The Fight

Irene turned at the door and screamed so ferociously that bloody spittle flew from her mouth, chasing the words. “You’re a bitter old hag, and I hate you!” She slammed the door and threw herself on her bed, sobbing her heart out.

Her mother, Diane, sat serenely on the middle of the couch, leaving the cushions to either side of her undisturbed. She blinked in the direction of Irene’s room, but that was the only indication she gave of having witnessed the outburst.

After a moment, she uncrossed her ankles, rose from the sofa, and walked swiftly to her own room, where she lay on her back and crossed her arms over her chest. A single tear tracked a line through the layers of makeup coating her skin.

While Diane lay calmly in her bed, Irene’s rage grew and grew. Distressing thoughts began to intrude on her, and she couldn’t push them away this time, like she’d always been able to do before.

Thoughts of pain. Thoughts of vengeance. Thoughts of murder.

Eventually, each of the women fell asleep in their beds. The silence echoed through the house all night long until the morning, when it was broken by the alarm on Irene’s phone.

Irene dragged herself out of bed and to her bathroom where she regarded her swollen eyes with anguish. It would never do to show this face in public. She quickly texted her best friend that she wouldn’t be at school, and she went back to bed without waiting for a response.

The school would call her mother, true, but Diane probably wouldn’t answer her phone anyway. Irene knew that she was well under the limit of unexcused absences, and she also knew that she wouldn’t see her mother for at least three days. The older woman always hid after a fight of that magnitude.

Irene thought back to the words she couldn’t take back: I’m not worthless, you are. You would be nothing without me. You won’t even walk to the mailbox, so you can’t even send out checks to pay the bills. They tasted flavorful enough, but they could have used a bit more seasoning.

After all, what is the proper response when one’s own mother calls her only daughter, a straight-A student, a worthless imbecile with the wrong priorities, someone who will never amount to anything in life no matter how hard she tries? Irene felt that words a little stronger would have been quite in order.

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