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Memorial Monster

Work is always Hell on holiday weekend and Memorial Day Weekend was no exception.

The store was an absolute madhouse filled with customers buying large amounts of groceries for cookouts and fake flowers for gravestones. After being on a register checking out people non-stop up until break, I was more than happy to be put on self-checkout duty where it’s still busy yet I get a little relief from time to time.

While standing by the self-checkout bullpen, I caught sight of my one brother at a belted self-checkout. I haven’t seen him in a while and was about to greet him until I realized he wasn’t with one of his caretakers, but with my mother, who I’ve discussed at length in previous postings. I turned back towards the bullpen and pretended like I didn’t see them, hoping they would both be on their way quickly. 

Of all the days for that monster to decide she’s going to make small talk with me as if I haven’t had more than two conversations with her in NINE YEARS and haven’t visited her since leaving home, she picks one of the busiest days of the summer when my anxiety is already running high as it is and I’ve had a streak of forgetting my anxiety meds because of how insanely busy things have been.

Oh HI, Sam!” she said in that high pitched sweet voice she uses in public while in the presence of others. She never sounded this way behind closed doors unless she was using sarcasm to belittle me. “You must not have seen (brother’s name) in forever! (brother’s name), say ‘hi’ to your sister!”

My brother gave a monotone “Hi, Sam” while quickly waving his hand before flashing a strained, awkward smile. Being a mostly non-verbal autistic, any sort of forced interaction with people is torture to him. In that moment being forced to uncomfortably interact with the woman that gave birth to me, I felt every bit as socially awkward and stressed as he did.     

The advantage of my old department (as shitty as it was) was that I could duck behind the counter whenever she was around, but having to watch the self-checkout meant I was unable to remove myself from the situation. My anxiety, the number of people around, and being at my job meant I couldn’t tell her to fuck off without drawing unwanted attention to myself or possibly getting into some sort of trouble with management.   

It’s like she knew this was the worst time. As calculating as she was as my abuser, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if she did. She always knew just how to push my buttons when I was at my most vulnerable. Except now I had no means of escaping—not to the comforts of my bedroom, not to a friend’s place, not outside in the wooded area behind our home or around the streets of our town. I was trapped and I had to stand there acting like I didn’t loathe every millisecond of interacting with this vile woman while my blood boiled with rage. I prayed my handheld would signal that someone needed an age check or the system thought something was scanned improperly, but just my fucking luck that everything was going smoothly despite the holiday weekend.

No matter how much I told myself that “Everything is going to be fine. She can’t hurt you anymore. Don’t let her ruin your day”, my hands still shook from the onset of panic after the interaction. I had nightmares about her during what little sleep I got that night. Even after almost nine years, it doesn’t seem to get easier, but I have at least some comfort in knowing that the one thing I have true control of is our relationship and I choose not to have one with her.

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