real Country Family
By: CS Fox
If you ever want to choke on reality… try being the teen in-between your parents divorce; the messier the better. I don’t think there is anything quite as painful as getting sold out by people you love.
“Madison’s unhappy because you’re gone all the time!”
“Oh right! And it has nothing to do with your drinking? You could drink irish dock workers under the table!”
“What about the money? We’re destitute, I don’t even know how I’ll afford groceries next week.”
“You could try opening your legs? You certainly don’t for me.”
“How about you get a job dead beat. Do you think Madison is going to pay for college with hopes and dreams?”
I’ve always said a little prayer every night that I wouldn’t be woken by the sound of their fighting… or at the very least that they wouldn’t use my name when they did. I don’t think god listens to me any more since I stopped going to church.
The divorce took about a year, with the fighting intensifying in the last month. The final kicker was that both of them decided they wanted to start anew, without a significant other… or child. They used my name in vain for plenty of violent arguments, but when the dust settled… it turned out I was an inconvenience.
The judge awarded the house to mom, and in just about every circumstance, custody of the child goes to mom too, but what happens when mom and dad just aren’t interested in anything but themselves? … the answer is that you find out just how selfish people can be.
It was two days after the final divorce proceedings that my mom told me I was going to be living with my older cousin. Mom wanted her own life, and my cousin had offered on my behalf to let me live with her. I had nothing going, and no reason to stay with my mom any more, so I agreed, not understanding just what I was getting into.
My cousin Sherry was sort of the black sheep of the family, well, next to me, my mom and dad of course. She was artsy, whimsical, and sin of sins; unmarried at 26. My poor family has the long distinguished past of early pregnancies and marriage soon after. If a girl wasn’t pregnant at 19 by the latest, and unhappily married by 20, something was wrong. So the rest of the family just referred to her as a spinster. I’m 16, and I already hear plenty about the virtues of finding a virile man.
After things were decided between my cousin and my mom, I dropped off at a bus station with a vague description of how I’d be reaching my cousin. Sherry lived ten hours away… wayyyy out in the country. I had some clothes stuffed into a bag and a little money, but not much else. There were some tearful good byes to my friends, but to be honest, I didn’t really have many. Having a broken family tends to cause you to alienate yourself in the hopes you don’t ruin anyone else’s life with your own. I guess like mom and dad, I’d get to start anew… out in the country. Sherry and I naturally gravitated toward each other in family functions and I always liked hearing her crazy stories about the shenanigans she got into with boys.
As I got on the bus, I was actually looking forward to living with someone who at least had a passing interest in my life. When I arrived, I took my bag and got out into the night. It was summer, school had been out a few weeks, but it was still a little chilly. I probably looked out of place as I got off the bus wearing jeans and a dark blue hoodie in the middle of nowhere.
I looked around to see my cousin waving from a pick-up. I shouldered my bag and waved back.
“It’s good to see you,” Sherry said as she stepped out of her truck and walked toward me. We looked completely different, me in my urban wear, her in tight jeans, a shirt showing off her midriff, and a cowboy hat. “Long trip out here huh?”
I shrugged. “It wasn’t too bad.”
“Do you have all your bags?”
I had just one bag, a nike sports bag with whatever clothes I cared the most about packed inside like dirty laundry.
“Just the one,” I said.
Shelly looked at me curiously for a moment but then smiled and slapped the bed of her truck. “Toss it in, let’s head home.”
I threw my bag in the back and got up in the cab with Shelly. “It’ll only be about an hour before we reach the farm,” she said moving a clunky shift into gear. “Winchester was the closest bus station.”
“Thanks for letting me come to live with you.”
Sherry laughed. “Don’t worry about it, you’ll actually be doing me a favor.”
I looked at her a little confused. “What do you mean?”
“Well…… I sort of have this boyfriend.”
“Yah well, it’s kind of weird, I haven’t actually met him in person yet, and he’ll be coming by to visit soon.”
Now I was a little more confused. “Umm… will I be intruding?”
“No no, its not that, I’m just going to need your help is all.”
“What kind of help?” I raised a suspicious eyebrow. Sherry had a reputation. I’d never really had a boyfriend. I couldn’t see any way that I’d be helpful.
“I sort of told Will a few stories that weren’t really true… but with you, we could make them true.”
“I’m going to regret living with you aren’t I?”
“Probably… now here’s the thing. Will is super cute, owns his own business, already married but widowed a few years ago… car accident… and has a daughter.”
“Kay….” I said trying to process the rapid fire information.
