Nobody should ever see their mother cry. Never see your mother cry.

It was in England. You’re 15.

In retrospect,
it feels like I was younger.

You always know there’s something up when anyone says, “Sit down, there’s something we have to talk about.” I wasn’t asked to sit down, I was told.

Why’s Mom’s face ghostly and why’s Dad’s grave? Your brother’s trembling a little bit, and your sister’s confused. Of course, you’re the last one in the room. Your mother started wearing her dark brown hair short. Let’s pretend that there’s ever-changing blurs where their faces are meant to be.

There’s two brown couches—leather, bulbous ones—and a dark brown coffee table. Lots of dark brown furniture’s in the room, a hutch, a clock, and a dark carpet too. Mom’s sitting on a green armchair in the corner, facing the couches, and Dad’s sat on a painted black wooden chair, directly across from you.

Dad does his very best to explain, I think. But how can you explain something like that to teenagers?! And his best isn’t so great anyways. To the most rational of them, it’d come out like, “The foundation of your beliefs on trust is rotten. It’s my fault; well, it’s her fault; well, really, it’s nobody’s fault. Either way, we’ve decided that you’re about to become a liability, but to the both of us. We love you.” To the least, it’s probably just traumatic. I was surprised, I didn’t see it coming, and, and I think I’m observant…but to be hit by  ricochet out of the blue.

It’s no bo dies fault? Then what? Then this is just a thing that happens. The air is brittle and stale.

Okay, this is just a thing that happens.

Mom won’t stop crying, and doesn’t really interject during the sermon, or tirade, or announcement, but seethes, and later occasionally contradicts. You remember when she had that bad reaction to poison ivy, and was sat in your living room armchair, the same way, but red, swollen, helpless; it’s horrifying. She’s beginning to collect herself.

The room seems eternal; when you’re so involved in the plot that you hardly notice the standstill.

Your brother, the oldest, had made plans to go out that night with friends. He insists on leaving: at first, neither parent wants to let him, and then it’s just your mom protesting, begging. He leaves anyway.

You and your sister are on the couch. ‘Tween the announcement and your brother, your parents are dead to the world. Your mom is still citric and Dad just blank. You go to your room. I don’t know where my sister went, and I should’ve checked on her.

Time passes and you begin to normalize the experience. It becomes a reality that you can identify in other’s lives, too. You accept the inevitability of the past, but wonder about the inevitability of the future.

When their relationship is toxic, it’s hard; you have to learn to love the little things (and making friends is important).

I forgot what it feels like to be excited.
Somewhere along the way, wires were crossed and now the fragility and
tentativeness of positive future action is too much a priority in my head. I neglect
the potential outcome-if-all’s-well, and see, prioritize, solely witness the matrix of
possibility that something will inevitably change, and that change will in turn lead to ruin.
I can’t chill out, but that doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is my fear of enthusiasm.

***

For all installments from 30 Birds, click here.

Previous installments:

  1. “Velvet” by the Bloody Eyes
  2. “Subtle” by Yukio Mishima
  3. “Geronimo Sunset!” by Jun. 27
  4. “My Hero” by Annie Wonoffate Million
  5. “Gender” by Jun. 27, Part 1
  6. “Gender” by Jun. 27, Part 2
  7. “Eel Dogs ‘Til Stupid” by Jun. 27
  8. “Pleasant Town” by Jun. 27
  9. “Daffy” by Herman Barker
  10. “Classic, Ecstatic, and Shocked (My First Kiss)” by John Robert Barnes
  11. I Would/Would I?/Wouldn’t You?
  12. “Fabled” by Jun. 27
  13. “Simpatico Starring Matthew McConaughey” by Harrison Ford
  14. “Tarantella” by Jun. 27
  15. “That Time a Toucan Was in Our Backyard/The Very First Thing I Can Remember” by John Robert Barnes
  16. “Gutwrenching (Sadism in Palindrome)” by the Bloody Eyes
  17. “Maraschino” by John Robert Barnes
  18. “Church and God” by John Robert Barnes
  19. “And a Phanta?smagoria” by John Robert Barnes
  20. “Velvet (Cont’d)” by the Bloody Eyes
  21. “Magnanimous Magpies” by the Bloody Eyes
  22. “Amusical” by Jun. 27