Story Fragment 1. Tanner Roe

I hold her underwear close to the floor and wait. She sways a little and I reach up to put her hand on my back. I tap her right foot and then her left, guiding each through their holes. I pull the underwear up just above her knee, close enough for her to take over. I look the other way as I hand her a bra. Her hands are shaky and I can hear her as she fights with the clasp. I let her try until she gives up, and then I turn around to do it for her. She sighs.

She sits in a chair now in her white skinny jeans with her leg propped up on the bathroom sink, and the other spread out. She’s waiting for me to do her makeup. I smooth foundation onto her face and watch as it sinks into her wrinkles. She tells me she wants to be as pretty as I am. I kiss her cheek. “Did you know Tom’s favorite color was blue?” she asks. I nod and she closes her eyes so I can dust her lids in blue.

When i’m done I give her a hand held mirror, which she holds in front of her face to inspect her makeup. There’s a slight crack on the right side of the mirror. I watch as she trails her finger over her right cheek in search of the imperfection. It’s smooth. She moves the mirror all around and sighs. “Well, do I look young yet?” she asks me. I kiss her cheek again. “Always.” I whisper in her ear.

She likes to laugh this morning. I listen from the kitchen as I scramble her eggs. The sound floats in and mixes with the hiss of the pan. I turn off the stove and move to the doorway. She’s talking to someone on the phone; every couple of words ending in laughter. I rest my head on the side of the wall and listen. I want to remember how she sounds for later. How many bad days had we gone through to get to a good one? Too many, and more to come.

On days like this I like to trick myself into believing I can still be her daughter, not the other way around. When she gets off the phone we’ll laugh and eat breakfast together. We’ll pretend I didn’t see her naked this morning. We’ll talk about work, because she remembers that I have a job. She has four grandchildren, and she calls them by name as she asks me about them. She reminds me what we have planned for today. When the phone rings after breakfast i’ll call for her to get it. I don’t need to listen, because she’s not going to give her credit card information out to the person on the other end. When we go to the store later she hold’s her own purse. She puts it down on a table to look at a pair of shoes. When she’s done she picks it back up. I never have to say anything.

In the dressing room we pass by a woman who is helping an older woman into a shirt. The sleeves are twisted. The woman tries to fix them, but can only seem to make it worse. Mom squeezes my hand. “Don’t let me get old.” she says. I lean in to kiss a wrinkle on her cheek. “You wont be like that.” I promise.

She wanders in later to eat breakfast. I put a plate in front of her as she sits down. We smile at each other. “Where’s Tom?” she asks. Just like that the day is gone. How do you remind your own mother that their husband is dead, and worse that he has been for months? You lie.

“He went to the store. Im not sure when he’ll be back.” I tell her. She doesn’t say anything, but I know she’s thinking. She’s lost in her head, moving further from me with ever question that ends in a lie.

At night I tuck her into his sheets and swaddle her in his comforter. I curl up beside her and search for her hand in the dark. I squeeze it as she rocks herself back and forth until she disappears from me. Sleep is never a relief. Her foot bangs against the bed all night. Sometimes she cries out for him, but the dark only echoes his absence. Other times I watch as she lets only a few silent tears slide down her face. I tighten my hand around her’s to comfort her, but mostly to reassure myself that she’s still here.

In the morning when she wakes I look to see how much of her has disappeared over night. I am terrified that one night she will lose me in her sleep. Her pupils are dilated; a black hole in the midst of a blue sea. Each night I throw her my hand as an anchor, hoping that when she falls I can keep her from sinking too deep. Now, I stare into her eyes waiting for the hole to shrink. I reach for a tissue to brush the dried up tears away from the corner of her eyes. She scrunches her face as she comes to. The wrinkles on her forehead join and grow into a maze of confusion. She tells me that her head throbs and she wonders why she’s been crying.

She’s bitter this morning, and she doesn’t hesitate to let me know. I pick out her clothes for her, and drape them across the ironing board. The steam from the iron hisses as I drag it across her white pants. One by one, I smooth out each wrinkle. When i’m done I lay them out on the bed, remembering to unbutton and unzip the pants first. I place the shirt face down so that she can slide her arms through on the bed like we practiced. Im picking out her shoes when she walks in holding a blue shirt and a pair of striped blue pants.

