Crack the Spine Magazine, Issue 202


By Aundria Adams


Secretly scrubbing the rim of the toilet with my mother's toothbrush began to lose its luster. Primarily, because I did it for my satisfaction, as she never suspected her dental instrument made regular trips to unchartered regions of the bathroom. My efforts never erased her painful words, only frayed the bristles so I rinsed them off and devised a new plan. One that would make her experience the anguish I felt in hearing day-after-day that I should have been aborted. To leave a scar in her memory equally painful as the scars she left on my twelve year old skin.

I waited for the catalyst. At about four in the afternoon my carefully orchestrated performance unfolded. She stood at the foot of the staircase that led to my bedroom with a pinched expression.

"Did you clean the litter box like I asked?" The irritation in her thick New York accent stiffened my insides.

"No," I shouted back.

"Well, get your ass down in the basement and clean that box before I open the front door and let her out for good. You wanted a God damn cat but you don't want to take care of it. I'm sick of this shit."

Her ranting trailed into the living room where she redirected her taunts towards my drunk stepfather, passed out on the couch.

I sat atop of the dingy carpeted staircase and drew up the long sleeve of my flower printed thermal shirt. The fake blood I purchased at a novelty shop was about to be worth every couch penny I scrounged together to buy it. I examined the shiny tube, bit into the plastic, and broke the seal on the vile. A small amount of dark red liquid gathered at the tip releasing a faint toxic odor that reminded me of modeling glue. Nervousness swirled in the pit of my gut. Okay, it's now or never. I palmed the plastic, silver knife I found on the sidewalk weeks earlier—the toy that sparked my premeditated masterpiece. All that remained was a fake blade with no handle. My mother wouldn't notice its imperfections from the bottom of the stairs. I hid the would-be handle within my fist, then squeezed the tube running the oozing red liquid along the blade's edge and down my forearm. I incorporated a wrist-to-forearm technique into my plan, a result of my social worker informing me that slitting one's wrists from left to right rarely ends in fatality. Allowing my eyeballs to dry out, I remained unblinking for a minute or so, cultivating fake tears for dramatic effect. A talent I discovered by accident that would later land me the part as Virgin Mary in our church play.

With blood running and tears flowing I summoned all of the negativity my mother generated over the years and let out a blood curdling, "Mom!"

"What?" She asked, with little concern from our kitchen downstairs.

"What do you want?" Her voice erupting with agitation as her heavy footsteps quickened and rounded the staircase. I didn't have to answer.

She stood at the bottom of the stairs in her tattered black t-shirt and stained white cotton shorts looking up at me. Upon laying her eyes on her daughter with blade in hand, her usual bothered disposition transformed into pure terror. Ribbons of dark red liquid streamed down my forearm and splashed onto the linoleum landing. For the first time I heard concern for me in my mother's voice. Her tone gentle and unfamiliar.

"What did you do?"

I let her stand there and wallow in the image of her only daughter sitting at the top of the staircase, dying in a pool of her own blood. She didn't run towards me. Just stared with her mouth agape, as if the devil had stolen her breath. In those few seconds, I almost felt sorry for my mother.

I decided to release her. My faux sadness morphed into elation as I lifted the blade off of my wrist.

"Just kidding. It's fake blood. See?" I said grinning then flicked some blood off of my wrist in her direction and let out a guttural laugh.

My sharp-tongued mother was speechless. She stared at me a moment longer before muttering, "You're not fuckin' funny," then disappeared around the corner into the kitchen to spark up a Virginia Slim Light and call a friend. I made little effort to eavesdrop. I just sat at the top of the stairs replaying the image of her pained stare alongside the echoing of her many wishes of me dead. At that moment I realized those wishes were lies. Somewhere deep down in the hollows of her soul—my mother did love me.