Staring straight into the sun, the robin flew up, struggled with its broken wing, then fell with the ease of weight back to the ground. Gary walked to the little bird, hatched a few days prior, and stepped on it. Was this a quality of mercy? His mother asked herself having witnessed the entire event from their third story farm house window. This was not the first eye witness account of Gary’s humanity misdemeanors.
Brenda shuddered remembering their turtle Gus and his cruel fate of being flushed down the toilet only to resurface and be flushed down again with Gary’s three year old eyes holding nothing amusing or satisfying in them- mere curiosity, a detachment Brenda would often see in her husband’s own eyes. She removed herself from the site of Gary bending over the dead bird and walked down stairs to the kitchen to make supper. Before closing the door behind her to Gary’s room she thought If I had been that bird, I wouldn’t have fallen.
The days had a thick feel to them. Not summery, and not the freshness of Spring, just a stickiness a promise of death, change and mutation. This was what Brenda was thinking when Gary snuck up behind her with a fork and poked her in the thigh with it. Deep, a fast flash of vermillion fluid poured out of her leg and she dropped the roast to the ground. Hot as volcano ash meat juices flew into the air and landed all over Gary. He screamed, complimenting Brenda’s own wailing. It was a type of baptism: Blood of the mother and the christening of the boy.
Brenda ran to the sink and turned on the faucet then grabbed the sprayer and aimed it at Gary. She washed him in this manner for five, ten, fifteen minutes, until the boy was soaked, his eyes awash with pain no longer but something else. Brenda thought murderer that look in his eyes, the distaste he had for her now as she was the one who caused him his pain. Brenda turned the faucet off. She grabbed a towel and wrapped it around her leg and when she looked up, her son was gone. “Gary! Gary! Gaaaaarrrrry! ” Brenda’s shouts revealed nothing.
Air. Emptiness. The stretch of geography as she faced the farm then turned her back on it and trotted to the barn door. “Gary! Mommy is looking for you. Where are you? ” No answer. The sound of a horse stamping, wasps darting in and out of the holes in the wood beams and the disheveled hay on the floor told Brenda Gary had been in here. “Gary, I know you’re here. You’re not in trouble, please come out. ” Maybe death stirred behind the crevices of the wood beams but nothing else. Brenda ascended the ladder to hay loft.
Gary’s shoe, distorted strands of shoe lace and guano stared at her from her perch on the top rung. Brenda sneezed. The hay settled. It is remarkable that in moments like this the tiniest bit of pressure in the room makes a person turn their head just in time to see their undoing. Gary was at the bottom of the ladder. Always a child with exceptional strength he kicked the ladder again and again then bull dozed into it. Brenda fell with a hard smack to the barn floor. Gary approached her with that same look in his eyes as though she were a robin that failed to fly. Detachment.
A turtle in a toilet. A wounded mother with compassion replaced with horror as he son walked away from her disjointed body. Brenda could not move. She was perhaps paralyzed, maybe even dead and her spirit hadn’t the strength to leave her body. Nothing inside her shifted. No guilt faded if guilt had been her impetus for allowing her son to torture her these past few years. What was that song she used to sing him when he was a child? Hush little baby don’t say a word, mommy’s going to buy you a mocking bird…God is a mocking creature she thought, the rest of her blood spilling out of her.
Courtney from Study Moose
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