Mother has no pride. I loathe her for it.
Dad makes a cup of coffee he doesn’t want, moves between the sink and stove, kettle in hand, as if she isn’t there. He sidesteps, he speaks, only when she stands in his path. “You left me," he says. "Remember?”
“I was wrong.” She tugs his sleeve. He’s too quick, his shirt slips from her fingers. She clutches air, drops to her knees. The vibration travels up my legs and spine, tingles reach the top of my head. She trails him. Knee-walking. Across the coarse carpet. Her skin will turn raw.
Dad pulls out a drawer, grabs a teaspoon, opens the jar of coffee. His eyes dart to mine. His smile is bare, a bed in need of linens. “Perhaps you should leave, kiddo.”
The kettle sings. I take his cup. Instant grinds stirred with granulated sugar, tip of my nose over the rim, the aroma strong and familiar. Like Dad.
Mother’s face is a mess. Sobs, snot, spit. She lunges, clutches his pant legs, a pair of flags caught in the wind. She should fall. He holds her up simply by being there. White fingers penetrate the cloth, slide, wrap around his wrists.
He shakes her loose, brushes her touch from his skin like dirt. “No.”
He walks away. I follow.
The kettle on the stove still sings. The woman on her knees still sobs.
Mother has no pride.
Sherry Isaac has published several pieces in Quick Brown Fox. You can read her most recent piece here. She’s also been published in The New Mystery Reader and in Canadian Voices, Volume One. Her short story, “The Forgetting,” placed first in the Alice Munro Contest in 2009.
Sherry's Her first short story collection, Storyteller, will be released Monday, August 29 – and you're invited to the book launch at Prana Cafe, 2130 Queen St E, Toronto, 7 – 9 p.m. More here.
See Brian Henry's schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Georgetown, Oakville, Burlington, St. Catharines, Hamilton, Kitchener, Guelph, Woodstock, London, Orangeville, Barrie, Gravenhurst, Sudbury, Muskoka, Peel, Halton, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.