She is a factory worker, and she is my mom. I am proud of her, I assure myself, as I think back on the memory of her first paycheck lying on the kitchen counter. I brushed aside the odd thought of money being so dear. That wasn’t my intention.
That particular golden evening held a stagnant heat, the leftovers of a sweltering day, which discreetly dissolved into the lunar breeze before I ever realize each night. At her break time she called me.
“Do you see it?”
“Yeah, I see it mum. Congratulations.”
“Thank you. So what are you up to?”
“Ate the dinner you left in the fridge, it was really good. No, the soup wasn’t too salty, thank you. I was going to read that French book, it’s like learning English all over again.”
“Uh huh, that’s good. Hm, well, I’m just on my break, eating now.”
“Yes, so I’ll talk to you later then.”
“Love you too.”
Each night we repeat the activity with a similar dialogue. We do not see each other before I go to sleep, or rather if she must, she could confirm my slumber from the shadow of my blanketed figure in my darkened room when she returns. I don’t particularly mind, the private afternoons go by calmly. Frequently, I indulge myself in my favorite TV show, and then chastise myself to take up some more reading. Reading aloud in French precisely, to practice my accent; I think back on her comment from another day, “it is such a beautiful language, your grandfather tried to teach me, to no avail.” I have yet to think of a way to curb my harsh throaty ‘r’s’. Sometimes, when I feel exasperation call in the back of my mind, behind a mask of calm, I continue flipping through the dictionary pages. I refuse to acknowledge the frustration. I will learn.
Usually, at around 7, I wash all my dishes and go upstairs to take my shower. As of recent, I took the leisure to find songs to sing. Most of the music on my phone proves impossible, otherwise ghastly choices, but I try to find something she would like, remembering faintly the last time she suggested for me to sing in the car and I had nothing to offer. I practice, briefly taking the time to learn each song, barely conscious of gesturing my head, or of suspending my arms besides my abdomen. Truly, there is no one to put up a show for.
Awhile after, when it is half past 7, I actually proceed to the shower. One of these days, I had stopped singing in them, and upon realization, I found nothing comes to mind when I rake through odd pieces of old lyrics. Somewhere along the way, the blind passion to sing had gone. Discarding that thought, I often entertain myself with life’s oddities, such as my cat. Occasionally, he creeps through the bathroom door as I come out of the shower, pushing the wooden frame aside with a nudge of his head. I tease him, calling him a serial pervert; most of the time though, he takes up more interest in my garbage can. When the odd occasion does arrive for him to entangle in between my legs, I am forced to scare him off with a flicker of wet hair. Exchanging the drying droplets of water for a pair of furry legs is no laughing matter. Once, when I had indulged him, I took the penance of swiping down odd clusters of fur all over me. Even when I was to brusquely brush them off my skin, they ultimately came back to some weird suction I cannot avoid. On these instances, I think I finally began to understand my mother’s incessant complaints of his shedding fur.
By the time I have dressed and brushed my hair, it is perhaps an hour and a half till bed time. With two blue toned lamps lit in the living room, I take refuge on the adjacent couch and read to myself quietly again. My evening returns to peace, but not before I turn down the blinds, to avoid nosy neighbors, my mother likes to say, though there really is no fuss to be looked at. For the next part of the hour, you will find my cold, damp hair propped up on the head of the couch, myself drawing my grandmother’s robe around my romp and across my shoulder. Maybe one day I dream to read to my mother in French, though I am not aware. She’d like that.
– So my first piece of submission to my writing class turned out better than I had expected, and therefore, if this sounds more formal than usual, now you know why.