family weekend

by Audrey Bowers

family weekend  

i sit across from my mother

in the middle of a steakhouse

in muncie, indiana

 

i don’t know if she knows this:

but i don’t want to be her daughter

& she doesn’t know that I know this:

but she doesn’t want to be my mother

at least not like this

 

she works at kroger,

dreams of escaping her life for once & for all

she left me when I was a child, not once, but twice

once for music city, another time for palm trees

& beaches in cali, homelessness was something

she became used to & something i feared

 

we dare not speak this truth into being. instead,

 

we mask our pain

play make believe

eat at restaurants

we can’t afford

 

order steak & chicken

fried pickles & mozzarella sticks

even though we should probably share an entrée

nothing but the best, this is a special occasion after all

 

i eat all of the bread & butter,

order a cocktail to my mother’s dismay

because i need a drink

to deal with this bullshit.

 

she complains about not having a good job

& her master’s degree classes

& her dumb professor

i don’t want to clean toilets anymore, she says.  

that’s not my fault, i tell her

why can’t you care about me for once?

 

we talk about my life for two minutes

& then she’s back where she started,

blaming the world for her circumstances.

 

she tells me how open-minded she is,

although she cringes every single time i mention

my future girlfriend or wife. she made me cry

in a bookstore once because of it.

 

i pay half of the bill even

though i’d prefer not to, i told her to visit

even though i didn’t really want to see her,

thought it was a kind gesture;

that kind gesture put us both through hell.

 

usually, we say our i love you’s

& our i miss you’s,

but this time, it didn’t end like that

i slam her car door, storm

off to my apartment, & don’t look back.

Audrey Bowers is a senior creative writing major at Ball State University. Currently, she is the editor in chief of Brave Voices Magazine. Her work has been published in the Ball State Daily News, StudyBreaks magazine, RethinkingKidLit.com, among other publications. 

Audrey Bowers

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