hed the bus would go faster. When we pulled into the station in Macon, I practically knocked people out of my way to get off. Then I found a taxi stand and had the driver take me to the place I knew Mama was being kept.
After I spoke with the receptionist, she made me wait in a small lobby, but I didn’t wait long before a tall, thin African-American woman in a lab coat came out to see me. Her hair was a thin reddish brown, and she had freckles on her caramel cheeks, a long but nicely shaped nose, and lips that were almost orange.
“I’m Doctor Young,” she said, extending her long arm and thin fingers at me.
I took her hand and stood.
“I want to see my mother,” I replied.
“You’re Charlene Elder’s daughter?” she asked as if she didn’t believe Mama had a daughter.
“We’ve been trying to locate her husband. Where is your father?”
“He’s dead,” I said. “He was killed in a car accident recently.”
“Oh. I’m sorry to hear that. We actually tried contacting…” She paused to look at her clipboard. “Contacting a Mrs. Mae Louise Howard, but she hasn’t returned any calls. That is your mother’s sister, isn’t it?”
“She’s probably trying to forget she’s related,” I said dryly.
“Well, who do you live with?”
“Nobody,” I said, not hiding my impatience. “I just want to see my mother. Can I see her?”
“Yes, yes. I think it might do some good. Come along,” she said eagerly. “What do you know about your mother’s condition?” she asked.
“Nothing,” I said. What was I going to do, tell her my life story?
“Your mother has been suffering from serious substance abuse and is still in a period of withdrawal.”
“How did she get here?” I asked as we continued down the corridor.
“As far as I know, she was dropped off at the emergency room, but whoever did that didn’t hang around. It’s quite common,” she added quickly as if she thought I would get hysterical over it.
“Is she going to be all right?”
“These things take a lot of time,” she replied. “They require a great deal of therapy and a willingness on the part of the patient.”
She stopped and touched my arm.
“I don’t know how much you know about what happened here.”
“I don’t know much. She left my daddy and me and ran off with someone.”
She hesitated and then, from the look I saw in her eyes, decided she had to be truthful, even to someone as young as I was.
“Your mother tried to commit suicide,” she told me.
“Suicide? We didn’t know that.”
“I did leave a message for your aunt.”
I shook my head.
“She never told me,” I said more to myself than Doctor Young.