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Friday, April 13, 2012

Mother says...

Mother says that when I start talking I never know when to stop. Sometimes it takes five or six licks of the belt to get me to shut up, the imprints of the buckle making intricate patterns on my skin, lacey welts that look like spider webs. I wish the spider would spin its silk around her and suck her dry, a wingless fly.

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. 


13 comments:

  1. That was awesome Kemari. The rhythm of the words and the contrast of the child's voice telling this horrific story--the wind chime tinkle of the handcuffs. I loved it.

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  2. Sounds like the mother has as rough a life as the child's. Sad all around.

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    1. I would have to agree. In my head, they're both children of sorts.

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  3. I especially liked the opening of this, hooked me immediately. "Sometimes it takes five or six licks of the belt to get me to shut up..." Great line!

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  4. I have to echo Larry's comment. There is no good news for either the mother or the child.

    There is a lot of impact in these words, and the subject is one that many writers would probably avoid.

    A powerful and evocative story. Well done.

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    1. I find that I tend to write about subjects writers usually avoid. I think the more uncomfortable I am, the more clarity I have. If only that worked for me in real life. ;)

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  5. Maybe it was the humorous high I came off of as I began the story, but it started and hooked very sharply on the "licks" from the belt. Harsh and quickly captured.

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  6. The rhythm and rhyme to these words would have caught me, were I not already caught by the tone and taste of them.

    A very sharp-edged piece, Kemari.

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    1. Thank you, KjM. I'm glad it "caught you." This came from a freewriting exercise, so the words kind of caught me too.

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