relations

Posted on September 30, 2009

5


Family success is a mess arranged neatly by generations. In our family, one male heir was allowed to be born every hundred years. This is how I came to be, and though I was a centenarian, I knew what I had to do. I think the pressure, though it may seem small to some of you inhibited me so that, at a relatively young age, I decided to forget all about sex and fertilisation of the female kind. Of course I knew the mechanics. And I knew all about love between a man and a woman from Shakespeare whose sonnets were shelved on my private loo upstairs. I spent long hours there beyond need leafing through the depth of the human soul in heat. Yet, it was theoretical knowledge, dry and wispy, and I had not talked to a woman besides mother in a long time let alone touched one.

She was called Hilda, born and bred in Heidelberg, Germany. She was clearly made of oak and had sprung straight from an acorn into a life doting on dotards. I had spotted her from my window and thrown her a dirty look upon which she approached the front, jumped over the garden gate, stomped past the dead flower beds and over the lavender that grew like a weed, and rang the door bell.

It took me a while to get downstairs, and when I opened the door, I was surprised at her voice, which had a silken quality to it like that of someone slumbering with their eyes open and their tongue heavy.  I need someone to help me take care of my mother, I said, and I couldn’t help noticing your strong upper arms and calves. Well, here I am, she said, with a tone that revealed she was flattered, quite contrary to my expectations, and arranged her mouth to a smile. She seemed not worried about my unusual manner of hiring. I asked her in and explained her duties. She would have to live in the house and allow me to lead a life of my own. She would have to turn mother twice daily. She would have to change her diapers, make her food and sit by her every day for a little while talking to her about anything at all. Hilda’s curiosity about our household, if it existed, was completely concealed by the natural restraint of her people. There was little more to say and she seemed happy to retreat to her room downstairs.

There was no talk of moving mother to the basement anymore. I already felt sorry for my outburst the other day.

Mothers rarely make the news except when they give birth to squids, take to a neutering knife or hover (weightlessly) over the family dinner table. My mother was no different. She would’ve made the news if anyone had known how old she was, but somehow she’d fallen off the grid as I had. Without her man, she was going it alone and I was all that was left. I remember how mother took me to the place where she had to drop off knitted cylindrical hats made to cover loo rolls, something that petty people seemed to like then: a naked toilet roll was an insult to their eyes. I don’t imagine the job paid well. I didn’t care though: I was happy to help her carry a bag full of knitware in all colours and spend three hours chatting with her, or just listen to her talk about herself. I cannot recall anything mentioned on that day, but I do remember my feeling of intense happiness to have mother all to myself, and to see her so beautiful, tall and blonde and strong, moving about the train despite her burden, holding her head high in the shabby office building where women from everywhere filed past a snotty receptionist, dropped her measly millinery, got paid, and trotted home again. Many of them accompanied by kids of all ages, colours, sizes and moods.

Knowing mother, I felt she and Hilda would hit it off. And if I was right, I would’ve held my first promise to myself, leaving me with the greater task of finding a way into the outside world, which did not know anything about me. I was going to leave the cosy path of the casual observer and step into the raunchy river, clasping my fear like a cookie gone cold and hard in my hand. Having passed the only person who could possibly care about me into someone else’s hands, I now needed to find other people who might care for me, and care about them.

© 2009 finnegan flawnt, continuing where resurrection (flying fox) left off.

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Posted in: arthur icarus