As the Sunday sun arose, Emma’s mother trudged up the stairs. Despite her obesity, Valencia Aborgast fought to be beautiful. She underwent surgeries to thwart nature. Her money worked to “improve” herself to attract the stronger sex. Despite all her efforts, she produced Emma.
“I should’ve sued the sperm bank for malpractice,” she thought to herself, looking up at Emma’s only picture. She hung it as far up on the stairway so others wouldn’t see Emma’s face.
Valencia cringed at Emma. The donor sperm produced a bloated monster. She glared at Emma’s full moon face, tiny eyes, and thick lips. Even Emma’s hair resembled a frizzy copper scouring brush.
Hammering on Emma’s bedroom door was Valencia’s only relief. Today, she would throw out her life’s only mistake. After aborting her daughter onto a Greyhound bound for anywhere, Valencia planned to celebrate.
“Wake up, you bitch It’s your 18th birthday.”
“What time is it, mom?” Emma called in an oddly sweet sounding voice.
“Time for you to get out ” Valencia shouted, “I’ve had enough of your potato sack body ”
“Like they did to you?” Emma asked.
“Yeah I’ll give you five minutes to pack.”
“I don’t feel too good,” Emma called.
“Get your shit ready and get downstairs.”
“I can’t get up.”
“I’m calling the cops to haul your fat ass out.”
Valencia stomped down the steps, swiftly striding into the kitchen. Sitting down at the table, she poured whiskey into her coffee. She needed liquid courage to stare at her life’s mistake one last time. The neighborhood women claimed Emma was much nicer than their own daughters. Valencia snorted at their praises.
“She’s too ugly and stupid to get a man Everyone makes fun of her on Facebook. Even the little kids tease her.”
Valencia hated people feeling sorry for Emma. They should have felt sorry for her because she suffered with Emma. Her daughter couldn’t finish high school with her learning disabilities.
Valencia stared at her cell phone. The phone’s white numerals said: 6:14 A.M.
“What’s taking that bitch so long?” she growled.
Valencia stormed up the stairs.
“I got you a ticket for Los Angeles on the 7:35 A.M. Greyhound.”
“Mom,” Emma moaned, “I can’t get up.”
Valencia rammed against the hard wooden door. She cursed the old house’s builders for making it too strong. If she hadn’t stole those credit card numbers, she’d be living with Emma in a ghetto.
“I’ll need an axe to cut through it.” Valencia descended the stairs.
“Mom ” Emma called but Valencia disappeared into the basement.
Valencia hacked through the door until she made a large enough hole to put her head
through. Delightfully sneering, she called out, “Here’s Mommy.”
Emma lay with her back towards her mother. Her blankets wrapped around her bloated body, resembling a red cocoon.
“Get up,” she hollered to the flannel blankets.
“I can’t move,” Emma said from beneath them.
Valencia tugged at the bedding. “What’s going on here? How many blankets do you have on you?”
“Just this one,” Emma sounded as if mummified.
“If you drooled on them again,” Valencia warned, “I’ll make you wash them yourself.”
“I always do housework ” Emma sobbed, “All you do is hack into people’s credit cards.”
“My mother also threw me out on my 18th birthday,” Valencia snapped.
“Am I that ugly, too?” Emma moaned, “Grammy and Grampy only loved you if you had a child. They didn’t love you neither Parents love their kid no matter what she looks like.”
Valencia sat down on the side of the bed, her mouth falling open.
“You went through those surgeries to look pretty. You got my dad’s sperm but you weren’t happy You want me to be like you? Beautiful on the outside but sad on the inside?”
Fighting back tears, Valencia raced from the room.
“I’m calling the cops ” she shouted.
After dialing 9-1-1, Valencia poured more whiskey into her coffee. What Emma said made Valencia cry. Why would Emma want her to remember her stupid parents? Shaking off
her sad memories, she wondered if the Elkins Park cops were handsomer than the Abington ones.
Within the silence, she heard a loud, rustling noise.
“What the hell is that bitch doing now?” Valencia dashed up the stairs.
Emma sat upright on her bed, fat elbows pushing within the sheet.
“The cops will be here,” Valencia yelled, “They’ll get you out.”
“Wait a minute, Mom,” Emma panted, “I can get out through the top.”
Valencia gasped as a thin, black antenna uncurled itself. The two policemen stared at a giant butterfly seated on Emma’s bed. Peeling off her sheet, the butterfly stood up.
“Mom,” Emma said, “You always said I was different. And now I know why. Just yesterday, I think, this wonderful thing happened to me…and I’m beautiful now. See?”
Valencia grasped at Emma’s sheet, weeping into its fabric. Emma flapped her wings. They resembled an abstract work of art, vibrant spring colors spanning five feet each. Long, black antennae stretched to the ceiling. Her face became a heart-shaped thing of beauty. Long lashed doe eyes blinked at Valencia.
“Oh, Mom,” Emma cried. “Don’t worry about the Greyhound I can fly to Los Angeles.” The two policemen holstered their guns, nodding to Valencia and Emma.
“We’ll just leave and forget it about it, Mrs. Arbogast,” the blond patrolman said.
“Say goodbye to your insect…uh…daughter for us,” the other officer murmured.
Emma tapped on the window panes.
“Mom,” she asked, “Could you open this for me?”
Valencia edged her way between Emma and the window. Shoving it up, Valencia helped Emma into the sill. Unfolding her wings, Emma took to the skies.
“Come back whenever you can,” Valencia cried after her. “I’ll keep the room ready for you ”
Linda Barrett writes as much as people do their breathing. Everywhere she goes, she has a pen in her hand. Her work is featured in Barbara Custer’s Night to Dawn Magazine and other short story publications. She has lived in Abington, Pa. a Philadelphia suburb since 1964.