The Wrong Answer by Michael Eberhardt

Fourteen-year old Molly is desperate to find an answer to deal with her abusive, drug-addled mother; by Michael Eberhardt

The note sat on the kitchen table held in place by a box of Cheerios. My bad, Molly mumbled to herself, ShopRite brand "Toasty-O's"; haven't seen a real box of Cheerios since dad took off. She sat and read in silence.


Before School:
  • Make a pot of coffee
  • Do last night's dishes
  • Fix lunches for you and Teddy
  • Walk the damn dog (He's your dog Molly, next time he pisses in my house I'll cut off his balls)
  • Keep the Fucking Noise Down. I don't have to get up for work until 9am

After School:
  • Get the Laundry done (All of it this time)
  • Walk the dog
  • Have Teddy take out garbage and clean his room
  • Make us something for dinner
  • Don't answer the phone (We don't need the bill collectors tracking us down)
  • *** No friends in the house***

I'll be home by 7 tonight

She'll be home by seven Molly thought. Drunk, stoned, a little of both or neither. Who knew anymore? Although when Molly thought about it, dear old Mom hadn't come home from work straight in a while. Why did she have to drink so much? Then the drugs started a couple of years ago and made things about a thousand times worse. That asshole boyfriend brought some cocaine over to the house and Mom tried some. Said it was her first time. Nowadays it's non stop. Different guys coming over with different drugs. And Vodka. Always the Vodka.

If she would just stick to the beer and wine Molly thought, everything would be so much better. She never acts like a monster when she is on the beer and wine.

The heroin zones her out. The coke turns her into a freak. The Vodka breeds the devil. And the pills... well the pills are a crap shoot. Unpredictable. We've all heard it before from Forrest Gump. They are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get. And that's all I got to say about that. Thank you Mr. Gump!

Molly turned fourteen two weeks ago. The last ten years of her life (the part she remembers) has been the same story with different twists. Always the same ending though, Mom wasted, passed out with no memory of what she did while she was using. They were called blackouts, should be called "memory-be-gone" or "convenient amnesia" Molly always thought.

Molly has been learning about drugs and alcohol at school in health class for the past two years. What she learns in school and what she sees at home are two different animals. Mom always ends her notes with "No friends in the house." Molly would never dare do that. Not because dear old Mom says so but because she would be too embarrassed.

Last night was a rough one. Molly is still debating on whether or not to cut school today. Her mom won't be leaving for work until ten (if she goes in at all) and she has no place to go until then. But the thought of showing up to school with a black eye and a long scratch from behind her ear, across her neck and down her chest is not very appealing. She already has a story for it. Made it up last night while lying in bed crying softly and pleading with God to make her mom stop. Molly's cover story involves her dog, the bedroom door and a wire coat hanger. Just off the wall enough to make it believable. Coming up with cover stories for dear old Mom's behavior has become a fine art form that Molly has perfected over the years. Sure the school is a little suspicious but they always seem to take her at her word each time she comes in a little marked up.

Mom brought two guys home after work last night. Not the first time, probably not the last. She must have started early yesterday because she was drunk when she stumbled in the door. Molly was watching T.V. at the time. Big mistake. She started yelling about how Molly should be in the kitchen doing homework. She ripped the T.V. out of the wall and smashed it on the floor. Won't be watching anymore of her shows any time soon.

Molly just got up and headed for her room while the two guys she had never met before got a good laugh over it. Mom started laughing too as Molly walked through and past them, headed down the hall. Next thing she knew her mother's arm came over her shoulder and tried to get a good grip on Molly. As she squirmed away Mom's middle finger nail tore open her flesh from her chest, across her neck up to her ear. Molly stopped in her tracks and screamed in pain. One of the guys turned her around to face her mother who was yelling, "I said kitchen, homework. Not bedroom crying you little bitch." Thing was that the guy didn't grab her arm or anything like that to turn her around. He slammed his two huge hands around her face and forced her around to face her mother by her head. One of his hands held a Zippo lighter which caught Molly just below the left eye. It turned black and blue immediately, amusing the hell out of the three drunks.

