Mara sighed as she tromped the stairs to Jeremy’s room. “Teen boys never rouse to just calling, it requires a personal earthquake to wake them,” she reminded herself. Yesterday with Jeremy had been special. She smiled. She felt like she really connected with him for the first time in months. At supper he had given free rein to his special kind of humor. Mara touched her sore ribs. “He made me laugh too much. But it is a good kind of sore. I needed to laugh.” Jeremy didn’t answer her knocks on the bedroom door. Mara pounded on the door with her fist, calling, “Jeremy, time to get up. You have school today.” No one answered. Mara tried the doorknob. It turned. She pushed the door open, “Jeremy?” she called. The dark room remained silent. Mara fumbled for the light switch. Jeremy lay on the floor. The light didn’t arouse him. Mara touched him, calling his name. She pushed on his arm, then patted his face, her voice growing more insistent. Jeremy made no response. Mara pinched his arm hard, and he moaned. He was still alive, but the syringe near him told her the truth. Jeremy had promised not to use again; not while he lived at home with her. She dialed emergency on her cell phone, her voice poised even as her hand trembled with rage. Several previous experiences schooled her concise and professional report to the dispatcher. She even knew how to count his tremulous pulse, and check his pupils. The medics were professional too. They, too, had seen it before. “Mara, Mara, get a grip. Your anger won’t help him, or you. We have been through this before. Let it go!” she chided herself while driving behind the ambulance. The brilliance of the sunrise overwhelmed the gruesome flashing lights.
At the Emergency Room, the doctors offered a grim prognosis. Their one consensus: Jeremy might suffer permanent brain damage. Their opinions on whether he would recover any abilities or memories Mara left them to debate. She just wanted Jeremy alive, and conscious enough to remember the scolding she would give him. Maybe this would be the last time he used; maybe the last time he physically could use. But she wanted him alive.
The NarCan ™ worked, and Jeremy wretched into the basin she held. Mara refrained from unleashing her tongue. There would be time enough later, when maybe he could remember what she said. She needed time to process her disappointment before they spoke. “Mom, I’m sorry,” was all he got out between heaves. And all Mara heard before she started crying.
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