My mom is gone. She is a drunk and isn’t usually home until four in the morning. I practically live by myself and I’m only 12. My parents are going through a divorce because my dad claims my mom is just another child. I agree with him but somehow I’m stuck with her. I’m told I need a mother more than a father because I am a girl but somehow, I don't think this is the case with me.
We live in apartment 13b on the second floor of the Home Sweet Home apartment complex. The name sounds nice but the minute you step into the non-existent lobby, you know you are very mistaken. The ‘lobby’, if I can even call it that, is a series of couches along one wall, a computer on a desk in the corner with a lady behind it, and bathrooms next to it. I can’t stand this place. The apartments are even worse. If they have room service, they must never come to this room once people leave. I’ve found disgusting things on the floor, bathroom, trash cans, and couch that were left behind. I have my own room, thankfully. I keep it clean. It’s pretty nice except for the people who live above us are always making noise. The worst part is that my bedroom is where most of it is.
It’s midnight and my mom still isn’t home. By now I’ve already eaten one of the many microwaveable Ramen Noodles and watched Saturday Night Live. I hear the phone ring and go over to pick it up.
“Hello?” I say.
“Hi honey,” my mom slurs. “I’m gonna be out late, ok?” She laughs at something someone on the other end says. I acknowledge her and hang up. I’m so tired, I don’t even care anymore. I go to the bathroom to get ready for bed.
As I leave the bathroom, I hear tapping on the ceiling. It stops after a couple seconds so I dismiss it. When I get into bed I hear it again. The same thing. Tap, tap, tap, tap, pause, tap, pause, tap, stop, tap, tap, pause, tap, stop, stop, tap.
The tapping patterns happen every so often throughout the night for a week. Then, they stop. I forget about it.
Finally, we move. I am 17. It took 5 years. The divorce went through and is final. We will be moving out of this trash dump and to my grandparent’s house in Bar Harbor, Maine. It’s nice there. I get my own room but school is the problem. I’ve always stuck out. I hate being the center of attention. I tend to stay away from other people. I’m required to take a language class. They offer Spanish, French, German, Russian, and Morse. Morse is listed as an option only if you know all the others. I do.
Two weeks later, I am sitting in a classroom with about 10 students. The teacher, Mrs Shell, is showing the alphabet. Everyone is writing it down except for me. I can memorize things very quickly. It’s how I’ve learned all those languages already.
She’s teaching us some of the most common phrases we will hear or see. I’m just barely listening and then I hear, tap, tap, tap, tap, pause, tap, pause, tap, stop, tap, tap, pause, tap, stop, stop, tap. I look up.
“Can anyone figure out what that means?” she asks. No one says anything. She says that’s our homework. She does it again, tap, tap, tap, tap, pause, tap, pause, tap, stop, tap, tap, pause, tap, stop, stop, tap. The bell rings and everyone gets up to leave. I stay behind. I need to know what that means. I’ll do a different homework assignment, I don’t really care. I just need to know.
I walk up to Mrs Shell, “Excuse me? Can you tell me what the homework assignment means?”
“It’s the homework assignment so no,” she says. “But if you would be willing to do a longer assignment I can tell you. May I ask why you need to know?”
“I can do a longer assignment, I don't mind. I think heard it somewhere,” I say. She looks alarmed for a second and then says after a pause.
“It means help.”
Author Notes: What do you think? Review please