Saturday 16 June 2018

'Mine' by Eden Royce

Mother wears me like a skin.
            Or a coat she can put away when no longer needed. 
Mother shows me off, exposes me when she wants the world to see. Covers me up when she’d rather not know I’m there, like a mole or a scar on otherwise perfect flesh. 
Mother takes what she wants from me. I gave you the ultimate gift. Can’t you give me a little something? Don’t I deserve it? 
My perfume scents her neck. My handbag has her life in it—phone, wallet, but my lipstick, which isn’t a shade that flatters her. The color makes her teeth look translucent, unnatural, as if they could move on their own, grip and rip without her knowledge or care. 
And they do.
I hide as much of myself from her as I can. I opened an account at another bank, online, so I will have my own money in case I might someday get out of this town and away. Distance myself from her sharp smile, her outstretched hand.
Don’t I deserve it?
She comes into my room as I’m getting ready for bed, combing my hair before I put it in braids for the night. 
Her sigh of longing makes me freeze. 
I wish I had this hair, she says, taking the comb from me and running the wide teeth through my locks. She combs from the scalp, which I never do, tugging through snarls until my head tilts back and I wince. Her gaze meets mine in the mirror, revealing a shadowy place where her memories tumble over each other, clawing for purchase.
No, I won’t say more. She’s... my mother.
The look in her eyes soon clears. Becomes determination, razor-edged and glistening. The comb’s raking gentles. It strokes through my hair, removing tangles in a thoughtful, methodical rhythm. Soft movement that keeps me stiff with fear. 
Because I know. 
She puts down the comb, then faces me. Runs her palms over my now detangled strands. She reaches under my waterfall of hair, her fingers curl into the flesh of my nape. Her nails press. 
Don’t I deserve it?

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