What I Have Coming To Me

by Maddy Raskulinecz October 22, 2018

My lips are so bitten up it’s like my mouth just chewed its way out of my face. I think my mother is about to tell me about the divorce between her and my father. Guess my age, with my parents getting divorced. You’re wrong, add ten years. I feel like I’m in a nightmare; in fact I am living my own repeating nightmare. They used to reassure me merely by laughing. Ten years after that they reassured me more soberly: “No, I don’t think that’s very likely.” Ten years after that, it is happening. I thought I could ward it off by worrying about it all the time, but I forgot that’s also a way to invite something.

My mother is served her fennel salad. That licorice smell, of course my father’s favorite. Do not say it, I silently command. It works, she begins to choke instead.

You think that no matter your personality problems, instinct will make you quick and correct when it’s called for. But instead I sit and look at my bluing mother, and say aloud, “I don’t know what to do.”

“Do the Heimlich,” someone says, urgent and pissed off, a heckle.

I go around. I wrap my arms around her and heave. Her body gives. She isn’t young. But it’s correct form to hurt her.

Is this ironically very like a birth? Will we, one day, have to laugh? I force and force, and force it out, what I have been coaxing for decades. Then there’s silence, and a clean sharp smell, hollowed out and vegetal—like the pumpkin, still taut, that you’re just getting ready to carve the grin into.

About the Author:

Maddy Raskulinecz lives in San Francisco, CA. Her fiction has appeared in Zyzzyva, Guernica, 3:AM, DIAGRAM, and elsewhere, and has been included in Wigleaf's Top 50 (Very) Short Fictions.