Queen of Hearts. That’s you. That’s you, mother. Your face holy and royal. I wish I could be as regal. As
stone cold. You are my home. Ever since I was in the womb. Ever since I was a child on the playground. Ever since I fell off the slide and slammed into the wood chips. The scrape on my knee was healed by your touch and the pint of rubbing alcohol you poured onto it. The sting I felt afterwards almost matched the one I felt on my face when you slapped me for wearing my shoes in the house. My feet swollen inside the patent leather prison. You thought I was a size five. I was a size seven. I couldn’t take them off. You did it for me. Oh mother. I don’t blame you. I don’t blame you for all the nights you forgot to make dinner. Or left me at school to walk home in the pouring rain. Home. Home. You are my home. Father left us and you became my home. You stare out the kitchen window sometimes and I want to rob the look from your tired face. I want to steal the creases from between your eyebrows. I want to, but I cannot. I now see your hollow eyes echoed in the mirror when I stare into my own reflection. The house key you gave me when I was in high school became lost in the bottom of Pier Lake. Because you are my home. Not my house.
Spade. That’s what I used to dig up the garden after you left. I was so angry. I spit petunias off my acid tongue and buried gardenias underneath the cold Earth. You left. But I understand. Sometimes houses burn. A house fire. You are now my house. I house my passions in you. I house my future in your footsteps. My father’s residing back matches yours and I am forlorn. I can’t live without a house. And you are my house. Please come back.
Ace. That’s the new dog’s name. His golden fur soft in my grasp. His tongue lolling onto the carpet as we watch the fireplace. You called me yesterday. I answered the phone and when I heard your voice I smelled the cookies you baked once for my birthday. They were the best cookies I’ve ever eaten. Doughy, but the best. Your voice sounded so welcoming. A welcome mat rolled out onto the front stoop. You wanted to come back. I smiled and set the phone back in its cradle. I didn’t know what to say. I love you, mother. But I don’t need a home anymore. I am a home. I am you. Mother. My child nestled in the crock of my elbow, just as I used to rest in yours so long ago.
Katherine is a student at the University of Nebraska Lincoln caught in-between majors of animal science and fashion design. She enjoys writing and horseback riding. She also likes to dance to crazy depressing tunes in her room when no one is watching and is known around campus for her amazing chocolate chip cookies.“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.” – Jennifer Lee