Dissonant Family

by Laura Bernas

I don’t like holidays. Under such circumstances, normally, one would enjoy the light snowfall and rush of cool wind behind them, as they shut the rumbling car door. For me, I’ve never been so keen on celebrating. But today, things have changed.

Unbeknownst to me, my mother has decided to come home from the Ward early this Christmas. It is my misfortune to be her care taker-I feed her and, generally pretend, to tolerate her presence. I’m recalling her intense love for crushed candied yams…You see, Mother hasn’t had teeth since 2007, and it is my duty to mash up the yellow masses to fit in between her raw gums; by now her motor functions have diminished to an infrequent flick of the wrist and she can barely lift a spoon. It’s such a hardship for me-plagued with chronic conjunctivitis, no matter how hard I try-I simply cannot detest the sight of her. I can’t help but think of her mashing her mouth away on yellowed potato, while blinking flaky crust from her eyes, and feeling a swell of warm gooiness in my tummy. Oh God…I feel queasy…

As I wait for the second hand to come to 7pm, I head out to the front porch to catch one last breath of fresh air. There’s always a nice breeze there. You can see the antiquated gothic style homes for miles. As a kid I always liked thinking about all the strange inhabitants living in those homes. I guess I’m one of the strangers now…

Perched on the stair banister I await Mother’s ill-fated arrival.

Around the corner from one of the most desecrated of the homes, an ant of a woman moves at a snail’s pace down the street, riding a rusty electric wheelchair, just close enough for me to hear a slight jingle coming from her coat; as if she were dragging along with her a cascade of sea shells, tangled in her shawl’s mossy color. I can’t seem to distinguish the woman’s face beneath a bird’s nest of lopsided hair, but she begins to appear familiar the closer she gets to my porch.

I watch the woman start at the corner, as if she suddenly realized she was going in the completely wrong direction. But, instead of turning back around, the woman turned abruptly towards my house. In her approach, the jingling of the woman’s coat soon made itself out to be a large collection of spare teeth, an assortment of healthy looking gums in fact, cradled in the woman’s arthritic hands, and spilling out of the pockets of her coat, leaving a morose trail of people parts behind her.

She came upon my house, and swiveling her chair so we could be perfectly face-to-face, the woman stopped at the edge of my carefully manicured lawn. She looked up at me. Then, with a flick of the wrist, she flung a pair of mangled jaws to my feet. It was mama-home from the ward!

Laura is a freelance writer hailing from Buffalo, NY. Having lived in places such as Russia, Africa, and Alaska, she loves truly original short fiction, poetry, and pretty much anything to do with fantasy and adventure in foreign lands. Hoping to one day soon publish her first novel, Laura spends her time not writing making independent films, acting & singing in theater, and enjoying all the delicious restaurants NYC has to offer. You can contact her for any and all of your writing needs at laura.bernas13@gmail.com and on Instagram

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