[note: this is an experimental piece, obviously still in the works as I am not sure how long or what kind of trajectory it should have. I imagine that at each paragraph break the voice changes from the mother to the daughter and then back again at the next break so that the two perspectives are intertwined. I am having some trouble with the mother as it is obviously easier for me to conjure the daughter’s voice with her multitude of complaints]
when it became clear that her daughter was not going to live the life she’d wanted, she set out to live it herself. She shaved her head as her daughter had once long ago, and sported an updated version of the heavy soled Doc Martens for which she had given her daughter so much grief years before.
If she had thought about the question at all, she would have imagined her mother aging into a wise old crone. She would have become thoughtful, still, slow in her movements, not as an old person but as practioners of tai chi, or a rescuer of wild life: muscles taunt, gliding with awareness towards some visible or invisible soul that might easily startle.
There were not, unfortunately, men to seduce and spit out, but she found herself nevertheless practicing a withering gaze and cruel smile. She imagined her loneliness as self imposed exile: tiring from the city, she’d retired to the airy country house, where she would have room to think.
She wasn’t sure what was more of an anathema to her mother: that she was poor, or that she did not have a more accomplished body of work. Had she ascended the corporate ladder, or moved to a house in the suburbs, or found a tall, handsome husband with a flash of teeth for smile, she still might have said, “I’d imagined things different for you.” She would have sighed in commiseration, lounging back on pillows by a tall window, before retreating to her color-coordinated guest room.
She bought salmon again and gave half to the dogs. After splitting their portion between two dishes, she sucked her martini and grinned at the silence into which no man argued about savings or belt tightening or bills.
“Remember when you were ejected from that girl’s pool party and you walked home twelve blocks in the nude?”
Perhaps that was the worst, that she found the rituals of her observant life a far better artifice to sleep beneath than any drunken escapade.
“Remember when the police pulled you from the top of the six story parking garage? I told them then that you were special.”
Of the things you can’t apologize for, it’s that you are not, after all, the wild girl that you were. It’s not just her mother. She’s seen the eyes of other friends glaze over when she describes her dull life. There’s no way to say sorry, that cold air and a long run do far more for the head than a hit or a sip. They–all the theys–likely know … but they needed to see someone burn brightly, they needed to believe that there was an untamed life.