In an effort to make contraception more effective, the government begins using bears. No one looks away from a bear, say officials. They’re right. No one can take their eyes off the bears; nothing is learned about contraception. Birth rates skyrocket. In an effort to […]
Issue: Writing You Wouldn't Show Your Mother (August 2015)
Tuesday night presses its back against the windows,
the car slides along the ridges of its slick spine.
She looks small in the driver’s seat.
She thinks she’s pregnant.
Last night I gave head in a field.
She tells me she’s cold.
She doesn’t turn the heat on.
Then there are deer parts everywhere: tendon,
hoof, glassy brown eye reflecting the left headlight.
I open the window to let the sound out.
We drive home.
Lake Elkhorn was my childhood stomping ground.
The trail along the lake is seeping with invaluable memories with my mom.
It’s where my pathological fear of geese was born.
Even after I threw them every slice of bread I had to my name,
they continued to track me until they bit my bottom,
ripping off my diaper with their razor-sharp beaks in front of the whole damn park.
My mom consoled me with the implication that I threatened the mother goose,
and she was just trying to protect her babies,
but I couldn’t yet fathom that kind of tenaciously protective love.
It’s where I desperately tried to walk around the entire lake by myself;
to my stubby toddler legs, those two miles were a year-long expedition.
I was forced to make a martyr of my independence
in favor of the restful, but humiliating, drive back to the car in a pink stroller with a Hello Kitty safety belt.
For the first time, I relinquished my childish pride to my mom’s better judgement.
It’s where I saw a snake for the first time when I was three;
I thought it was an alien.
It was the single most fascinating thing I had ever seen.
Of course, I bolted after it.
The natural response to seeing a slithering, scaly cord with fangs is to pet it, right?
My mom snatched me up by my shirt before I could touch it.
Under her breath, she grumbled, “Who the hell is petrified of geese but cries over losing a damn snake?”
It’s where I adopted my first pet:
an insignificant earthworm that my mother told me to dig up for fishing bait;
I refused to sacrifice him to her fish gods.
I named him Fuzzy—
even as a child I was a sarcastic asshole.
Despite my promise to love him for the rest of my life,
he died tragically that day.
I walked around with him on my shoulder for so long
he fried crispy under the sun.
I cried for twenty minutes.
My first glimpse of loss; my mom dug up another worm for me.
She told me it was Fluffy’s brother,
and, despite the unlikelihood of their relation,
I bought it.
My grief subsided, and I loved Fluffy II just as much.
He suffered the same tragic end as Fluffy I,
leading to a cycle of Fluffies that lasted all day.
Before we left, she had pulled Fluffy’s fucking third cousin twice removed out of the ground.
It’s where my mom had to drag me away from infographic signs in front of the trees that display their name in Latin,
what kinds of different creatures lived all the way up there
brushing the sky with their tails and wings.
Who knew all trees weren’t the same to a squirrel or a bird?
They all looked the same to me
until my mom finally believed me when I told her I seriously needed glasses
in the seventh grade.
It’s where I learned to love nature and science.
I could see and touch everything I’d read about in books.
Well, I could touch everything except for that snake.
I had to accept the fact he was the one that got away.
It’s where I begged my mom to take me late at night when I was in the fifth grade
because we were learning about space and Earth science in school.
After relentless pleading, she drove me there
and I walked for hours with my face tilted straight up at the sky,
staring at the stars and the moon.
She laughed at me because I ran into a tree when I wasn’t paying attention.
It’s where we went with our dog to have picnics.
Every time we ended up just eating in the car;
I was so concerned with the risk of sitting in dog, goose, or god-knows-what-else shit.
It’s where I still go today when I want to unwind and feel safe—
despite the countless drug deals by park benches after dark.
It’s where I asked my boyfriend to take me on our first date
and where I still couldn’t stop staring at the sky.
I was trying to find a constellation to impress him with my vast knowledge of the universe.
Instead, I ran into a tree again.
Old habits die hard.
It’s where I had sex on the wooden bridge over the creek by the little waterfall.
It was three in the morning on a Tuesday,
we had to stop halfway because we saw two men leering behind a tree and watching us.
They shadowed us back to my car,
and I thought I was going to die.
But it was worth it.
I just wouldn’t surrender until I touched a snake at Lake Elkhorn—
that was close enough.