Mother Mary

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Chapter 16

i want it to be someone but i know it is not the house is emptyi am alonei am alone and empty i tell myself as i walk down the stairs convincing myself that liam will listen to me if i tell him how empty i feel and how alone i am and that the storm is coming you know what you did don’t ever touch me again i’m sick of you touching me like that even he would have to




i clutch the handrail and go down the stairs it’s dark and the gray clouds have stolen any light there was in the morningthe windows are covered in dew and misti wasn’t always alonei had liam in my belly and he came out and almost died one nightthank god lonnie came home and found him in his crib limp dry pale white as a ghost and i was in a spell in the cornerlonnie took him to the hospital and he was fine

then christy came along and he was supposed to be my girl my little girl i was full and never alonehe was thick and heavy in methere was always the hope that he would be the little girl whose hair i would comb and put barrettes in while we sat on the edge of the bed on payday singing clap hands clap hands until daddy comes home because daddy has money and mommy has nonethe little girl who would have been wrapped in a pink gown when i took her home and showed her to all the old ladies in the neighborhood and they would fawn and say how lovely she was and how blessed i was and she looked just like her mother just perfect

instead christy cracked me in half and i couldn’t move for two months i would wake up and liam would be brushing christy’s teethi would wake up and laim would have thrown all the soup cans into christy’s cribi would wake up and christy’s arm would be hanging broken at the collar bone him crying and liam banging his head against the floor until it bruised and swelledi would wake up and find liam and darlene the girl next door in bed asking me what they were supposed to do next now that they were marriedi had spells all the time and liam and christy looked at me odd and blamed me for things i didn’t dothey said it was me but it wasn’t mehow could it be me if i didn’t know that it was mehow could i be if i was still and not awaketo be is to move and to be awake and to know and i did not know and what did two babies who were always in some world of trouble knowing



i am at the door i hear his electric guitar music bending its way through the wood panel doori hear the record he’s playing to behind the guitarhe knows i am here and that i am alone he knows that i am herehe knows that i amhe knows that ihe knowshe

i knock at the door the wood panel door is emptythe knocks go thud thud thud and fall through the empty space between two panes of woodhe does not hear that i am here alone with a storm just outside the window




i knock again and say liamit’s your motheryour father and brother left me here all alone and this storm is scaring meyou know how i hate to be alonecan you just come out and we’ll talk about whatever you want to talk aboutcan you please come outwill you




my pursuer is on the phone he keeps calling backit’s cruel to keep calling and waiting until it’s dark to do somethingwhy doesn’t the bastard just come get mewhy doesn’t liam just open the doorokay mom what do we do next what do we do now that we’re marriedwell you put your hand right over here see it’s your wedding nightliam i demand you open this doori bang three more times and the dull thud of wood mocks mei hear laughter like the snickering of my pursuer when he crawls over me at night and steals my breath

liam i say and i am about to cry i am scaredjust put down the damned guitar and open the door

have you ever seen these before have i ever seen what beforehave you ever seen one of these before and i took out the magazine that lonnie used to keep in the bottom drawer of his work desk when he was working late at nights and needed a little break a nudie magazine with the girls in the middle spread wide openhave you ever seen this before i asked him and he said no i never saw one of those before why and i say because it looks like your getting to that age when you should know what these look like what these things are like and what they do and how they feel

liam i say will you at least come out and answer this damned phonesomeone has been calling and harassing me all daysome pervertsome freakwill you at least come out and take this call


why why do i need to know all this why do i need to know how they feel and what they do i don’t have any girlfriends yet yes but you’re coming to that age when you just might be in that situation okay mom what do we do nextwhat do we do now that we’re marriedwell you put your hand right over here see it’s your wedding nightand i wouldn’t want you to go out there and not know what to dodon’t you ever get any thoughts about girlsyou must have some thoughts about girlspretty little girls in your classwhy what do you meandon’t back away

it wasn’t me liam i say through the door my face is against the wood but he can’t hear my voicei see my words falling down in between the two wood panels of the door into a corner with cobwebs and rat turds and the fractions of other lies and thingswhatever you say it wasn’t mei swear

there i knew you liked girls its that time of life when you like girlsthat’s what happens when you like girls its normal its naturaldon’t be ashamed here let mommy help you outthis is what you dotherethisjust relaxmommy won’t hurt you

i swear

Dear Christy –

I hope all is going well out there, and that all your expectations are being met.

