"In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present."-Francis Bacon
My first memories of my mother are hazy and fleeting, just like she is. If I try hard enough, I can maybe scrounge up faint memories of swaying skirts and glittering decanters sparkling in pure white light. My sweet giggles floating up and about in the air, my mother's scent lingering in the air. Her perfume was sweet and mysterious, and always hung back in a room long after she was gone. If I think hard enough, I'm sure I could find memories of her tinkling laughter as I tried on her fashionable clothes, piece by piece. Her canary yellow coat drenching my petite, little girl frame and her flamboyant peacock hat in all its multicolored glory.
"The saddest thing in the world, is loving someone who used to love you."-Anonymous
My mother never really understood me. I was eight when I told her I wanted to be a lawyer for the first time. She was dumbstruck for a brief moment, and then brushed it off with a sparkling laugh.
"You innocent child," she said, patting my head condescendingly, "You'll learn eventually."
"Perfume: any smell that is used to drown a worse one." –Elbert Hubbard
I think I heard that quote for the first time when I was in the sixth grade. Almost instantly, I thought of my mother. Her scent always did linger, musky and mystifying.
My mother would stumble into my room at two in the morning, always tipsy with another drunken man whispering naughty things in her ear while my father slept peacefully. She came because she wanted to make sure that I was asleep, unaware of her infidelity. But I always knew, because I could always smell her scent. It was always there, haunting me.
"Memory is a way of holding on to the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose." -Kevin Arnold
The first clear memory I have of my mother is filled with dizzying images of gauzy dresses, ringing laughter, and bright red lipstick. It was one in a procession of countless dinner parties at our extravagantly splendid home. Bubbly champagne, glittery dresses and crisp, tailored suits invaded my sight wherever I turned, and as a two year old, I was entranced by all the resplendent beauty. My mother looked especially beautiful that night. With her hair swept back in a fashionable low chignon, form fitting blood red v-neck gown that matched her red lipstick, and gorgeous pearls, she looked like the epitome of glamour. I think that's how I'm always going to think of her. Beautiful, but untouchable. Lovable, but unable to love back.
"A mighty pain to love it is/ And 'tis a pain that pain to miss/ But of all pains, the greatest pain/ It is to love, but love in vain." -Abraham Cowley
The love I had for my mother was indescribable. Every bit of me yearned for her love and support. It was so gripping; it caused such a frenzy inside me, at moments I was overtaken by her beauty and struck quiet. I just wanted her to love me back.
"For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else." –Ralph Waldo Emerson
When I was 12 years old, I was cast in my first school play as one of the six leads. It was a silly Halloween play that involved tons of dryly choreographed routines and fun songs. I was cast as the Mummy and got my very own solo song, my very own two pages worth of music. For weeks, I sung in my room, practicing over and over again until it was perfect. I wanted mom to be proud of me, proud of her daughter.
The day of the play I spent 15 minutes wrapping myself up in big cotton sheets and toilet paper, excitement bubbling up inside of me. I couldn't wait to show my mother what I could do. As I got on stage, I saw my proud father sitting in the crowd, beaming with a video camera in hand. I continued to scan the crowd for my mother, thinking, praying, that maybe she got separated from my father in the crowd. I sang my solo, eyes on the auditorium doors.
She never came.
"Sometimes it's the smallest decisions that can change your life forever." –Keri Russell
It all ended in a matter of minutes. It was a hot, sticky night; one of those humid summer nights when all I wanted to do was pour ice down my shirt. It was also the eve of my birthday. I was sitting at my window seat, looking out at the beautiful dancing stars, wishing and praying that my mother would come home before dawn. I didn't want to hear another argument between my parents on my birthday. I just wanted us all to be happy, if only for one day.
Time passed and when I looked at the clock hanging on my wall, I realized that it was two am. A shiver went up my spine as I heard the heavy footsteps and drunken giggling in the hallway. Mom was home.
As per tradition, she opened my door, letting yellow light trickle into my room. I saw her faintly bloodshot eyes roam my bed and finally reach me on the bench. We locked eyes, neither of us able to look away. I think it was the first time I actually saw my mother for who she really was, not who I thought she was. From the dim light of the hallway, I could see her smudged makeup and frizzy hair sticking up in all directions, her dress haphazardly hung on her sallow body. No longer was she the excruciatingly gorgeous socialite, with her flowy skirts and shiny earrings. She wasn't perfect, and she wasn't beautiful.
In that moment, something cracked inside of me. She wasn't my mother. Not to me. Not any longer. She had hurt me too many times before, and I finally had to acknowledge that she would keep doing it. I was done.
I heard a soft thud from another room, and the spell was broken. It was as if my mother could feel the change in the atmosphere between us.
"Annalisse..." she tried, her eyes pleading, her voice slightly slurred. "Just listen to me." She outstretched her left hand, glittering with its diamonds, and for a moment, I was almost tempted to go and take it and join her. I closed my eyes, willing myself to stay strong.
"No. Go to sleep mom…just go to sleep. Leave," I said softly, turning my head away from her to look back out the window. She was still standing there in the doorway, surprised even through her drunken stupor. It was over.
We stayed like that for a few minutes, me looking out the window and Mom standing in my doorway, the light from the hallway shining on her. I dug my nails into my palm, knowing that if I turned around I would give in once again. She left just as my hands began to bleed, the light slowly receding with her.
"One day you'll miss me like I missed you. One day you'll cry for me like I cried for you, and one day you'll love me and I won't love you."-Anonymous
A/N: I wrote this short story for my English class, and I'm actually really happy with it. The only guidelines were that it had to be about the topic of forgiveness and have some dialog (there was a rubric, but the rest of it was useless), and I wanted to do something different from how I normally write. It was supposed to be more abstract, but i really liked the way the quotes helped the story.
Anyway, please tell me what you think! I would love feedback...this is my baby, no doubt. I adore this ending, unlike the endings of most of my other stories.
Also, I'm leaving for Florida later, so all those people I owe a PM to (Katie!! Shivani!!!), I will DEFINITELY message you when I get back.
2/28/09: My English teacher told me yesterday that she loved it! She said that it was extremely good stylistically and it was a very unique piece. Yay! :)