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Troublemaker Troublemaker
by Katerina Charisi
2015-11-29 13:11:29
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Something had changed inside Emily since the day that little girl invited her to her house; she started realizing that childhood wasn’t about hiding under the bed and being invisible. It wasn’t a struggle to be accepted and loved, it wasn’t punishment and peeking through keyholes to see things that shouldn’t be seen by a child’s eyes.

mil01_400She started doubting her parents’ authority; questioning their orders, ignoring their wills. She became an angry and self destructive teenager who tested her limits and her parents’ patience; and they didn’t have a lot, anyway. When they got bored hitting her, they punished her. Little she cared. When they saw that hitting and punishments left her indifferent, they just gave up on her, left her alone to do whatever she wanted, as long she wasn’t a pain in the ass.

And those days and nights Emily disappeared.

Causing trouble became her way to state protests against her parents’ incapability of parenting and their failure in their own relationship; consequently causing more trouble and problems to her. She enjoyed watching them fighting, smiling with glee as she saw her mother unable to stand against the massive figure of her dominant husband, just like she did when she was hiding under the bed when she was little and couldn’t protect herself against her mother’s moods. But at the same time she hated them both. Her mother for staying with a man who treated her like trash, her father who was around only when he needed clean clothes or sex. Who didn’t give a shit about his wife and daughter, and then she hated herself for having all these feelings, assuming that she must have really been a mistake as they all called her.

Emily had a lot of anger and pain feeding her and now it was her mother who had to look up to reach for her sight. And sometimes, what she saw in her daughter’s eyes frightened her.

“I had just got home from school, taking a long walk and looking at windows stores, entering neighborhood bookstores, wandering around, browsing books, just doing nothing to kill time and be late. Because the rule was that I had to get back home immediately after school. So I had to break that rule. Again.

My mother was waiting for me at the door. She had her arms crossed at her chest, taping her fingers on her arm, looking at me ironically and blocking the door. “Did you remember you have a home?” I didn’t reply. I just waited for her to step aside. “Don’t come inside. You have to go to the market and buy some stuff. I’m waiting for visitors. If you had been here on time, you wouldn’t have to do it while hungry. Now go. Here’s the list. We will talk about the delay later. ”

She gave me a piece of paper and money. I checked the list out of habit quickly and the money she gave me just to make sure that it was enough. You see Jinny, when mother couldn’t find anything else to blame me for, she just made up things. When I was still little, she used to send me to the market to buy things with money that weren’t enough. I never figured out what satisfied her in doing this. My humiliation when I got to the cash desk and had to apologize while customers waited for me to finish and choose what to leave behind, was it curiosity about what would I leave out of the list, or the exact fact that I would get home without having it all, so she could shout at me about it?

mil02_400She was too young when she got married, so she never finished the school; that made things really hard when she had to look for a job. If my father wasn’t a gambler, she wouldn’t need to look for a job; his salary was enough to have a decent life. But he had the bad habit to play in cards all the money he carried with him night after night. Plus my mother hated being home with me, so I guess she would have looked for a job either way.

Still, it was a hard thing to do. The only jobs she could get were the shitty ones; house cleaning, offices cleaning, saleswoman, waitress. Jobs with a lot of physical effort but no advancement. Killer routine jobs. So a friend had told her that another friend had just opened a home-ware shop and needed a presentable and loyal employee. And this friend of the friend with his wife were her visitors.”

 She got everything on the list and walked back home. She heard their loud voices and laughing from the hallway. Her mother’s voice and laugh was the loudest and full of charm. Emily never understood that kind of people. When she is mad, you can tell. The look of her face says it all, she doesn’t even need to try. How can some people hide everything and wear a happy mask?

“You laugh? I did name that look “the Happy Mask”, for real.”

She opened with her keys and before getting inside her mother stopped her again, looked at her guests with a guilty but not-my-fault face, laughed out loud and introduced her. “And this is Emily. My forgetful, abstract and barmy daughter, who forgot as usual to buy the sugar”. And looked at Emily with a smile reaching her ears, but she could see the truth in her eyes. She hated her. She was embarrassed. She didn’t write sugar on the list.

“She had invited her future boss to admire her skills in housekeeping and parenting – it was too obvious - and had no sugar. The most common thing in a house. I hadn’t forgotten a single thing. She just forgot to write about the sugar. But introducing me in this way, humiliating me in front of two strangers in fancy clothes who smiled awkwardly, obviously feeling uncomfortable sitting with their hands crossed all this time since my mother had nothing to offer them, made me mad; love. Really mad.

I walked past them and went to the kitchen, left the bags on the counter while she followed me. “There is no way I ‘m going back to the market for a pack of sugar, just because you forgot about it. And how did you dare to embarrass me like that? Why would you want me to look like a fool, instead of just saying the truth? Big fucking deal!” I raised my voice a bit more than allowed.

“You bet you get your ass back there and buy a pack of sugar; NOW!” she whizzed through her teeth.  “No!” I was standing next to the fridge, trying to open it to get myself a soda. She put her arm on the fridge’s door and raised her hand, ready to hit me. But then she remembered that he had to look up to reach my sight. I was taller than her. I wasn’t the little girl who peed her pants when that hand raised, anymore. She realized that the days of hitting were gone forever. My eyes made that clear. My words too. “Don’t you dare try.” I said and I was really going to hit her if she put her hands on me again.”

 Oh, Emily… Since I became a mother I always had your words in my mind. You know… I can’t hate your mother. I dare say I even …feel sorry for her. Do you know why? Because of the way you feel about her.

***************

My chair creaks when I stand up. My feet feel numb, so I rub them and take a few steps. The candle on the window’s sill is blown out. Was it the wind? Was that you, Emily?

Where did you go…? Where are my children?

 


    
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Leah Sellers2015-11-29 18:39:51
Brilliant Tragedy, too often experienced in Fledglings struggling about in Broken Nests. Thank you for your Gifted Truth-Saying, Katerina Charisi.


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