The door slammed behind them.
“You are unbelievable.” Darla let out a frustrated groan once inside the house. The tension had built up the whole car ride home. She forbade Jonah from talking until they had gotten to the house, but really the verbal ban was more for herself, as she was afraid of making a scene. Despite having the ride to calm her outrage and process her thoughts, Darla still was too upset to speak properly. “Why can’t you just…What am I supposed to do?”
Jonah stood there tensely as his mother paced around the living room, unsure of what to do with herself. The mood in the car the whole way home was unpalatable, so heavy it threatened to crush Jonah like a giant anvil hanging by a thread over his head. It was not an unfamiliar feeling for him.
“Mom,” Jonah started, “They keep blaming me, but I didn’t start the fight.”
“That doesn’t matter,” came Darla’s sharp reply. She paced and waved her arms flamboyantly out of frustration. “Jonah, we can’t move again. I just put a downpayment on this house. If you get expelled again, there’s not going to be a lot of options left.”
“I get it, Mom.”
”Do you?” she shot back. She became more exasperated and desperate as she went on. She had gone through this too many times over the past few years and she honestly was exhausted by trying to figure out the right thing to do. “Things aren’t getting better. And you reject any kind of help I offer you.”
Jonah could feel the aggravation and disappointment in every word his mother uttered; dripping in every syllable was an ounce of despair, a touch of condemnation, and a hint of hopelessness that collectively became a huge weight over the years that suffocated his self-image and made him spiral further down a path of self-inflicted isolation and rage. Every wrong move dug him deeper into a pit that long since had been shallow enough to climb out of. It was cold in the pit. Cold and dark.
“Yes, I know. I’m such a terrible person,” he hissed with such conviction it almost sounded sarcastic instead of melancholic. The self-loathing remark was loaded with layers of anger and anguish that even his mother couldn’t see.
Darla shoved her hands to her temples, as if a vein might pop otherwise. Her reply was flat and resigned. “Jonah, go upstairs…I can’t deal with you right now.” Jonah didn’t need to be told twice. He wanted nothing more at this point than for him to go upstairs too. He turned towards the steps, his backpack and shoes still on from when they first came in.
“And no dinner for you,” Darla added as Jonah began up the stairs.
“I wasn’t fucking hungry anyway!” he yelled back. At his mother’s attempt to punish him by any means possible, he didn’t care. He honestly wasn’t hungry. His appetite was left somewhere back at the school. And besides, the idea of eating felt like something he shouldn’t deserve right now anyhow. He stomped up the steps and slammed his bedroom door shut.