March 10, 2013 § Leave a comment
“Mama, we have anything to eat?” “Sure, Punkin, here.” Mama’s arm shot back, the sound of her fingers crackling cellophane as she passed the Krispy Kremes from the front seat to the back. Before my stomach growled, I had been trying to guess license plates, pretending to have a contest with Daddy like we did before he left us. Mama said she talked to him until she was blue in the face trying to make him stay but he didn’t pay her no mind. Not after that manicurist got his attention. But if you ask me, I don’t think Mama’s heart was in it. Otherwise, she could of talked him into staying, even if it was only for a little while.
“Now don’t you be sulking back there young lady.” My mama always said she had eyes in the back of her head and I believed her. “Your sister okay?”
Mary Virginia was up in the rear view window, looking at the stars, tapping her fingernails on the glass, her eyes not an inch away. She moved this way and that, making little huff and puff sounds trying to keep from falling into the back seat. She had grown a foot, Mama said, since our car trip last summer. Still looked little to me. At least little enough to squeeze herself up there in the back window. Before I got too big for it we had to draw straws for who got to sleep there. But not when Daddy was with us.
Before he left us we all – including Mama who was mostly always happy then – jumped out of the car to watch Daddy in the moonlight. He would dig down deep into his pockets, jingle his change and finally bring out the coin that felt just right I guess. He would turn this way and that, making sure we all saw the coin he chose, and then he would toss the coin high in the sky while we held our breaths. The coin caught the flash of moonbeams as it flipped over and over before daddy scooped it out of the sky like it was no more than a firefly. Then with a slap he moved it from his right palm to the back of his left hand. With his big grin he would lean down, his warm face next to ours, and say “What’ll it be for you girls tonight? Heads or tails?” Only then could we take another breath.
After receiving her PhD in 1997, Katherine Horrigan taught as an adjunct English Professor for the University of Houston. Both print and online journals including The Birmingham Arts Journal, The Rusty Nail, and The Prose Poem Project have published her poetry, plays, and short stories. Her poetry has also been published in the 2013 Texas Poetry Calendar and she recently completed Drought, a novel set in South Texas. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image: Ginkgo Biloba, By Leigh-Anne Fraser
June 24, 2012 § Leave a comment
Her hands are much smaller with mine clasped around them. Our bodies are stiff, arms stretched out to full extension as we spin, fast, in a lopsided circle. Mom’s dresser tangled in jewelry swirls by then the patchwork comforter covering the bed, then the pink couch, and the doorway to the kitchen, back to the dresser. My eyes focus on her, she’s wearing a Winnie the Pooh nighty, it used to be mine. The pink fabric has almost faded to a white and the characters to a whisper of color, but it’s her favorite. Squished up into our combined fist and woven through our fingers is her blanket–yellow with tattered silk trim, dripping off the edge, Nunny; her blanket’s name is Nunny. We keep spinning. The new movie Titanic’s theme song, My Heart Will Go On, drones on in the background. It’s my new favorite song because our babysitter went to go see it with her friends but Mom told me I was too young for that– maybe when I’m older. As we spin, I let go of her grasp causing her to lose footing and fall to the ground. She stays down for a minute, but then smiles and get’s back up. She’s only four, I’m six. She pulls herself up and grabs on to my hands again, leaning to the right to start spinning. My eyes fill with water and tears begin to pour down my exhausted cheeks. What would I do if she went down and never got back up?
Jackie Carlson is a student at SUNY Cortland. She loves reading, eating, writing, and laughing.
Image: Rose, By Leigh-Anne Fraser
February 7, 2012 § 4 Comments
You’re sitting on a stained white couch, the cushions so soft you worry you won’t be able to stand back up with any kind of grace. You want to grab one of the throw pillows and hug it to yourself for comfort but wonder if that would make you look needy or neurotic or whatever it is your body language will say. So you sit up as straight as you can on the squishy sofa and refuse to let your arms cross in self defense.
The therapist might be a little older than you. It’s hard to say. High desert climate isn’t kind to skin. You’re glad you haven’t lived here all your life and feel desperate to leave before your own skin turns to leather. You like her jeans, her shoes, and her trendy glasses. And then she tells the two of you that your daughter is exhibiting signs of BPD. Borderline Personality Disorder. You reach for your husband’s hand. Your fingers entwine with familiar ease. It’s not that you didn’t already know.
When she tells you that your daughter is terrified of being just like her biological mother you squirm. Your husband says, If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck. You stare at the floor to hide your Picasso face, one eye filled with amusement, the other with outrage. If you had three eyes, the third would be a fresco of sadness.
The therapist isn’t big on labeling. You aren’t in love with it either, but if it walks like a duck. Your feathered daughter is a master at projection and manipulating the truth. She lives in a black and white world, is impulsive, violent, self-destructive, histrionic and narcissistic.
You leave the counseling session and drive straight to the bookstore. You love the bookstore and you find yourself relaxing, wandering around, even after you find the book you are looking for. You buy your daughter a present, a henna tattoo kit. It looks fun. Maybe she can draw on herself rather than cut herself.
It takes only five of the nine behaviors for a BPD diagnosis. She somehow exhibits all nine daily. You read on and begin to wonder if your ex-husband was a BPD. That would explain a lot.
Michelle Bidwell lives in rural Idaho and works as a Field Interviewer for Research Triangle Institute. She is a longstanding member of the Diving Deeper Writing Workshop. She loves to read, write, garden, and hang out with her dogs. Michelle is a mother of five and very proud grandmother of three.
Image: Reflections and Light, By Stephen Martin