Between sobs Molly let them know she had to get her school books out of her bedroom, then she would be in the kitchen doing homework. Mom, asshole #1 and asshole #2 went into the master bedroom to do God only knows what perverted things in there. AC/DC began to crank from her mother's bedroom stereo and shook the house from the foundation on up while Molly's left eye swelled twice its size and grew three shades darker. Let the party begin!

But it's morning now, last night's horror throbs in her head and is painted on her face. Molly sits at the kitchen table, staring at the note, crying softly so Mom doesn't wake up. She is becoming immune to the physical, mental and emotional abuse she's endured lately. That's not why she is crying. Her eyes are set focused on the note. "Fix lunch for Teddy." Teddy is her little brother. Over the past few weeks Mom instructs her to do more and more for Teddy. The words on the note "Fix lunch for Teddy" are what bring the tears. Nothing in her world is worse than when she is told to take care of Teddy. She zones out and the tears come on strong.

She is pulled back into this world through a slight disturbance in the air. Mom is awake, in the kitchen behind her, setting the coffee pot up to perform its morning ritual of healing. Molly hears the cap come off the pint of Vodka and Mommy dearest pours a stiff one into her mug as she waits for the coffee to brew. "Go wake up your brother," she says, "I don't want him late for school."

"Stop! Just stop damn it!" Molly screams. Mom turns around and responds with the classic, "What the fuck is your problem?"

"I can't wake him up, he's dead Mom! Dead and buried in St. Elizabeth's Cemetery down by Gram's house."

"What are you saying Molly? Don't talk like that. Go get Teddy out of bed NOW!"

"You killed him Mom. Ran him over with your car right out in front of the house. He was riding his bike in the street and you ran him down coming home from the Fifth Avenue Tavern two months ago." The tears gave way to rage as Molly's voice rose right in sync with her level of hate for the woman standing in front of her. "You fucking killed Teddy while in a fucking God damned blackout," she screamed. "Gram and Grandpop had him buried while you were laid up in the hospital for shock. You have to be in court for this next week Mom. Stop fucking using! Please stop!"

"No little girl of mine is going to talk to me that way," as she slapped Molly in the face. "No little fourteen year old shit is going to tell me what to do." Another hard slap, this time to the bad eye. The Vodka was already working its evil. Molly took off, out of the kitchen and into the bathroom.

The devil has risen and it is Mom. That thought played over and over in Molly's head as she sat on the edge on the tub, crying softly and holding what she believed to be "The Answer." It felt heavy in her hands. She never touched it before. It always scared her. Mom kept it in the drawer by the sink ever since dad left. Said it was there to keep them safe. Molly put it in her mouth and squeezed the trigger.

The shot echoed through the house. In the kitchen another Vodka was poured and a few more tears were cried. The police were there within five minutes. The neighbors just shook their heads in disgust watching as Mom was led out in handcuffs again. This time forever.

Gram and Grandpop came and did their duty once more. They buried young Molly beside her brother at St. Elizabeth's. While Mom doesn't remember much from that morning, another case of "convenient amnesia," she now lives her life in silence. Locked up without much hope for pardon. No visitors, no contact from the outside. It's said she moves around lock-up much like a zombie. She tried escape once and almost made it. Another five year term was added onto her life sentence for that attempt.

One guard inside has made her existence bearable. In exchange for her body, as used up as it is, he feeds her the drugs he smuggles in from the streets. Talk of another escape is in the works. While high on the pills brought in her mind races in overtime, scheming plan after plan that might result in freedom. "Fuck my body, fuck my dignity and fuck my life. Just keep getting me high until I'm gone."


  1. very heavy. is there a ring of truth to this? you have to hope the author is not speaking from experience. either way it paints a totally convincing picture of a life without hope.
    some say there´s always hope, this disproves it.
    well done.

    michael mccarthy

  2. Level of depravity and violence might be a tad gratitutus, but definitely in the right direction far too often. Touchingly written.