Mother says children should be seen and not heard, and sometimes I don't see her for days, not until another uncle comes by to pay a visit, or pay for a visit, if she's feeling nice. Mother says I look just like Daddy, but he looks a lot like the man in all the picture frames at CVS. Sometimes I pretend he's an officer, knocking on the door. "Ma'am, can you come to the door please? I need to ask you a few questions about your daughter." I hear the wind-chime sounds of his handcuffs clink-clinking on his belt, and for just a moment, I feel secure.
Mother says don’t talk back, but then she asks me a question, like do I still love her, would I still love her if she cut off my tongue and fed it to the cat? She asks me while I'm eating breakfast: bacon, toast, and eggs. I press the food to the roof of my mouth, real hard, so I know my tongue is still there. It tastes like the iron bars of a bird cage. She smiles, her cheeks stained with the knuckle-love her men gave. "Don’t worry, I'm just kidding. There'd be too much blood."
Mother says I wet the bed, but sometimes I don't. Sometimes I sleep in the closet, sometimes I sleep in the shed, if I can sleep at all, from the loud bang bang bang on the wall. It's cold out there. My teeth rattle, chattering, make noise and tattling, telling where I am. When she finds me, Mother says, I'm no good. I have to go, she can't take this anymore. I'm just another mouth to feed, another warning to heed, she should have listened before. "I should have done it, the dirty deed. I should have told the doctor to shut you up while you were still a fetus, a tiny seed." When I start talking, I never know when to stop. That's what Mother says.
This is my first Friday flash in probably two years. It's the result of a writing prompt from Imaginative Writing by Janet Burroway.