Living to Tell About It

Jose More/VWPics via AP Images

As T Kira Madden writes in her powerful, poetic essay in The Sun, she grew up with two wealthy parents with chemical dependencies. Madden’s father left their family to find sobriety in another state; her mother succumbed to addiction. The young, biracial Madden struggled in that vulnerable teenage space between what she was and what she still could be, both hurting herself and trying to find a way out, with the help of other young women.

My mother calls in the middle of my shift again. She sounds worse than she did this morning. She’s crying — I can’t make out her words.

Chicken is what I understand. Made chicken. Need sleep.

So go to sleep, I say. Eliza will drop me off soon.

But I don’t want Eliza to drop me off soon. I want Eliza to drive me all around town, and I tell Eliza this. I want her to buy me as many packs of cigarettes as I can afford, and a bottle of anything, and I want us to talk, the two of us, in her car, on the beach, anywhere. I want her emo music turned down low on the radio as I tell her what my life’s been like; I want to tell her about home, about the Senior; I want to tell her that once, I could have been an Olympic athlete, or a jockey. I want to talk to her until my mother wakes up. I want my father. Most of all, I don’t want to go home.

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