There are lovely little lilies lined around the pond. Peaceful, I sit and eat my lunch, sunken into the bench. The sun shines so softly on my skin, perhaps I hear Robin’s song? Do you see that over there? There! Across the water, there! Tiny little children playing in a sandbox, the picture of innocence and sweetness and youth. The one with red hair is building a castle, giggling as she tosses handfuls of sand into the bucket. Shush, Listen closely. You can hear their parents; they chastise them because they are covered in dirt and sand. Her fiery red curls are covered in the gritty sprinkles from a moment when childhood play nullified reason and foresight. Her giggling ceases as her mother comes stomping over. I slow my chewing as I watch her frantically scoop up the child and shake her; the earthly grit becomes even more entangled. Tears well up in the small one’s eyes as her mother squeaks out exasperated whines. I see then, my own mother, screaming screeching, damned! I remember my small hands carrying a huge bucket full to the brim of sand that I collected from down at the river.
“Look, Mama! Look, I made a castle!” I squeaked. Rubbish, she called it.
“Get that dirt the hell off of my porch. It’s filthy! Always making messes like my life isn’t putrid enough,” she growled.
I could not clean it up fast enough before she kicked it into my face and I cried and cried and scooped up the tiny grains of innocence and watched them slip through my fingers. I bite my sandwich and grind my teeth, and I am burdened by the toughness of the meat; I grind and gnaw and tear. Oh, Mother, who cursed me in the mirror, for my hair was too frizzy, and I should really hide my ears. My skirt is too short, my sweater is too prudish, how could I be so naive to think that anyone would ever love me? Who is that boy that walked me home? He just wants me because he thinks I’m easy. No one would ever really want me.
Now this child across the pond, the mother grabs her wrist and pulls her crying spawn away and I chew faster still. The child pulls and screams, lunging at her architectural masterpiece left unfinished by its artist. The end is inevitable: the mother extinguishes her flames. I look down at my lunch and tense. Two weeks before my 18th birthday we went out shopping I showed you beautiful glass orange that sat in the window; I told you that the way the rays shone through the vibrate orange crystal made me smile and you told me to forget about it and put it back except I didn’t put it back, I dropped it and the store clerk insisted that we paid no matter how much I pleaded. Oh, Mother, who dragged me down the street, stumbling over my feet and stifling tiny yelps; you threw me in the cellar to sit in pestilential hell. Damn!
I sat in the cellar for so long, mother, and I cried and screamed until I didn’t have a voice left in me. I said I was sorry. I didn’t mean it; I promise I didn’t mean it. It was an accident. When I finally resigned my protests, I sat in that cellar so I could feel how you felt when you gave birth to your tiny little burden, your ruiner, your prison. When I feebly squeaked up the courage to ask for water to replace the fountains that I expended in my distress, you tossed in two dog dishes: one with yellowing water and the other with scraps of meat barely holding on to the title of “edible.”
“My misery for yours,” you barked. “You will learn to not be insufferable.” Even as I hesitated to touch the miserable sustenance to my lips you chastised through the door, “Waste not, want not!”
Your words consumed me.
Damn you, Mother! Two weeks I sat in that hell! Two weeks until finally, you let me out because my time as your burden was finished. I was not your child anymore. I was grown and I needed to get the hell out. I was consumed by my misery, the same misery that consumed you.
Oh, mother, how I craved my revenge. I grind my teeth and snap bites at my sandwich as I feel the corners of my mouth begin to curl. You invited me home again last night, and I thought to myself that maybe you missed me and finally realized. I was wrong. You lie in bed cursing at me that I ruined your life. I ruined it. You lie there sickly with laboring breath and yet I could still hear the growl. I decided it was time that I make my amends and end your misery; it was time I swallowed my misery once and for all. How my laughter filled the room as I pressed a pillow into your face, and finally, the growling ceased; I had never seen you look so peaceful. In all of my memories of your face, not a single one has something this close to a smile.
I grabbed the meat cleaver from the kitchen and finished the job, Well Done. Don’t worry, Mama, I cleaned up the filth; waste not, want not! Then I prepared my lunch, giddy for how I have longed for Fresh Meat. Perhaps this mother across the pond will join me for tomorrow’s lunch.
I (Alijah Hill) am a first year in Medill studying Journalism, but I have always enjoyed creative writing. Lunch is short story that I have written that is completely fictional. Entirely fiction. I can not stress enough that this is fiction and not based on real life events. Enjoy!