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Untitled by Mary Jo Javier - [250 words]
Unstable
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TITLE (EDIT)
Unstable
DESCRIPTION
A short story about domestic violence.
[1,108 words]
TITLE KEYWORD
Teenage
AUTHOR
Margaret Li
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sixteen years old and living in New York.
[December 2001]
AUTHOR'S E-MAIL ADDRESS
[email protected]
AUTHOR'S OTHER TITLES (1)
Blue (Short Stories) A noir telling of a psychiatric patient's perception of life... and death. [5,290 words]
Unstable
Margaret Li

It was in the middle of August, hot and uncomfortable with an "energy-saving" fan blowing on the ceiling. It didn't matter anyway; a pillow was crammed over my ears. Not hearing more than I had to. Sweat clung to me, the back of my legs sticking to the vinyl couch. I read once, people go insane at hot temperatures. Irrational. That most murders occurred at 92 degrees. I wanted to wash my hands, my face, take a sip of water. But it was raining glass in the other room.

Windows, empty Vodka bottles, it was always glass. I remembered one summer a few years ago, when the rain drenched the parched land, and I laughed in the empty fields. Me and the rain. The sound of thunder in the skies. It hadn't rained all summer, that year. Didn't matter, anyway, since we were always here, with the dusty ceiling fan and the smell of old, wooden houses, a box in the closet.

The house was patterned in a wallpaper of green flowers, green stems and green petals. I'd never seen a green flower. Some walls were yellow, cracks through the wallpaper. In our house, the only light was the blue screen of the t.v. "Like your mother's mind," my father would tell me sometimes. "It's dark and empty. She's unstable."

The green flowers were my mother's idea. My mother. She smelled of asthma inducing hairspray, a sickly sweet that could not be inhaled up close, like the ammonia in her hair dye. Her muted brown hair, a few gray strands, the thick makeup caking at the corner of her eyes. An exotic insect glaring in shimmery green and gold perched on her eyelids. She had a voice so that you couldn't hear her speak if she didn't want you to. She liked to keep a gun in every room. It made her feel safe, she said.

I never liked people with loud voices, hearty false laughs. Loud voices frightened me, even if they were only laughing, if they were just talking. Anger can be mistaken for many things. People laugh when they're angry. It was cruel, to use laughter that way.

I stared at the ceiling, imagining tiny shards of glass falling, piercing my body, sinking through the couch onto the floor. Rain...rain...go away...come again...another day. Again. It always came.

My mother walked in, blood on her hands.

"Honey?"

I was afraid to say yes, what is the matter? No one knew what was the matter.

"Why do the birds crow?" she asked in a tone that frightened me. Merely the calmness of it, the normality, how could she be so calm with blood running from her hands?

"Why?" She asked in a sharper tone. I don't know, I whispered. I don't know.

She hit me on the side of my head with the heel of her palm, brushing red onto the red in my hair. She gave a shuddered gasp, hands at her lips, as if realizing a horrible mistake.

"You're not my daughter."

The coldness of her words stunned me. She continued, nodding like a man given a sign from god, convinced. "No one in my family has red hair. Not a one. You're the devil's child! Some bitch's daughter."

Mama, how I wanted to cry. Her hair had been red. I knew. She dyed it that horrible muted brown. And now it was gray.

The rage made her eyes seem violet, glazed over by the beginnings of glaucoma. I remembered just a few days before, when we laughed together. Her serene face. Why didn't the moment last? Why wouldn't it last.

Her mouth opened in all shapes, spittle flying out of the corners. I couldn't hear her any longer. I ignored her, staring at her shaking fingers, the moving mouth, the curve of her calf, thinking all the while, this was my mother. My mother.

For all the birthdays, she always gave me a doll. I smiled with them, foreign in my hands, to make her happy. This year, she forgot it completely. Should I have played with them as if I were really still a child? I was never a child.

"Mama," I pleaded. She seemed to have stopped listening to me, as I have.

"Would you lose it all for me?" she screamed at me. "I lost it all for you."

What had I lost? I had nothing to begin with. I looked away from the panes of glass on the opposite wall, I didn't want to see myself. I was ashamed that I was looking for a way out.

In the other room, father was picking up the glass. The pieces. He turned on the tv louder, so he wouldn't have to hear us. Every room in our house had to be desecrated.

He tried to explain to me, but I already knew. My mother was like a bottle with boiling water, the fumes needed to be let out, and putting a stopper in it wouldn't get rid of the smoke. Like her feelings, a bottle. She kept them all inside. She was fine sometimes, but we knew it would start again.

I didn't sympathize with him. That wasn't my job.

Mother leaned closer to me. Her breath smelled of sherry.

"You know what I said to him," she said, gesturing blindly towards the other room. "'Sometimes I think you don't listen to me', I said." She laughed woozily. "He didn't even hear me."

I couldn't bear to see her this way. I wanted to turn away, but I felt like I was keeping her alive this way. Let her scar me with her anger, so I too, would know pain. Pain soon turns to nothing, without company. Mama. She never saw me weep.

"You heard them, didn't you?" She shakes me a little, rattling my shoulders. "You heard them talk. We're not a 'happy' family."

"We're not happy," I blurted out. "We're not," I added quietly.

"Maybe you're not happy," she snapped. "But that's life. What's the worse thing that could happen? You don't even know the worst thing."

I've asked myself many times. My parents could divorce. I could lose myself, inside, become a shell of nothingness, walking without words. "The worst..."

I never saw it happen.

I wondered if father heard at all, his music and his words and his television loud. He didn't want to hear anything. The middle of August, the overbearing heat creating frenzy in our blood. The last second, I thought of me in the fields, drenched in rain.

I was laughing.

It wasn't the worst thing at all. Not by a far shot.

 

READER'S REVIEWS (5)
DISCLAIMER: STORYMANIA DOES NOT PROVIDE AND IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR REVIEWS. ALL REVIEWS ARE PROVIDED BY NON-ASSOCIATED VISITORS, REGARDLESS OF THE WAY THEY CALL THEMSELVES.

"I just have to say that my name is a typo (obviously) and that I'm 14, so bah to you if you hate my story." -- Margaret Li, Purgatory,, In the Sky,, Above..
"Oh, c'mon... have a little confidence in yourself. We're around the same generation, anyway, and i know on a personal note exactly what this story is about. You're not a nerd, first of all, and I don't dislike your story. It was fabulously written, and I am beginning to think I look forward to your next story. You have a gift for the words, chica, so use them with pride. " -- Kimberly S. De Liz.
"Ms. Li -- I found your story extremely compelling and believe you have a strong talent for description. Making an imaginary moment real. I hope you continue writing and look forward to your next story. " -- E A Renner.
"Bravo. Well-written, I must say. Do have confidence, honey... I liked it a lot..." -- Alithium, Tucson, Arizona, USA.
"Keep on writing!" -- R. Bennett Okerstrom.

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COPYRIGHT NOTICE
© 2000 Margaret Li
STORYMANIA PUBLICATION DATE
September 2000
NUMBER OF TIMES TITLE VIEWED
1884
 

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