Writings

Everything and Nothing

She looked directly into her husband’s eyes and asked him, “what do you do for our children?”

“Enough”, he answered, taking a sip of his brownish drink, the ice clinking together as he brought the glass to his lips.

She took a deep breath, remembering the many times he criticized her while she stayed home on maternity leave to care for their baby. The many times he came home after work to find her still in her pajamas, hair unwashed, smelling of spit-up milk, sleep deprived, and accused her of being lazy. She remembered how he told her she is “getting paid to do nothing” post-partum, and how he walked past the baby and straight to the couch. She remembered the look on his face, pure disgust, when she showed him the pregnancy test she had taken, proving they were going to have a second child. How he told her, “this isn’t gonna happen.”

But it did happen. He couldn’t stop it from happening. Even though he took great pleasure in moments that led to it happening.

She felt the heat rising from inside her chest, into her cheeks, into her brain.

“I do everything for them”, she said to him, her voice quiet but laced with contempt.

“No”, he responded, “if you do everything, that means I do nothing.”

Her mind raced, as she thought of all the things she did, day in and day out, night after night.

Breastfeeding, bottle feeding, diaper changing, walking around all night to sooth their crying baby, bath time, reading books, playing down on the floor, balancing a cranky baby while cooking or doing laundry, going for walks with the stroller (and later, a double stroller), buying new clothes every few months, making baby food, cleaning baby food, ensuring they get all their vaccinations, dealing with illnesses and doctors appointments, picking up their prescriptions, arranging play dates, finding a suitable daycare. Then, as they grew up, making sure their children got into good schools, attending all the parent-teacher interviews, all the school performances, taking them to birthday parties, planning their own birthday parties, paying for school trips, chaperoning school trips, paying for extracurricular activities, arranging music lessons and swimming lessons and never missing a recital or performance, taking all their photos and making photo albums, arranging for family dinners and get togethers so their children got to know both sides of the family, reading books every night and helping with homework. Wiping their tears, cuddling them, sleeping with them, waking up in the middle of the night when one of them has a bad dream, massaging their legs when they have growing pains, giving them medicines to fight fevers, taking time off work to care for them, fighting with the bus company when the school bus was late, making daycare payments, making dentist appointments, finding the warmest winter jackets and hats and mittens and neck warmers and snow pants, taking them to the movies, taking them out to eat, packing their school lunches at 5am, playing with them, taking them to the park, building snowmen with them, breaking up the sibling rivalries, scrubbing their vomit out of the carpet, having dance time in the kitchen, scrapbooking their artwork, taking them to the library, being silly with them, being serious with them, answering all of their questions, teaching them how to become good people, how to treat others with kindness…oh the list went on.

She knew there was so much more. And there would continue to be more. She smiled to herself as she watched him drink.

Let him think what he wants. I’m the one making memories while it all passes him by. He does nothing. He has nothing. I have all of the moments of magic and wonder. Moments he missed out on and will never again have the opportunity to experience.

She took pleasure in knowing that one day their children would come to the same conclusion she had. She watched him drink, wanting to throw it in his face. But she wouldn’t. She gets the memories. He gets misery. That’s his own punishment.

“Mama!” she heard her children call, “mama we need you!”

She exhaled, drawing away from him, turning her back on him, leaving him alone with his drink.

Short Stories, Writings

The Savages, The Slut & The Sun

She was the second born child of three. The second daughter, the second sister. The middle child. She resented her younger sibling because he took the attention away from her. Everyone loved him most. Also, he was a boy. Which was, of course, more than a girl could ever be. She resented her elder sibling because she was too emotional, too kind. A stupid girl.

She often acted out at home and would be punished. The punishments were usually beatings. Sometimes she would steal from the grocery store for attention. But that just led to more punishment. The kids at school called her ugly and fat. So she found solace in nature; insects, plants, animals. There were times she would find injured birds or ducks and bring them home in shoe boxes, hoping to save them. But they died. They always died.

She cried. She sobbed loudly into her pillow, praying for a friend.

At school, she sat in the bathroom stall with a small pair of scissors and would cut herself on her arms. She was sure no one would notice. But some kids found out and told the teacher. That only led to more punishment.

During family gatherings, relatives would ask her why she was so fat and why her sister was so skinny. “Maybe you’ve been eating all of her food!”, they would say, laughing, and clapping their hands together.

As she grew into a teen, she began getting some attention. But not the right kind. Not the kind she had always longed for. There was a boy, a much older boy, whom she really liked. When he found out about her crush, he manipulated her and took advantage of her. She was only seventeen. And he was twenty-five years old. He told all of his friends about her. They took advantage of her, too. They all crushed her.

Soon, the word spread in the community. She was The Slut.

Her family sent her away; far away, to another country, where she could be disciplined. But she was taken advantage of there, too. Abused. Assaulted. Used.

Soon enough, she broke. She knew she would never be enough. She would never be loved. She would never be respected. She was untouchable. Dirty. Filthy. Slut.

One night she swallowed a bunch of sleeping pills, hoping to never wake up, but she survived. “She’s always looking for attention,” they all said behind her back.

For several weeks, she received a phone call in the middle of the night from a blocked number. When she answered, the voice would respond, “are you dead yet?”

She left the house one day, wearing a short skirt, low tank top, high heels, with a purse hanging from her shoulder. Her sister ran after her. “Please”, she begged, “don’t do this.” She looked at her elder sister’s face; wet with tears. “Get away from me”, she responded. And she left.

Abused. Assaulted. Used. She carried on. She became what they told her she was. She might as well be. The Slut. It’s what they all saw. It’s all they ever saw.

She held her head high, not letting them see her tears, her agony. She held her head high through miscarriages, depression,and more assault.

Her family said, “she is worse than a prostitute”, “she dresses like a whore”, “when will she learn her lesson?”, “she has no self-respect.”

And when she brought home a baby, they said, “it’s a bastard”, “she’s no longer welcome in this family”, “she should have died when she attempted suicide.”

She brought her baby to a homeless shelter, where she was given a crib, clothing, food, toys.

She read him books, sang him songs, and kissed his head as he fed from her breast. She taught him kindness and love. Through her child’s eyes, she began to see the world a little differently. Maybe it wasn’t so dark. Maybe it wasn’t so evil. Maybe she had a little bit of power to make it all better.

As she watched the sun rise higher every morning, her days became brighter. Her wounds, very slowly, began to heal. The sun’s rays reached into every dark corner of her life, chasing away the shadows of the past. The past that would haunt her in her dreams.

Until the morning came again. And the sun, her sun, lifted up her face, looked into her eyes and said, “mama, you’re so beautiful. I love you.”

 

 

 

 

Poetry

Mother

There once was a girl, seven years old
Whose mother died from poison,
Or so the story is told.

The girl grew up; angry, afraid
Of monsters and darkness,
And the shadows she made.

She married, had children, lived in despair
For she wished more than anything
That her mother was there.

The world was against her, or so she believed
Her body ached with agony, even with
Every prayer she weaved.

Her children married, had children, and lived in despair
For their mother was unhappy
And her pain they could not bear.

She had three grandchildren, radiant and bright
They ran to her and hugged her
With all their might.

She looked at her children and grandchildren
The love that they shared, and realized then
Her mother had always been there.