For this week’s prompt at Tipsy Lit, we are to write about insanity. What would push your character over the edge? How would they snap? Is it a one time, violent snap and then return to sanity or do they cross over forever? What does that look like? Do they know they’re crazy? I’ve learned to adapt to my mother’s quirks. She doesn’t attend parent-teacher conferences without Jasper the guinea pig peaking out of her carpet bag. My teachers look at me a bit differently after they've met my mother. She dyes her hair a different color on the first of every month, hues of copper and sunshine and mahogany, because she believes it keeps others from recognizing her. Never mind that she has worn the same obtrusive floppy hat and cat-eye sunglasses and shade of Revlon lipstick (burnt sienna) for longer than it takes to turn over every cell in the body.
She lists her occupation as “Mother” although I fit the role better than she does. I cook the spaghetti and clean behind my own ears and forge her signature to pay the bills and intercept the phone calls. After she got arrested last year for too many prank calls to the 911 operator, I started locking up the telephone. She hurled a crystal vase against the wall the first time I did it, but I scurried out the front door by the time it shattered like an airplane crashing. She never mentioned the phone again.
I wish I could say that something happened to make her this way, and I suppose it had to be a lost chapter of her childhood, something she will never admit. Because her photo albums tell a different story. She led a privileged life, a girlhood of equestrian endeavors and private schools and holidays in the Mediterranean. She achieved her first expulsion at my age (thirteen and a half) when she walked through the halls of her prep school naked as a newborn.
These days, from what I can tell, she devotes her life to stretching. She calls the yoga mat her sacred space. She can twist her limbs into a pretzel and she can sit cross-legged all day long. I bet she was sitting cross-legged, looking zen as a Buddhist priest, when she made those phone calls.
Sometimes I hate her. When I tell her so, she threatens to jump off of the Aurora bridge. I know she would do it. It's too easy to close my eyes and see her broken body flattened in a parking lot, human flesh turned to red paint. She says I’m her only reason for living. And so I have learned to swallow my hatred when I feel it, blistering my heart instead of my mother's. I can’t help but love her. It’s like an addiction.