When Mother loses her glasses again,
we all know what’s next. Mother kneeling on her bare-knuckle knees, and poking her hands under the couch. Mother lost most of her sight years ago, and the glasses don’t help her, but we don’t tell her that.
We let her search and search, and none of us even feels guilty. Mother told us years ago that guilt is a silly thing and mostly a waste of our time.
We watch as she crawls away from the couch and into the kitchen. She reaches her arm to the countertop. Her hand like a skittery crab.
We watch her, the guilt inside of us obedient and still. Till finally, one of us, I forget which one, cannot stand it anymore. It must be the one of us who snuck out in the middle of Mother’s warnings, when Mother would line us up and tell us that if we want to succeed, there is no room for a heart.
In this way, Mother was preparing us to get into a good college, to get a high-paying job.
But the one of us who didn’t hear, is right now trying to lift Mother off the floor. Telling her how her glasses are right there on the table.
Mother simply waves that one away, and lowers her nose to the floor, sniffing the linoleum for clues. Mother told us long ago, that it’s weak to ask for help. And if she were to accept help now, well, what kind of example would that be?
* * *
Written by Francine Witte.
Francine Witte’s poetry and fiction have appeared in Smokelong Quarterly, Wigleaf, Mid-American Review, and Passages North. Her latest books are Dressed All Wrong for This (Blue Light Press,) The Way of the Wind (AdHoc fiction,) and The Theory of Flesh (Kelsay Books.) Her chapbook, The Cake, The Smoke, The Moon (flash fiction) will be published by ELJ in Fall 2021. She is flash fiction editor for Flash Boulevard and The South Florida Poetry Journal. She lives in NYC.