Tuesday, April 05, 2005

You Are More Dead To Me Than Your Dead Mother

This is my attempt at flash fiction.

Anyone who has been here even once before knows that I am a long-winded bitch, and no one knows that better than me (oh, my aching fingers!). I wanted to see if I was capable of being succinct, and this is a challenge to me not only because I write a lot, but because I hate to self-edit. This one clocks in at 387 words, so yay for me, and yay for you, a quick read for once!


The buzzer from the downstairs lobby sounds in my apartment, and my heartbeat quickens in response. Who dares drop by unannounced? I send my query down the voice box, and the crackling voice that responds is my mother’s. My mother’s! Four months I’ve been living on my own, and she picks today to surprise me with a visit.

All I can do is send her up. I have to. I have 15 seconds at most as she walks up the flight of stairs and squints at the rusty numbers nailed to our doors. I survey the scene: empty pizza boxes, laundry both dirty and clean, textbooks and foolscap scattered haphazardly, trampled CD cases, empty bottles of Crown Royal, junk mail and take-out menus, candle wax, and gym bags. The mess is monumental. But it’s not my fault, at least, not really. I go to school full-time. And I work full-time. That’s 2 full times! Logically, each person can only have one full-time since full-time suggests all the time is full. And yet I fill my time twice, somehow, and am learning to be a wife and co-ed and a self-sufficient adult at the same time. What I don’t seem to find time for is tidying the apartment as much as I should. And now my mother will know. Shit.

I run first to the small bathroom, and do what I can in there. It’s not enough. Not enough by far. Then I kick things hurriedly under the bed, and try to cover the most obvious stains on the bed with rumpled sheets. I fill my arms with all manners of sin and stuff them in unforgiving, bulging closets.

And then I hear my mother’s polite knock. I’m not ready to open the door. I can’t possibly dream of letting her in, and yet every moment she spends out in the hallway is another moment for her to notice the burnt out light bulbs, the mysterious stain on the carpet, or the intense scent wafting from the drug dealer’s neighboring apartment. So, I pull back the chain and twist the deadbolt while silently praying to a god I haven’t said hello to in quite a while. I smile bravely as I open to the door to my mother, feeling that I have officially failed as a grown-up.

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