portion of the artwork for Misti Rainwater-Lites' fiction

Misti Rainwater-Lites

My husband walked into my bedroom. He was home from work. I was on the computer seeking proof of my existence.

“Our son is in the hallway strangling himself with the vacuum cleaner cord,” my husband informed me.

“Oh, fuck,” I muttered. I rushed into the hallway to see my three-year-old son standing in front of the full-length mirror with the vacuum cleaner cord wrapped around his neck several times. My husband appeared and said, “Let’s get you out of this, buddy.” He untangled the boy and I leaned against the wall.

I keep failing as a mother. There was the time my son fell down a flight of stairs when he was a year old. He wasn’t hurt. I was shaken. I resolved to track his moves more closely.

Then there was the time I walked into his nursery to find him naked in his crib eating his own shit. I got on the computer and researched the harmful effect of eating shit. I was relieved to discover that eating your own shit will not kill you.

I don’t even want to talk about what it was like when I returned home after spending a week in San Francisco. I had lived the life I had always wanted, hanging out with literate friends, drinking vodka gimlets at night and coffee in the morning, walking the city streets, feeling absolutely myself and absolutely free. Upon my return I would not leave my room. One night my husband insisted that I go to our son and soothe him to sleep. He was crying out for me. I got in bed with my son and he clung to me.

I was too numb to cry. I thought about sitting in welfare offices, waiting for my name to be called, the stares of pretty teenage cashiers when I handed them my plastic food stamps card and WIC vouchers. I held my son and willed him to fall asleep so that I could return to my room and my dreams. In my dreams I am never a mother. Nobody needs me.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 32 | Spring 2011