Archived: Cold Tea by James Byrd

Setting: A City Court Room

Time: Before and after a court case

Character: A 20 year old contemplating the death of his mother and fate of his father 


I would say I didn’t think it would happen to me or her, but that’s hard to say when I see people all with their own kinds of bad luck.

My teen years, I could tell my parents wanted walls dividing them. Yelling was kept to at night when those same walls binded them. The most I caught was about my older brother and helping him with money, or the other toils and expenses he’d cost them. Though he was out of the house. They would try to make time for me, but they would make telling me an afterthought. School nights, papers and exams didn’t matter when my mom made up her mind to take me to the movies, or my dad to take me fishing or on some random errand for one of his new hobbies. Each chose their company in stories or projects.

 My brother didn’t come to see dad, said he couldn’t be in the same room. I think a part of him feels guilty. I think he doesn’t want to see a part of himself in the old man’s eyes.

I don’t remember my parents being violent in my childhood though, but I can only really remember instances and moments of my childhood. I know that if anything held any insight to what happened, I would remember it. As time went on, the arguing happened less. I think they came to an understanding of discontent. They had lost what they invested into each other, and I knew when I finally moved they’d leave each other. All they really had near the end, just the gust of wind from the other walking by.  

When I left home, I thought it would be an occasion to see either of them on the same day. I knew they would leave each other, I didn’t know how or in what condition.

I talked to my brother on the phone for a bit. I think he was high. He knows more than I do, I wish I could help take those burdens for his health. He told me that Mom and Dad were arguing about his rehab, and he thinks it’s his fault for leaving. It does make a good motive. But it’s not his fault; he isn’t why he had to go to rehab in the first place. Besides, Dad did it. They say they know it’s him. He’s the only one who could have done it. The report says there were no signs of breaking and entering. The only window broken was the one she fell from. 


The entire courtroom, and his eyes were fixed on that table in front of him. He must have seen his whole world in those papers. Not even his verdict led him astray. I don’t know if he knew I was there. I don’t know if he could handle knowing if I was there, or if I wasn’t. After a month of not seeing him, he had already changed.

His case was that he was in the basement at the time, setting up his figurines. The ones he kept mint in-box. And that his wife, my mom, jumped. It didn’t explain the open book on the nightstand, or the cold undrunk tea. In the two hours she laid outside, he managed to open two boxes of army men and lay only a half of one box out on the table.

 The only thing altered in their bedroom, other than the window, was a single picture of me and my brother. It was flipped to face the wall.

All of it was strange, the apathy he showed, the otherwise pristine room. Whether I’ll visit him to see those glazed eyes I don’t know. I don’t think I want to.