Thursday, April 04, 2013

Short Story - Hands

From writing prompt:

10-minute free write - use the following words: memory, mother, hands, avocado green, and sharp.

Here's my attempt:

My earliest memory of my mother is the scars on the back of her hands. They crisscrossed like braided rivers all the way to her wrists, some raw and pink, some dulled to the colour of plum. They ran in all directions in choppy slashes, sudden and petty, the mire of tender skin tissues like a monstrous art. I never dared to ask about them, and she never spoke about them, just regarded them – even the fresh ones – like they were part of her anatomy.

I remember the balm my father used to apply – or tried to, at least – on those fresh wounds. It was avocado green, runny and smelled like yoghurt left past its expiration date in the fridge. He would chase after her with the putrid tub of balm, his voice laced with exasperation, the way you would coax a child to bed. My mother would end up locking herself in the bathroom for hours, the sounds of her sobs hacking at the door. Eliza and Dad would wait outside, and finally they would send me to talk to her.

I was the only one who could always bring my mother out. Not my father, who applied balm on her wounds and tucked her to bed; not my sister, who took her hand in both of hers and led her to somewhere quieter so she would stop fixating on the possibility of drowning in noise, in the sea of people, in heat, in regret, in memories. Me. Always, she wanted just me.

Me, who did nothing because there was nothing I dared to do, nothing I could do. Me, who hid behind walls when she called for me, because I was afraid of her, even though a part of me wanted to run into her arms. Me, who struggled a little when she eventually pulled me towards her because her nails were too sharp and dug a little too hard into my skin.

Later, she would let me run my fingers over her old scars as she stroked my hair and rocked me back and forth on the bathroom floor. My fingers would shake a little at first, but later those ridges of flesh became a map of sorts, one that led me back to my mother, and my mother back to the world.

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