Mama lay in her bed, hair fanned out like an angel. She was still young then, not that I thought it at the time. Back then she was grown-up, at all of nineteen.

A slow sunrise was spreading across the coverlets and thawing the icicles, warming our frigid bedsit. On the sill, crows and blackbirds screeched. I could hear Mrs. Hayworth making coffee next door, a car chugging down the alley.

That strange sour smell I still can’t stand was fading, and frying oil took its place.

I looked at Mama and checked her pulse. She was still alive, this time, but I took the pills and flushed them anyway. At seven, I didn’t know the ripple that flush would have when she finally awoke.