An older son contrasts life with each of his divorced parents.
|My mother’s like a tyrannosaurus rex on steroids, but her pudgy folds of what she calls muscle remind me more of a husky than a flesh-eating dinosaur. My father’s the golden retriever of the family, although it’s not much of a family anymore.
My mom bellows at me from the kitchen to clean my goddamn bedroom, her voice echoing until it reaches my little sister’s room. I can hear her sobbing, shaking beneath her covers as if she’ll be struck by lightning at any minute. My mother is the unexpected storm, waiting to creep upon us. My sister and I, we are the prey that fuels her fury.
At my dad’s apartment, Jess and I watch Saturday morning cartoons on Sundays. Dad flips us flapjacks over the stove, and I help scramble a carton full of eggs. Jess’s attempt at making bacon is sitting patiently in the microwave. We always laugh and eat it anyway, our plates colliding on the coffee table while Dad finds a movie for us to watch on Pay-per-view.
Mom is still thundering at me from her place by the fridge. There’s no upstairs to her house, so her muscular self could hunt me down in a heartbeat if necessary. She never does. She’s locked to her refrigerator, content with her fat-free mayonnaise and gallon jugs of sweet tea.
Dad always practices football with me in his miniature backyard, but that’s fine by me. He takes my little sister shopping sometimes, gets her anything her little heart desires. He takes me to Yankee Stadium too, catches the winning ball and somehow gets both teams to sign it.
My mother has taken the time to find me today. I’m crying in my closet. “Please, make it stop. Make it stop, make it stop, make it stop…” Mom doesn’t stop. I can’t see her from under a trench coat I’ve toppled over my head, but I know she’s coming for me. I hear her panting, her terrorizing claws resting on my knee and finding their way into my flesh. I’m fighting to hold back my tears.
Dad always calls at the worst times, when Mom’s remembered to take her meds or is finally stone cold sober. Jess and I can handle her then. It’s those times that we aren’t her prey anymore- we’re her children. Today is different. We’re her prey, her late-night dinner, and Dad is calling.
I’m shouting for Jess, but Mom’s hand only presses harder against my mouth as she breathes fiery monstrosities into my ear. The phone stops ringing, and Jess runs past the doorway sobbing, her face soaking wet, flashing a brilliant thumbs down in my direction. Our code.
Dad is on his way home from work.
Dad is coming.
Free at last, we are free at last.