On 17th birthdays and glimpses of the adult

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Image by Ed Schipul/Flickr

So, here I am very early on Godzilla’s 17th birthday, resting on the corner of Testosterone Lane and Horsepower Road. Having two teen boys in the house means a lot of muscle flexing, boundary pushing, and territory marking. They wake with teasing exchanges that rapidly morph into the rat-tat-tat of suddenly flared tempers. And before long, like two elephant seals, they’re bumping and jostling each other over the most trivial of things. Left to their own devices, I’m sure they’d find a way to argue over two flies climbing up the wall.

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The Great Beyond

“One night the moon came galloping by

On a big horse right across the night sky

One night the moon came galloping by

Called all the dreamers to come for a ride”*

Blackness.  Silence.  Robbie scrunches further under his blankets, shores up the external pillow walls, and slaps his hands over his ears.  He feels his stomach coiling in anxiety, sharp pains stretching out from its twisted centre.  His ears, hot and sore from their fleshy earmuffs, still ring from the battle.  Behind the door, an inferno of alcohol-fuelled rage and discontent contort his parents into vitriol spewing demons that pitch and claw at each other, shrieking their hatred, their unhappiness.  Outside the window lies the Great Beyond.

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Redemption Missed

The old woman smacks her now toothless gums. It is her anniversary today. Forty years have elapsed since that fateful day when she left her family, left all she had known, for the man she loved. He had been kind to her, and loved her in his way. He had been patient with her, holding her as she burst into wailing, keening tears, her whole body quaking, as they made love.

Was it only ten years ago that he thoughtlessly died, leaving her childless and alone?

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Chocolate Baby

Ten perfect fingers, ten perfect toes, two liquid pools of ink black eyes, and one tiny peaked nose. I do the count mentally, checking off the list in my head.

The pregnancy had been long, arduous, and worrisome. Early cramping and later spotting blood sent everyone around me into a panic. My mother had been the first card to fall. Eyebrows knitting, hands wringing, she had sat me down and concern-voiced her fears. Then came my mother-in-law. Her usual chipper facade exchanged for this new haggard, white-haired model.

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Running Behind Elephants

When you have got an elephant by the hind legs and he is trying to run away, it’s best to let him run.

~ Abraham Lincoln

A strange thing happens between mothers and sons in the teen years. The chubby fingers of childhood loose their grip, the adoring eyes fall less often on you, the gifts of rocks and sticks and feathers become fewer. A distance insinuates itself between you.

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Phoenix

The removalists scour Mama’s house, wiping away any traces of her. It has taken me the better part of the day to pack the picked over bones of her home, and I have left her bedroom till last.

This is the most difficult room, the one in which she disappeared so frequently into her own world, and then eventually disappeared into the darkness of her illness. There are too many memories here.

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