Mum’s gone to work.
I drink tea and vitamin water
by the window
and read a book:
What It Means To Be a Daughter
reading a good line,
I feel it all on me –
sometimes, what you hate about your mother is just what you hate about yourself
Everything is a different colour when I open my eyes
like the oily pool where my imagination lies
Outside, smoking, with everything at ease
I listen to the trees
like I listen to my sister, shouting,
through the wall on my knees
It’s dull when I stamp on the floorboards
As dull as my aunt who calls me ‘hers’
giving me her old records.
It’s quiet and I’m alone
it’s almost half-three
So I login to my computer, where
my driving instructor says to me
on Zoom (isn’t that crazy?)
I’m not concentrating
That I’ll go where I look when I’m out on the road.
There’s a chain, she says, connecting my eyes to my brain to the wheels of the car–
So I’ll drift up into stranger’s houses
where I sometimes see a bookcase and wonder what they like to read.
Mum gets back from work
and says I smell like an old lady
she sniffs and dismisses my fingers
and tells me to wash them before it lingers
and to rinse my mouth with the blue stuff she drinks
that makes her sick in the sink
so much it comes up the shower drain
So I wash with soap and hope
one day I don’t rinse my kids mouth out with this
(for saying something like Fuck the Pope)
because I was dared to by Cousin Chris.
All the rules she had, lost to drinking
Now Mum’s back she changes everything
she snaps the curtains shut and
says, I’m remarrying
(for the seventh time)
I ignore her and she climbs the stairs
stopping halfway to catch her breath
Her guy, his name is Seth
And she didn’t believe me when I told her that’s the devil’s name.
For dinner, I heat up last night’s meal
pork covered in mushrooms
(I scrapped off the yellow stuff beginning to congeal)
In the night, the window shines back the reflection of the show Mum’s watching
and I eat
and she doesn’t
and she speaks her judgment
about things on screen.
Life’s so much faster when she’s home
(with the friend on her shoulder, shrewd and unseen)
I’m finishing the dishes when my sister sneaks in
with a finger to her lips
Did I wake Satan?
I shake my head. Mum’s passed out
and we’ve got to the point where
my sister’s happy about it and you know what?
I don’t care.
She’ll be upstairs tonight
on the phone, in a fight
with a boyfriend called Clayton
who she’s always calling tight because
he makes her pay for half the gas
when he drives her around all night.
with the remote at her feet
so I go up to my room and read and write:
‘I hope Mum doesn’t wake up again
thinking it’s all alright.’
© 2020 J. D. Halcro
Available under the Thanet Writers Education Policy
J. D. Halcro completed an MA in novel writing at City, University of London and writes short stories as well as novels.