Excerpt from Innocents Pray

From Innocents Pray by Lisa J. Lickel
copyright by Lisa J. Lickel

When I think back on my death and life, I recall Jordan’s eyes in perfect detail. I realized that, as his mother, I should have known, should have understood him. But if I had, I wouldn’t have lived.
Events were changing too fast for me to control that morning, I realized, as I lay trapped in the nether moments between sleep and wakefulness. Jordan’s eyes were black holes threatening to pull me in. I knew that if I let that happen, I’d be lost forever.
He wanted me gone. I’ve known that for the last three years. This time he might get his wish.
Shaking, I came fully awake. When I saw the clock, I knew I would have to pull myself together in a hurry so I could say good-bye before Nona took my son to school. At fourteen, it was easier for him to be seen with anyone but his mother. The tingle in my left thigh that bothered me on and off for the past six weeks turned into a throb as I made my way down the stairs. In the kitchen, I heard Nona quiz him about homework and the contents of his backpack. Good, she would cut him no slack.
She thrust a cup of coffee into my hands as I shuffled in. I greeted her and Jordan, who looked at me with a smile that went no further than his father’s dimples. Could he see my fear? Smell it or feel it?
“Morning, Libby,” Nona said. “I took a message off the machine earlier. Mrs. Rodgers asked you to make matching napkin rings for the coasters she ordered last year.” Nona shrugged into her jacket and jingled the car keys. “I left the note at your table.
“Thank you. Have a great day, Jordan. I love you,” I said to my son’s back. I’d been lobbing “I love you” at him for eighteen months. So far, he hadn’t cracked and sent one back.