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Fear, bright and all encompassing, shrouded her. She looked
out from behind it and saw her mother's angry stare. She heard
the insults hurled at her in a steady flow of loathing. Shrunken
in a corner, she longed for the silence after the raging storm
but was terrified of what that quiet meant. If her mother
wasn't scolding angrily, she was showing Reb how much she
hated giving up high scold and her friends to raise a stupid
Reb waited, anticipating the swift change that would come
over her mother when her anger reached it's summit. Reb trembled
with sweet expectation of what was to come. She heard her
mother seething curses in her direction fast and hard and
then faster and harder. Her mother's climax came suddenly
as she stopped screaming.
Her face burned into Reb's memory, so familiar and yet so
strangely different every time she saw it. Which was often
lately. She thought about the faces of the mothers of her
classmates from junior high school. She was lost in a reverie,
knowing that their faces must sometimes look like her mother's
The fist came then, sure and swift as expected but Reb was
too distracted to dodge. It hit its mark strongly and sealed
The hatred poured through he nails as they ripped at live
flesh. The arms had anger-strength when they lifted the ball
of human dung from the corner and slammed it against the far
wall. The picture frame softened the impact and in appreciation,
the flesh provided a new home for the slivers of broken glass
and chunks of twisted aluminum. The body met the putrid mass
before it could shrink to the floor again. The first pounded,
the feet kicked, the arms threw and the hand slapped for twenty
solid, hard, angry minutes before the anger subsided enough
for the body to give a last kick and leave the room, vindicated.
Reb's mother went into the bathroom and took a shower, then
prepared for another afternoon shift at the factory. Once
outside of the shabby, whitewashed bungalow, she saw the liquor
bottles that had accumulated near the garbage can throughout
the week. Instead of placing them in the trash, she threw
rocks at them until there was a glittering pile of broken
glass. The sound that prevailed was her sigh at the sound
the shattering bottles. She couldn't even afford Wild Turkey
nowadays, with all the bills from that rancid waste of space
she had left broken, covered in shiny bruises and glass shards
on the living room floor.
Life was ironic that way.
She walked down the drive onto the dirt road to walk to the
corner, where a flash of thigh might earn her a ride to work.
The dung waited in unconsciousness for the body to leave.
Reb tried to open her eyes but they were covered with microscopic
glass shavings and far to swollen to be attractive. The body
thought she was ugly. Maybe it was right. She couldn't think
of the thing that hurt her so badly as her mother. Her mother
never touched her, only the faceless, formless body.
She couldn't move her head. She suspected she had been out
cold for a good hour and probably had a crick in her neck.
She stood up blindly. She was very careful not to touch herself
of the wall lest she leave bloodstains on the greasy wallpaper.
She shuffled her way to the bathroom.
Reb sat gingerly on the toilet seat. She slowly, meticulously
picked the glass shavings off her eyes, cutting her fingers
in the process. She longed to walk down the lane to Miss Anna's
house. The old woman would surely know how to remove the glass
best. But she just couldn't bear it, depending and telling
and being touched.
She relieved her eyes of their bloating with one of her mother's
steaks from the freezer. She rested her head against the tub
and rested for a few minutes. When she could see again, she
laid the meat carefully aside and picked the visible glass
and metal chips from her skin. She carefully put them in a
paper grocery bag. The bag was filled and folded and set aside
for later. Reb bathed the blood away with peroxide and cotton
balls, not even flinching from the sting.
Uncle John called her Reb, short for rebel, Rogue but she
was not strong enough to prevent this. She felt ashamed of
herself for goading her mother into such behavior. Such hatred.
She bandaged the cuts and rubbed the bruises with alcohol.
She slipped into a warm tub filled with cheap dime store bubbles,
bought with her birthday money. She only afforded herself
a half-hour to soak but it soothed the aches and contusions.
She stepped out of the tub, got a fine toothed comb and stood
naked, aside from her tissue-paper thin, thigh length robe,
before the bathroom mirror to comb the glass from her hair,
gently picking it out of her scalp. She hoped she had removed
it all but she had no more time to waste on herself.
Reb dressed in a baggy sweater and worn, faded, hand-me-down
jeans. She disposed of the paper bag in the trashcans outside,
carefully avoiding the mess of broken glass. She returned
to the shack and got the broom and mop. She cleaned the bathroom
to military specs and removed all traces of glass from the
floor of the living room lest her mother cut her foot. She
disposed of the glass and the rest of the picture frame in
Reb then walked down the dusty road to town and stopped into
the drugstore to pick up a replacement frame with the last
of her savings. She returned home and mounted it where the
other had been and cleaned the blood marks form the wall.
When she was satisfied that there were no traces left, she
washed her hands and retrieved the steak from the bathroom.
She prepared two meals, one steak with cute little baby carrots,
snap beans and mashed potatoes with gravy and a bottle of
her mother's not-so-secret secret wine. The wine was cheap,
the steak was on the small side but the second meal made the
first seem gourmet. She quickly ate her meal of a small pork
chop and soggy leftover broccoli.
Reb greeted her mother cheerfully when she returned home,
hoping to get back in her good graces. She hoped the body
would not hurt any more, that her mother would someday think
she was real and human enough to never touch her again.
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