My Pet Store Mother

From Thoughts from Botswana by Lauri Kubuitsile Sun Feb 3 2013, 23:00:00

It was six flights up to the apartment that smelled of forgotten dirty laundry in corners of closets that were never opened. Most of those dragging days in the summer of my eighth year the apartment rang with my mother's voice. She bellowed out creative insults against the anger that echoed back and forth in her head, while all I yearned for was to be away from the people-smelling city, and home to the fields and forests I was used to.

"You drunk bastard!" she'd shout at her father. Slumped on the sofa, he watched the Baltimore Orioles on a staticky, portable black and white. His bald head showed red in protest against the temperature in the tight apartment. He wore an over stretched dirty vest that hung loosely on his body covered with a fine, white fur. He rarely responded to his daughter, who had been confirmed crazy by the doctors who examined her inside and out after her first attempt at ending her life. He hardly noticed me.

I was spending the summer with this stranger called my mother, so that my father could move his new wife into our house. My mother, between her required fights with her father, tried her best. I breakfasted on ice cream and had trips to concrete covered playgrounds with red plastic ponies that bounced back and forth on giant springs, and I feigned gratitude but wished myself anywhere but there.

I cried most nights into the grey pillowcase in the tiny room in which my mother slept. I cried as the concrete of the city suffocated me. The concrete stairwell leading down to the patch of concrete fenced with a gate opening onto the concrete back alley where I spent most days watching the sinewy street cats dig through the rubbish bins. Any life in the lifelessness around me was welcome.

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