Resemblance is rated PG-13 according to my standards.
Resemblance, by Deanna Schrayer
“No, I am nothing like Mom!”
“Wait,” Channing held up her hand to stop his story, “is that the tone he used?”
“Yes, just like that,” John nodded.
“Hmm,” Channing could find no other words. Her husband continued relating the conversation he’d had with their son, Dylan, but she was not listening any more. At those words – I am nothing like Mom – a vibrant thirty-year-old memory slapped Channing upside the head and swirled about in her mind as if it had happened only yesterday.
She was the same age was Dylan was now – thirteen. Channing had come home late again, and though she’d only been at her girlfriend’s house, she and Jacquie listening to music and painting each other’s nails, she had lost track of time. Her mother, Evelyn, was certain Channing had been running around with her seventeen-year-old boyfriend, hiding in the back streets doing things no thirteen-year-old girl should even be thinking of yet.
Channing vehemently denied the accusation, even asked her mom to call Jacquie’s parents, (they weren’t home when Channing had been there, but they knew their daughter, they trusted her), but Evelyn refused. Instead, she’d pointed her ivory-backed brush in Channing’s face, screaming at her, “You’re a liar Channing Leighann! You have no respect for your own mother, you’re just like your daddy!”
Channing pulled down into herself like a turtle hiding in its shell, protecting itself from harm. Evelyn was looming above her, so close now that Channing could smell the apple shampoo her mother used to keep her chestnut hair shiny. The headiness of the scent made Channing nauseous.
Channing could no longer stand the chiding. She stood up quickly and clenched her fists, filling Evelyn’s space, pushing her mother back a few steps with nothing more than her sudden royal-like presence. “I am nothing like Daddy,” she shouted, “nothing at all like him!”, and she fled out of the kitchen into the dark humid night, running, running as fast as she could run towards the creek that flowed harshly behind their neighbor’s house, not stumbling once over the thick oak roots that jutted up from the ground, not slamming into their gnarled branches that reached into her path as if to pull Channing into their violent embrace. She knew this route like she knew each deep line in her father’s face – she didn’t have to see to know where she was going.
Channing skidded to a halt at the creek’s edge, sliding her bare feet into the thick silt, the icy water stinging her hot toes. She stepped further into the creek, closing her eyes and allowing the bubbly water to tickle her feet.
When she felt her breathing return to a slower pace Channing sat right where she was, on the edge of a row of semi-flat stones she and her brothers had – years ago – placed there to create a walkway across the creek.
The water was muddy from the storms that had plowed through the day before. Channing leaned forward, letting her knees sink into the soft earth, and shoved her hands into the silt under the water, covering her already damp skin up to her elbows. The calmness that came over her then was nearly palpable. She imagined burying herself deep, deep under the mud beneath the creek, felt the warmth of the mud caressing her, the relief of the cleansing water washing away everything her mother believed her to be: conniving, manipulative, hateful. She felt this small body of water loving her unconditionally. She almost smiled.
When finally Channing felt the bitter anger drifting downstream with the minnows she pulled herself up out of the water, out of the mud and rested on the sandy gravel at the edge of the creek. She drew her knees up, wrapping her arms around them and laid her cheek against her moist legs. Channing loved her father, she loved him very much, but she hated what his drinking did to her, to her two brothers, to her mother, and especially to himself. No, she was nothing like her daddy and she never would be.
Channing blinked and glanced around, finding herself in her own kitchen thirty years later, sitting at the oak farmhouse table her father had built, her husband looking at her as if she might fall over dead any second. She shivered.
“Are you going to call him?” John said.
John sighed but held his temper. “Dr. Jessup, to ask if we need to increase Dylan’s depression medication.”
“Oh.” She remembered what John had been telling her. Their son had finally told his dad that he felt sad all the time, that he didn’t know what to do. When John had told Dylan his medicine may need to be altered, that he might need to take more, Dylan had panicked. “No,” he’d said, “I don’t need more medicine.” Then, when John had reminded him, (as both he and Channing had done several times), that it’s okay to take medicine, that a lot of people took medicine to help keep them from being sad, even his own mother, Dylan had turned red and bolted for the back door, calling hoarsely over his shoulder to John, “I am nothing like Mom!”
“Of course,” Channing said to John, “of course I’ll call him.”
“Thanks honey,” John gave his wife a weak smile and kissed her on the cheek, “I’ve got to run, love you,” and he turned to leave.
“Love you too,” Channing whispered.
She sat there for a long time, looking at the phone on the wall across the small kitchen, rubbing her forehead that throbbed like a fast-approaching storm. Then she stood and walked around the table, across the room towards the phone.
When she reached the sink, two feet away from the phone, she stopped. Channing opened the cabinet above the sink and retrieved a glass, turned ever-so-slightly, as if in a much practiced movement, and opened another cabinet door, the one above the refrigerator. Her hand felt around until she latched on to what she was looking for. She took the bottle from the cabinet and unscrewed the lid. She stared at the label as she poured the dark auburn liquid into the glass. Jack Daniels, it read. No pain, she translated.
Channing gulped the drink in one long trembling motion, gently sat the glass beside the bottle on the counter and reached for the phone.