You forget the incidentals of pain on purpose. You forget the details out of self-defense. Even in writing the mind works hard to eviscerate the scent of rotting tomatoes and mucous-bitter vodka sauce, the decaying lettuce latent in the crevices of your mouth and only smelled from the back of the nose, only tasted with the weight of your mother’s exhausted tears. “No, it’s not simple! It’s not just something I could do later. I try and try to make everything go smoothly and then, when I ask a question you tell me to go away – I have had it. I HAVE HAD IT!” And you can see the dust motes shift as she turns in the doorway, the frame shrinking, extending, distant, a tunnel.  You shrink, too, internally, a piece of your chest collapsing under the truth.  The whole room moves as your stomach twists and the sour liquid rises in your throat behind the waves of heat on your face and the small pins in your fingers and groin, and your body feels more shame than your mind in its unconscious self-flagellation.

And even now I say “you” to distance myself from the feeling. But it was my mother, and my tongue told her to go away, and the taste still lingers in my mouth.

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