The edge of madness
That was the first crack on her ivory mask. All I need now is to keep hammering in the same spot. If the crack grows large enough, it will tear her apart and expose what she really is. After the little incident, she tries to act natural. But my sister is afraid to even look at her, no matter how hard mother tries to apologize.
“Look, honey, I’m sorry for yesterday,” mother said during dinner as she tried to take the girl’s hand. But my little sister pulled it away and came to where I was sitting, so I lifted her up and sat her in my knees. Mother again tried to speak, but the boys were being very loud, shouting about who was better at kicking a ball. Their discussion turned into a feud where food was catapulted across the table.
Since she changed, mother had let them get away with anything and merely smiled when they were playing. “Come on, mommy isn’t like that anymore, I was just in a bad humor,” mother says softly. A volley of cereal strikes her face. The boys continue laughing, but her face is pale. I pull my chair back fearing the backlash, and cover my sister with my arms.
Everyone in the table watches her in silence. She seethes with rage, but when she’s about to explode on them, instead manages to cool down and breathe. We finish our breakfast in silence and leave for school. Mother calls “goodbye!” from the table, but we keep heading forward. As I walk, I wonder if I’m doing enough to break her. She seems to be holding up, keeping her composure, but it can’t last forever.
“Is mommy ok?” my little sister asks worriedly as we walk to school. “Well… not exactly. Your mommy has issues,” I explain. “What issues? Can I help her?” she asks. I find her so… genuine. “No, only professionals can…” I sigh. She doesn’t fully understand, but it’s ok, because she sees a dog and runs to hug it calling out “Doggie!”
When we return home, mother is cooking dinner, the kids’ favorites. During the next week, she takes them to shops, movies, and buys them presents. That makes the boys become more and more obnoxious and spoiled. She becomes the world’s coolest mom for a week, until a letter comes in. No stamps, no addresses. Just a white envelope with a single picture inside.
I don’t see mother’s reaction, only the aftermath. She storms into my room while I’m doing my homework and drags me out by the hair through the hall. I scream in pain and try to fight it, but I’m no match for her. Finally we reach the main door, and she puts the picture in front of me, while still holding my hair.
“Please, stop!” I beg, crying. “No, look at it! It was you, right? This was you!” she screams frantically. I try to look away, but she only hurts me more, so I look at the picture. There are two female plastic toys by a car. They are hunching over another toy that is covered in red paint and facing the floor.
“This won’t work, you know!” she yells. “It wasn’t me, I swear, please, you …” but she slaps me. “C-word! What do you want, money!? Is that it? You want f-wording jewelry? I tried to be your friend, I tried to make up, but no, miss moral high ground is too good for me. Well, f-word you!” She strikes me again, this time hitting me with a ring that scratches my face.
Once again she drags me through the halls into my room, leaves me against the bed, makes the picture into a ball and throws it at me. But what is worst of all, what I cannot stand and makes me hate her deeply, is that she spits on me before slamming the door violently.
But as I lie there, in silence and darkness, I smile, even laugh. I knew she was in there.