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On my doorstep a package. On the package no name but I’m pretty sure it’s from my mom even though she died 10 years ago today – in one sense a messy death – the other a success according to the surgeon who said her hip was healing beautifully – the messy bit was her organs shut down over 24 hours.
I recognize her handwriting as if she’d written it yesterday – her favorite purple pen too – along with the little hearts over the i’s and the slant of the pen to the right – hold on – one time in Johannesburg I wouldn’t eat the ice cream she wanted to get – I thought it would bring out the lions and Mom laughed and called me a looney bird – she called me that right up until she stopped speaking and I had to put her in the dementia ward – instead of smelling like Chanel No 5 she stank of ammonia – from when the ward sisters forgot to change her Laura Ashley nightie – hospital gown – the place was none too clean and I’d idle away the odd hour crushing ants in the washbasin – her frowning the whole time – looney bird her lips mouthed – she thought I couldn’t make it out but I knew – the package might be a bomb – I’d not put it past her.
I’m shivering– like someone stepped over my grave – or hers – the ticking ticking ticking – tiny hearts over the i’s little bells ringing a call to prayer for all the bad children now caretakers who dot their i’s with tiny hearts crying – I’m here – I matter – never say die she’d say – my one A + in history not enough to please her – or was it never give in – a magnet on the fridge from the shop by Blenheim Castle – how I couldn’t drive the car with its stick shift and she showed me the gear box working it perfectly her hands like the surgeon who fixed her hip – that long slow climb up to her bed he said shouldn’t be a problem anymore – she’s as good as new – but the ward GP said she’d only a few hours left and the surgeon skedaddled and sent in his female assistant to tell me again how beautifully Mom’s hip was healing – and by morning she was gone – at least I thought she was until the package with her handwriting – so like mine – right down to the tiny little hearts dotting the i’s.
About Roberta Beary
Roberta Beary grew up in Queens, New York and identifies as gender-fluid. Honors: Winner Bridport Prize for Poetry, Best Microfiction 2019 & 2021, Best Small Fictions 2020 & 2022. Their work is featured in The New York Times, Rattle Magazine, Atticus Review and other publications. A trauma survivor, they divide their time between USA and Ireland.
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