What I Have Coming To Me

by Maddy Raskulinecz Read author interview 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.