The time my Mom stayed home from work three days in a row, singing church hymns while rocking in Grandma’s old chair, holding me tight, to claim me back from the devil.
The night she ran out the front door into the dusk screaming that we were spiders out to get her. My Dad, chasing her down Oak Street and dragging her back. Her cotton nightgown ripping at the seams. Mom hissing at me when he pulled her through the door.
The stories Mom told at the dinner table when Dad asked, “How was your day?”
A young mother lingered over the onesies and called me a whore.
Gina stared at me from across the break room during lunch. She’s waiting for me to let my guard down. (To do what Mom didn’t say)
My manager was nice to my face, but I know he wants to fire me.
Me, believing it all. Dad, eating his roast beef and mashed potatoes.
Her weekly question: “You’ll take care of me when I’m older, won’t you?”
Her repetitive proclamations:
You think you’re better than me.
All you care about is yourself.
I hope your daughter treats you the same way you treat me.
I can’t wait until you’re eighteen.
The day, in my teen years, when Dad explained he’d no longer be saying he loves me because it upset Mom. My protests:
What kind of mother is she?
Do you think that will make her better?
Give in to her on this and you’re dead to me.
That when I started college, I only went home for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
After I got married, I only went home once a year.
After Dad died, I hardly went home at all.
The last time I saw my Mom, sitting in her living room, attached to an oxygen tank. Her, taking off the mask to tell me she wished I came around more. That she’d like to see those kids of mine. Her face, blushed with broken blood vessels. Her skin, wrinkled like a raisin dried by the sun. Her hair, undyed, matted, and begging for one last visit to Cut-N-Curl. My Mom, finally frail and almost normal.
That lost years can never be found.
Sally Simon (ze/hir) lives in the Catskills of New York State. Hir writing has appeared in Hobart, Truffles Literary Magazine, After the Pause, and elsewhere. She is a reader for Fractured Lit. When not writing, ze’s either traveling the world or stabbing people with hir epee. Read more at www.sallysimonwriter.com.