Saved by the Bell: The Very Later Years (Lisa’s Lament)

Lisa stretches out on the bed. It’s 7:15, but she doesn’t hear Terry crying yet. Oh, blessed existence, she says to God. She slides out of the covers as quietly as possible. The floor creaks beneath her, but she knows where to step to minimize it. She wants a little time alone. Just a few minutes. Dear God, please grant me this moment, she asks. She smiles as she opens the door leading into the hall. 

No wails from Terry. 

Praise Jesus. 

Praise God. 

She makes her way to the kitchen softly and puts the “Donut House: Chocolate Dream” into the Keurig and presses the button. She squeezes her eyes shut as the noise starts. It’s soft, but Terry has awakened from less. MUCH less. 

Fingers crossed, she heads to the fridge and pulls the door open. Again, softly. Always softly. 

So far, so good. 

She thanks God again. 

He’s such a good God. 

And then: the cries. 

Oh, Moses, she thinks to herself. The coffee is almost done, but she may not get a chance to enjoy it. It depends on Terry’s mood. It always depends on Terry. 

She heads down the hall and turns the handle. Gently lets the door open. It smells, immediately. She knows what he’s done. She doesn’t even need to see it to know that Terry had an event. 

The shit is smeared across the walls. There are no patterns or shapes—one of the early doctors told her to look for that sort of thing, like maybe it might tell them something, that it might mean something, but it never does. It’s just shit. Smeared all over the walls. 

He’s sitting there. He’s crying, but he’s also laughing. He’s 13, but he has the mind of a 1 year old. He’s got shit all over his hands—his shit—and he’s laughing. He doesn’t know. She doesn’t know if that makes it better, or worse. 

Either way, she’s crying now, Praise God, as she stands in the doorway in her robe, her only son on his bed, covered in his own filth, nothing but unclothed madness and a toothless, drooling grin. 

In the kitchen, her coffee is done brewing, but it won’t get touched. 

She’s got a lot of cleanup ahead of her. A lot of scouring and scrubbing. 

Praise God. 

He is good, and this is His plan, she tells herself as she heads into the war-zone armed with nothing but elbow-length rubber gloves, the “shit-bucket” and a scrub-brush. 

Terry just smiles. 

Praise Him.  

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