“I’m a farm owner, which is true enough, and even though I don’t have any livestock, I spend most of my time looking after my special needs little sister, who coincidently has the exact same problem as his daughter.”
I slapped my forehead. “Don’t tell me.”
“I even used your name since the get go. So you’re my new sister Madison… with um… special needs. You got in a car accident two years back and became completely incontinent. Will’s daughter was in a car wreck with his wife three years ago. His wife didn’t survive, and Will’s daughter lost her left leg and suffers incontinence from it.”
“Stop the car.”
Sherry laughed. “What? I still haven’t finished.”
“STOP THE F***ING CAR!”
Sherry looked at me shocked, but pulled over and slowed the car to a stop.
“Umm… you okay?” She asked taking her hands off the wheel.
I didn’t answer I just got out of the car, got my bag and started walking. I hadn’t seen my cousin in a year or two, but in that time I had apparently forgotten her family name was well deserved and she was a total flake.
“Madison?” she called, getting out of the truck. “Madison where are you going?”
“You’re retarded if you think I’m going to join in whatever scheme this is. What the hell is wrong with you?”
“But you always liked my stories, I thought you’d jump at the chance to be part of one.”
I stopped walking and threw my bag down. “You want me to pretend to be a cripple for a guy!”
“No… I want you to pretend to be incontinent for a father and his daughter. Incontinence isn’t crippled, but umm I think it does count as a handicap, I’m not really sure.”
“What the hell is incontinence anyway? Is that where I can’t talk and have to wave my arms to speak?”
“Noo… I think that’s mute. Incontinence means you wear diapers and pee yourself.”
I started walking again. Why did my life have to suck this much? My mom and dad didn’t want me, my cousin only wanted me so she could use me for something completely off the wall.
“Madison… Please, I really need your help. Where are you going to go?”
I clenched a fist and flung my bag at her. “Sherry. My parents just divorced and left me. I don’t know where the hell I’m going to go. I had HOPED I could come live with you and try to piece together my life again, but either you’re playing the meanest joke on me that I can think of or you’re so batshit insane that you’ve completely lost touch with reality.”
“$2000 if you do it for one week.”
“I’m serious. Please?” She took off her cowboy hat and held it in both her hands. “You don’t understand. Just hear me out, you have to know this guy, read the chat logs I’ve had with him… whatever… he has a golden heart and I’ve never been this in love before. It’s only for a week.”
I felt pretty stupid standing on a country road in the middle of the night having this ridiculous conversation with my cousin. “It’s not my problem that you lied to him.”
“I’ll give you $5000 and I’ll drive you to wherever you want after the week is done.”
I clenched both my fists, swore, thought over my options, and stomped toward her. “I don’t like this, and if this turns out to be a joke, I’ll dedicate the rest of my life to destroying yours.”
I grabbed my bag, threw it in the bed of her truck and got back in the cab. Sherry put her hat back on and started driving. We both sat in silence for a while.
“Will is coming to visit with his daughter on Monday. Her name is Anna.”
I put my iPod earphones in and put my hoodie up. Sherry took the hint and kept driving. It was Saturday night, if she was to be believed, her mystery boyfriend would be here the day after tomorrow. …I wasn’t happy.
Eventually we reached Sherry’s place. She lived on a farm she had inherited from Grandma. Our family used to be big in farms a few generations ago, but somehow that’d changed. My mom wasn’t really one to sit me down and talk about our family history, so all I knew was that Sherry had a couple acres and a two story house all to herself.
She pulled the truck up and we got out. I was partially impressed because it was a very classic farm house kind of look, complete with wrap around front porch. Sherry let us in and quickly guided us up the stairs where she showed me to my room.
“I’ve already taken the liberty of setting it up just the way my ‘sister’ would have it.”
I didn’t like the way she said sister. “Do I want to know what that means?”
Sherry shrugged dumbly. “Check your closet if you’re curious. I’m heading to bed, it’s late.” And she left me standing with my bag and a curious angry look on my face. What the hell was I getting into? Did she even have $5000?
I dropped my bag and went to the closet. If anything she had my curiosity. I opened it up to find nothing but what should be in the normal closet of a guest room… oh wait… nope, we have a weird bag on the floor. It was plain white plastic, fairly large, and not too heavy as I picked it up.
There was a simple print out reading on the bottom of it. “Bambino Adult Diapers, small.”
I swore, threw the bag in the closet, slammed the door and threw myself on the bed. I don’t know why, but I cried. I cried because not only was life unfair, it had to be weird.