Lisa Washbrook Twisted Sister Fiction Twisted Sister Parenting

FLASH FICTION — The Art of Deception

There was a stillness about the house as she turned on her automatic espresso maker and prepared the milk to steam for her latte. She did these tasks with a rote familiarity that came with daily repetition. Soon her quiet domain would be inundated with the sounds of her family scuttling about getting ready for their own day. “Mom, can I have money for lunch?” was the most common request from her teenager, and “Mom, please sign this permission form…” often came from her pre-teen who was on so many teams she was sure she would be out of class more than she was in, during the spring season.

These moments were the best. She especially loved the argumentative banter between the kids that was full of love and caring, even if it had a touch of sarcasm and the occasional angry tone. It was during these times she truly felt alive, truly understood the joy of being a MOM. These feelings of joy and contentment however, were short lived — contained only in the presence of her precious children.

It was after the door closed and everyone was gone, that she permitted herself to feel deflated. The empty house, full of empty chores and disorganization sat like a brick on her chest. That brick was so heavy it was impossible to lift or move. Instead, she flopped down on the couch and just as mindlessly as she’d made her coffee earlier, she flicked on the television and found an intellectually numbing show that was likely geared to the cognitive ability of a five-year old.

Is that what it has come down to she wondered? Television and media aimed to the lowest possible intellect to encourage addiction at an early age? Still it hardly mattered. Nothing mattered — really.

She laid down now, taking some comfort in the contradictory feeling of the cold leather under her and the warm blanket she’d pulled over herself. Half listening to the tube and half listening to her own internal dialogue berating herself for not being able to get up off the couch and do something, for not being good enough.

That was the clincher, maybe it was less about the overwhelming task of life than it was about her underwhelming ability to handle it? She would stay there all day, laying under the weight of disappointment, the weight of expectations, and most of all, the weight of failure. It had become clear to her many years ago, that she was gravely inept. And today like every other day she closed her eyes and sank into the old couch basking in the depressiveness that she so artfully hid from the rest of the world.

There were pills, they were easy enough to get. A small sleeping issue complaint to the family doctor a few times and she had enough to make it count. These pills sat hidden in her underwear drawer, and they nagged her incessantly. Do it, they cried. Get some water and meet us in the bedroom they called. And sometimes, only sometimes they whispered her name throughout the entire day. Those were the toughest days of all.

Those were the days she wandered into her room, and stood in front of her dresser for long periods of time. Thinking. Just thinking. Once or twice, maybe more if she really gave it thought, she might have brought a water-glass with her as well. Something to wash the pills down with. So far she’d been able to work up the courage to prevent herself from opening the drawer and root around looking for those little blue pills, but one day she might not be strong enough, and that was the scariest thought of all.

Today was not one of those days, and for that she was thankful. No, today she lay on the couch until the very last moment. Only then did she get up and shuffle to the kitchen. Finding a bowl, she added the ingredients she knew by heart, mixed until combined and baked until golden. Just in time for the children to arrive home from school. It would be wonderful to see their reactions to the smell of fresh-baked cookies when they walked through the door.

*

As a social worker, Lisa Washbrook is a survivor of all kinds of things, but especially life. She prefers to see the glass half-full, and can be found at https://whatdifferencewemake.wordpress.com/

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