We had a limited Fourth of July here. “Big Al” procured a couple of boxes of fireworks, and the Luceks were here to help us dispose of them.Tommy, Bill and I went down to the bog to chase frogs and fish, but, try as we might, Tommy came back with us.

By the time you get back, I should have my driveway terrace almost complete. I nearly killed myself yesterday, working in the broiling sun for 4 hours.Came back, got queezy, and felll asleep for an hour – heat exhaustion.But it’s fun.(By the by, there’s plenty of work to be done when you get back.The offer stands.)

The reason that I am writing is that I have to explain something and then ask something. The weekend you left there was a lot going on.

About 17-18 years ago, the family doctor put your mother on a tranquilizer. She’d had hormonal problems with the second pregnancy and had gone into post-partum.(Some women go through this.) She could not be alone.She’d call me at work and beg me to come home.I’d take work home, and, when I took it into another room, she’d need me in the same room!It was all chemical.

But, instead of a tempered treatment, the doctor threw drugs at it, and we, in our youthful ignorance, considered the problem solved. Some months ago, she started suffering ill effects of the medication.She had to get off it.But it was as bad as being a junkie (albeit a socially acceptable one). She got off the original prescription (Triavil) by stepping down to something less potent, and she is on the way to getting off that one.

But the way is hard, as I think you’ve noticed. In fact, it is a royal pain in the ass.But it is something I have to do (… in sickness and in health … etc.)That’s what I had to explain.

Here is what I have to ask. Just try to go along with things.You may or may not accept what’s going on, but without your (even passive) cooperation, things could be much harder.Mother needs quiet at night, a shrug when she gets crazy, and a lot of help in getting through this.I can do this, but not if you don’t understand what’s going on.



Mary Alice

… ring



mommy won’t hurt you i say and lean against the doori want to press myself through to the other side where liam is or at least into the emptiness between the two panes of wood and i’ll stay there away from the ringing telephonei can see him the long drawn ink of his profile and his sharp pointing nose flaring with wide nostrils breathing heavy breath into the receiver his think ink black hand twisted muscular around the handle and the other twisting the cord around his wrist twisted like a broken rosary promise sneering and the twisted rope of his arm muscles flex against his taut chest as he waits for me to answer

it’s like i don’t know what is there and what is not there what is and what is not i believe liam is there and i cannot hear anything but his music so is he or is he not is that music a sound from the strings he bends or are they echoes of what i have heardi press myself hard against the door and knock again three empty thuds falling into the door void of the corners of the door with all the rest

i can’t lose control again i can’t go back to the hospital againi promisedi sworei told myselfi told mairei told my mother my doctors my fatheri told all the others too

there’s only the ringing in my ears now the phone is silent i can hear the rain spitting at the window and tapping on the aluminum sidingthe storm is just about to start and i sink down to the floor and just wait by the doori can’t press through with my bodyi cannot be aether and press through the grain of the wood into the other side where i will be with liam who came at this time of the year when it was raining tooi would lay in bed at night with lonnie snoring next to me stinking of liquor and cigarettes and his hair flopped over his forehead and liam in his crib next door crying for milk or food or fear or who knew what and i could not move and lonnie did not move and i only wondered how i could split and feel so empty and how once emptied i could hate what came from me so much and need it to be there crying in the next room just to have the sound of something that came from me even if i let him cry for milk or water until lonnie came home from work and held him limp in his arms and rushed him off to the hospital and said he was dehydrated somehow and i couldn’t even move because if he died it would have filled me with something else that was not him or his brother or what lonnie gave me but it was a stone anyway solidfear and guilt can be real tooi would swell up on tears and look at him die and that would fill me and i would be forgiven in the hour of his death since the crib would be empty and they would fear for me being alone and not blame me for his death because what mother would want her child deadeven if my sister said i was never much of a mother letting my boys run around with dirty feet and locking them out of the house and letting them cry all day and all night and after all who would want any of her kids dead

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