One of my friends told me to get it out and edit it later. I'm not sure if this is finished. It was just stuff rattling in my head. It is the product of the notes I was taking the other day. It may need work, or it may be perfect. I have no idea. It is raw and unedited and is the result of too many bad parenting stories, personal experiences, and life viewed through the tainted lens of fiction.
I may open it up to other writers for expansion and interpretation.
She sat at the table, smoking an impossibly thin cigarette and talking on her cell phone.
“Whatever” she says in the usual annoyed tone.”I don’t really care. If he can’t have it fixed by 5pm I’m not paying him. I’m just NOT. Why should pay him for not living up to my expectations. JEEsus, it’s like I’m still married.” She paused, took a drag of her cigarette, exhales, and continues “God NO, not since he gave up visitation rights. We don’t talk. He doesn’t even call to check up on the children”
“Mommy,” the small voice from the couch called
“Not now Diana, Mommy’s on the phone” She took a deep drag and continued. “I don’t care. I know he’s a unemployed, but at least he could help out a little.
“Mommy” Diana called again.
‘I SAID... I’m on the phone. I’ll be there in a minute.”
“but Mommy. it’s a mergency. The baby…”
“Not now.” she barked
Diana took her little sister to the bathroom and cleaned the cut on her sister’s hand. She carefully applied the bandage. This wasn't anything new, at the age of 9, Diana had taken care of her little sister’s cuts and scrapes on several occasions. It happened mostly when they spent the weekend with their father, he wasn't particularly good at first aid, paying attention, or staying sober.
Diana didn't much like her life. Her sister ,Lily, sucked up all the attention in a room and her mother spent most of her time sucking away everything else. The days were mostly filled with Lily’s tantrums and whining and pretending to be sick, anything for a little sympathy. It never came easy. Mommy alternated between yelling at the continual string of workmen who had the chore of constantly tried to live up to unreasonable demands, her ex-husband, her overbearing mother ( apparently it's genetic)’ and finally Lily and Diana.
Sitting cross legged on the floor in front of the full length mirror, Diana pondered her struggle. Like most kids, she was in a battle for attention. When the only attention you know is verbal abuse, the whole thing is an exercise in absurdity.
This is the place she goes when her mother finishes with her yelling and finally sends her to the bedroom. This is where she sits when her sister is being rushed to the emergency room after the latest self injury designed to get the pity she has mistakenly identified as love.
Diana likes to watch the reflection in the mirror. She often wonders if she has a similar life. Is her baby sister a pain the ass, is her mother a chain smoker, does her life suck as a matter of course. Sometimes, when the house is quiet, she tries to touch her reflection. She sits there, her hand smudging the glass as she reaches out. She needs to be in contact with something.
“Diana,”. Her mother shouted. Mommy’s on the phone, bring me my cigarettes.”
The child took a deep breath, rubbed her hands together nervously, and went to the freezer to retrieve a pack of menthol 100’s.
Her mother was talking on the phone about this month's new carpeting.
“Mama.” Lily pleaded. “Look what I drew. Mama, look”. She dangled the page of childish hieroglyphics in front of her mother's face.
“Not now, baby. I'm on the phone.”
“Mama, look. It's a picture of me and you.”
“I said not now, this is an important call.” She continued into the phone. “ sometimes I don't know what the hell these kids want.”
Diana opened the pack of smokes the way her mother had taught her. Heaven forbid she would take the time to open the pack on her own. It would mean putting the phone down.
“Mama, look.” Lily said as she balanced her 6 year old frame on the edge of the chair so she could lean in right to her mother's face.”
Diana felt the hit as the hand smacked Lily across the cheek and knocked her to the floor. It was like an earthquake aftershock or hearing about the death of a loved one on the evening news. She just stood there frozen as she saw her sister hit the ground.
As her sister cried and her mother screamed about how it served Lily right, Diana stood there silently, blinked three time, turned and walked slowly into her room. She locked the door behind her and sat back down in front of the mirror.
Looking into the glass, she could see her reflection screaming. There was no sound, but the mirror girl was clearly red faced, crying, and screaming. Diana stared at the image and began to sing a soft lullaby that she didn't really know the words to, that she didn't even know. It was just there in her head.
As she sang the sweet and melancholy tune, the reflection girl stopped and steadied her breathing. The identical girls moved in unison. Hands pressed together, separated by the glass surface. The Dianas curled up on each side of the mirror and faded off to sleep.
Six hours, 23 cigarettes, and eight phone calls later. Mom and the locksmith opened the bedroom door. The room was filled with the usual nine year old girl paraphernalia, dolla, and various stuffed mythical beasts, pretty but dirty clothes waiting to be laundered. All the things you would expect, but no Diana.
They searched the room, the house, the neighborhood. They called the police. They questioned, arrested, and released her estranged and drunken father. Eventually it came down to milk carton photographs and clutching strings of hope.
Mother smokes two packs a day, dotes on her remaining daughter and never answers her phone. Lily spends her days trying not to cut herself. No one ever enters the bedroom where something happened. No one ever notices the full length mirror on the wall. The mirror that never holds a reflection. The mirror with a single tiny handprint that, no matter how hard you try, can never be wiped away.