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I caught a glimpse of my mother staring out the den window. She held her violin loosely under her chin, and the bow dangled from her fingertips. Her jaw was slack, her eyes locked on something in the trees beyond me. I knew that haunted expression. I froze.
I swallowed hard as her eyes shifted to me. The violin fell from her chin, and I could see her bottom lip trembling.
I should have been used to that reaction from her when she saw me during an episode. It happened every time. But I wasn’t.
I flew into the house as fast as my feet would carry me. The screen door crashed behind me as I came to a halt outside the den. My mother clutched fistfuls of her blonde hair, garbled words spilling from her lips.
“I have to. I have to go out there,” she said. “He’s waiting for me.”
She stood in the semi-darkness, mumbling, the only other sound the hum of the ceiling fan. I clung to the doorjamb as I watched my grandmother approach carefully. She placed her hands on my mother’s shoulders, and on contact my mother’s body stopped quaking. Gram crooned, rocking her back and forth, as she pulled her into her arms and led her away from the window.
My stomach tightened, and I backed away to leave them alone. If she saw me again, who knew what would happen.
I cringed as the floor creaked beneath me, and she jerked her head in my direction. Her eyes widened when she saw me, and the shaking began again. Breaking away from my grandmother, she stumbled backward toward the window. She raked her fingers down her face and hair as she moaned. “Liam…” Tears streamed down her cheeks, causing thick strands of hair to stick to her face.
I entered the room slowly, desperate not to step on another squeaky floorboard. Her green eyes burned into mine, and I locked my eyes on hers. No matter how many times she fought my attempts to soothe her, I had to keep trying. She was my mom.