Letting Life Lead
I spat toothpaste into my great-grandmother’s antique porcelain bowl, followed with a swish-spit of water, and showed my grandfather’s shaving mirror my smile for inspection. Every morning, I remembered my ancestors through the things they left behind, and one day I would add my mother’s favorite necklace to my morning routine.
I better not say that out loud. It sounds like I’m a serial killer collecting mementos of my victims.
“You know, we have a perfectly good bathroom.” Louis, my lover — because saying boyfriend at my age seemed ridiculous — leaned against the bedroom door frame, uncrossed his arms, and redirected his hands to his pockets. I told him when we first met that I noticed that he crossed his arms to show off his biceps.
“I don’t like keeping my toothbrush where I shit,” I said, bringing the bowl and brush to the kitchen to clean. I rubbed my behind on his thigh as I passed, though there was plenty of room. He drew his brows together, opened his mouth, and then closed it again. “Weird, but logical right?”
I am rewarded with a kiss and a smirk. “A valid point, and I feel like I need to bleach my mouth. Is there anything else I’ve been doing wrong?”
“Plenty, but we’ve only been shacking up a couple of days. Let’s take it slow.” I tousled the glints of sliver in his soft black curls. Showering before bed, I hoped, would come naturally through observation. A clean body should go into a clean bed, my mother would say.
Louis studied my face and smoothed the sorrowful lines from my brows with his thumbs. “Going to see your mother today?”
I nodded and glanced at myself as I passed the hall mirror. When did I get that old? This is certainly not the image of myself in The Matrix. Is that…is that a chin hair? My fingers brushed against the offending whisker, and then I yanked it. Pain made my eyes water, but it stayed fast. I glared at Louis as if it were his fault, and he held up his hands. The sniffles overtook me and I forced back the sob.
“Stupid hormones.” I wiped my cheeks roughly with my hands. “You know, I still can’t believe that old lady knew I was pregnant before I did.”
“I don’t think much gets past your mother.”
“No.” I bit my lip. “I wish she would let me bring her home.”
Louis hugged me.
I had threatened to duct tape my mother to a wheel chair and drag it through the snow if she didn’t come willingly. She responded by spraying me in the face with juice through a straw and called me a damn idiot. “I’ve taken care of too many in their last days: my grandparents, my parents, and your father. I won’t have that for you. I’m old and that’s not your fault. Go live your life. Come visit, Skype, and play online with me. If I’m lucky I’ll get to kiss my grand-baby,” my mother had told me.
I blew my nose and Louis helped me into my coat. My mother is everywhere I look from the big basket where we threw our shoes, to the store-bought carrots standing fresh and tall in the sand-filled window box in the kitchen, to the curtain-less windows (Why the hell do I want to dress the house and make more laundry? You know how I feel about laundry).
“Hey.” Louis rubbed my arms.
My breaths felt heavy and my head sagged from the weight of all the logic seeping through. “The nurse says she’s had a hard week, but today is a good day. The new medicine is working better.” My hands smoothed over the roundness under my coat. “If she tries to give me that necklace again, I’m going to snarf a jumbo bag of Doritos and… breathe in her face.”
“Didn’t you say she thought Doritos smelled like dirty feet?”
I grin. “Yeah.”
“And if she gets really sassy with me, I’ll put What’s Up Pussycat as her ringtone and lock it.”
Louis tied my scarf around my neck. “Let me come with you.”
“I can handle it.”
“I know you can.” He smiled sideways and lead me out. “I just want to see your Mom’s counterattack. I bet you ten bucks she crushes your chemical warfare.”
The cold stung my nostrils and burned my ears.
Please, Mom, not today; I’m not ready.
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