3 min

Crying all morning

Going home can be so hard

Credit: Xtra West files

The call from Will’s mother interrupted (as per tradition) a particularly effective blowjob.

“You have to come home tonight,” she told him. “Your father is out on the boat, and David is… I don’t know where David is.” She was audibly well groomed. He heard her running dishes under water. “If I had a dog, like I wanted, you wouldn’t have to,” she continued. “But, look, I can’t be alone in this house.”

But after bustling the nameless boy from his sheets, showering, shaving, shitting, Will wondered how, in the barely broken grey morning, he had again become his mother’s warden. And how many times had he dismissed sex after a maternal bark came down the line? The social contract that demanded eternal slavery in reciprocation for the original gift of birth seemed a hard bargain.

It was noon when Will looked into the kitchen at his parent’s place. Grandma Bud was over for her coffee-a daily ritual the two women had enacted ever since Will and his brothers were grown.

“What use can there possibly be for making gingerbread men in November?”

His mother looked up, rolling pin in hand, hurt. “I freeze them.”

“Hello!” Grandma Bud rose to embrace him. “Oh gosh, it’s good to see you!”

“How’s it going?”

“I was just telling your mother, telling her…” But some rusted faculty prevented her. “Well, how are you, anyway? I haven’t seen you in ages. Are you still seeing that nice boy? The dark-skinned one?”

Will didn’t have the heart to admit there had been a dozen boys since Sharif. What was truth compared to making someone happy? “We still see each other, yeah,” smiled Will. And this made her seem very glad. Will’s mother began cutting men.

Grandma Bud’s wet eyes suddenly lit up, as they often did when a pleasantry presented itself. “I had a very intense crush on a girl once.” She smiled inwardly, at her own youth, recalling some lamp of love that now only lit her memory. “I was maybe 10, and Sarah! Sarah babysat the four of us when my mother and father went out.” Bud monitored the progress of the coffee machine. “Sarah had lovely long dark hair!”

Will’s mother put a hand on her hip:”Oh, Mom! What’s that supposed to mean?”

Bud only doodled with a ringed finger into the stray flour on the counter. “Oh, it’s silly. But I do know what I felt. That’s all.”

“Are you having coffee,” wondered Will’s mom. And she poured the cup before he could answer her.

Will looked out the window at smoky sheets of rain and saw the trees had not grown since he was 12. He wished he were anywhere else. Why couldn’t the milkman or the mailman walk by, interrupt the scene? The phone rings all day but chokes just when a little jarring would be welcome. Will looked into the space between his mother and grandmother, picked up his mug, and said nothing.

A painful silence that reminded Will of the morning after bad sex settled around these women and himself. Until, sadly, cheerfully, Grandma Bud slid off her perch and piped, “Well! I’d best be off! I have some errands to run and then I said I’d baby-sit for Susan. It was good to see you, Will.”

“Bye, Bud.”

And then there were two. The concentration his mother used to roll and cut her dough was manic. She was so busy. Will left the kitchen and lay on the couch, turned on the TV.

It was a formula drama, and Will watched in a stupor until his mother appeared at the sliding wood door. Her face looked red, but it might have only been the family room’s lighting. And she stood behind Will, watching the television too.

Finally, Will turned during a commercial. “Do you want something?”

And there was that look again. Hurt for no reason. As though something terrible Will did in infancy should now be paid for.

“Why are you so angry?” she asked, helpless.

“I’m not.”

“But you’ve become so…”

“You too.” But neither Will nor his mother bothered to name it. She sat, flour up and down her jeans, her T-shirt, on the couch beside Will, and they watched TV until it was time for dinner.

“Do you want some wine?” she asked him. “I think I’m having wine.”


And as she handed Will a glass, she sipped her own and pinched up her face. Will drank his down quickly and chopped a few peppers. “I was crying all morning,” she said. “But I don’t know why.”