It didn’t occur to me until I was seven years old that I didn’t have a mother. I had a friend, then, a childhood friend, I can’t remember his name but I remember his question: Where’s your mother?
I looked at him and I didn’t say anything. I didn’t know the answer. I asked my dad, later.
“Where’s my mother?”
“She’s not here.”
“When is she coming back?”
“I’m not sure,” he said. He could have told me anything, something, but he told me nothing.
My dad is a machinist. He works on cars. I think that is what I will do also. I’m in college now. My first semester and I don’t know, I’m just not interested in my classes or other students. I’m not doing any work and I’m pretty sure I’m failing everything. My dad asks me how it’s going. I say fine and retreat to my room to watch TV or play video games. I live at home and commute to school. It’s a community college. I see a lot of people from my high school there. It’s just like high school, really. I didn’t like high school either but I passed. I don’t know how but I did.
Anyway, not long after I asked my Dad about a mother, he came home with one. I don’t think she liked me. Well, at first, maybe she did. She seemed nice. Everyone seems nice to me, until something happens. She told me to call her mom, so I did. Which was nice. Then I had a brother. I love him. He lives with her now, not my dad, because suddenly it seemed as if there was a lot, I mean, a lot of yelling in the house. And door slamming. She would grab my brother, shove him in the car, and reverse down our short driveway, back into the road without stopping, cursing, cursing, cursing. I watched from my bedroom window. I listened through my bedroom walls. My brother and I share a room. It’s just a small house. Two bedrooms, kitchen and eating area. We don’t have a dining room like I’ve seen in some houses on television. We have a den, off the living room. It’s small though. It is where we watch television, which my dad and I do every night together, now that my mother and brother don’t live here anymore. I miss him. I don’t miss her. Our favorite show is Law and Order. No, that’s not right. It’s NCIS. That’s our favorite show. We like them both, I guess.
My dad handed me a newspaper article a few weeks ago. I’ve read it over and over before I understood it. It’s from our local paper. It is about a car crash. A semi lost control on a major highway (the one I drive all the time up to school) and caused a bad accident. A woman died. She was pregnant and the baby lived. I know I’m really stupid. I couldn’t figure out why my dad gave it to me to read. The paper was old, too. It smelled musty. The woman’s name was Casey. That’s my name. The date on the newspaper – which I didn’t see at first- is my birthday. Man, I thought, that’s crazy. But I really didn’t think it was about me – or my mom. I didn’t have a mom. I’ve never had a mom so how could this story be about my mom? Or me? I couldn’t grasp the idea. I still can’t. I asked my dad and he said, yeah, I was born after my mom was killed.
I told my teacher up at school about it. I’m a tall guy with a big generous smile, when I smile. I don’t smile much. I always thought I looked like my dad, even though he is shorter than me. There’s a picture of the woman in the car crash. Maybe I look like her. Anyway, I was meeting with my teacher after class because I was way behind in work – all these essays we are supposed to write – I have no idea what to write about or how to even start. So, I told her about being born without a mother. She was all ears and all sympathetic and maybe I should write about it. So I did and then she asked if she could share the story with the class and I said yes and then the class was all ears and sympathetic and for a minute I felt like the most popular kid in school. When I got the essay back, she told me I had to rewrite it. I don’t have any idea why or what she means by rewriting it. I don’t think I rewrote it. I don’t know. I don’t remember. I don’t think I’ll go back to that class.
Here’s the truth: My name isn’t Casey. It’s Gavin. I don’t know why I said it was Casey. Just for fun. But the crash did happen on my birthday. And I never had a mom so maybe that was her in the car. We do have the same last name.
Here’s another truth: This new information, about the circumstances of my birth, mean nothing to me. It doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t change my life or make me want to do anything, like go to college or think about stuff. Nothing means much to me.