“Here you go Mom, lets put this on over here.” I say motioning to the outfit on the bed. She barely glances over, but her nose wrinkles up. “Oh Tammy, I can’t wear that!” she says disgusted. She thrusts the blue outfit at me. “It needs to be ironed.” she tells me. I stare at her, or whoever she is right now, until she turns her back to me. I hang the white pants and shirt back in the closet. They’ll wrinkle before she wears them again.

She struggles to get dressed, but she wont let me help her. I go downstairs to start breakfast. She comes down much later, and I can tell she’s been crying again. Her shirt is inside out and I can see her blue bra poking through the sheer blue fabric. She’s managed to zip her pants, but the button remains unbuttoned. I notice that she’s tried to do her makeup. The orange of the foundation has not been rubbed in, and its sits in blotches smeared around her face. She cant find the gold bracelet that Tom bought her, and so she blames me for putting it away in the wrong place. I burn her eggs.

She goes out to get the mail. I put her eggs in front of her and she pushes them away. I want to push her away, but I don’t. I crack two more eggs. I watch over her shoulder as she goes through the mail. When I see a bill I try to take it from her, but i’m too late and she opens it. She tries to pay it, but she doesn’t remember how. She dials numbers on her telephone hoping that maybe she’ll reach the right one. A dial tone pierces through the speaker, and I rush over to press end while she covers her ears.

She sorts the rest of the mail into strange piles. She thinks that we need coupons so she saves them, and throws away bills. When she leaves I work behind her, redoing all that she has undone.

She comes back in a huff and slams the door. I’m mad and I slam two more. She yells at me, because she’s sick. Im sick to yell back. She’s deteriorating before my eyes. How do you love someone when they’re slowly turning into someone else?

There’s quiet. I hear her heavy breaths from behind doors. Im walking to her now as I hear her cry out. I push through the last door and she screams.

Her eyes are frozen as she stares at me in surprise. She tries to close the door on me, but I hold it open against her. Her arms flail as she backs up looking for something to grab.

“Get out of my house!” she screams.

“Mom?” I whisper.

Her eyes are glazed and her forehead wrinkles. We stare at each other. She doesn’t know me and I don’t know her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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troe

September 9th

Uncategorized

Miss Lora

After reading Junot Diaz’s story “Miss Lora” I was left with a strange feeling. In just fourteen pages Diaz has managed to open two heavy topics; the death of a brother and sex with an older woman. Diaz had my attention from the first paragraph in the way he dives straight into the story. His writing takes me by surprise in how open and at times vulgar it is. However, this is also what kept me hooked. I felt for the main character who struggles with the death of his brother and the way he lets it effect some of the choices he makes. He seems confused in life. He has a girlfriend, but she’s not really what he wants so he gets with an older woman to get a taste of sex. He goes through more girlfriends, but ends up looking for the older woman again. At the end of the story I felt an eerie sadness for him in the last line “Both of you blinked.” He could never get it straight after his brother died, and we see that after all these years he questions if he would have still done it if not for his brother.

Along with the attachment to the main character I enjoyed the story being written in second person, once I finally figured out what was going on. The way he was talking to his younger self added to the sadness for me. At the end of the story he still seemed lost and to think about him telling the story to himself again and asking if he would still make the same decisions just seemed hopeless.

Although I couldn’t read the parts of the story that were in Spanish I thought it worked well. It added to the honesty of the story. Diaz is so open with the character’s thoughts and the vulgarity of them that there’s no reason that the way the character speaks shouldn’t be realistic as well.

“Miss Lora” surprised me and I like that. When I started reading the story I definitely didn’t expect the first paragraph to include “I’d fuck her. You’d fuck anything, someone jeered.” As strange as I felt about the ending I wouldn’t want it to be any other way, because the whole story is strange and thats what makes me keep thinking about it.

 

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troe

September 3rd

Uncategorized
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November 2017
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