My mother is lying on top of the baby blue sheets. I help her into a sitting position then I push a birthday hat onto her bald head. She smiles and says thank you. We both know it’s not her birthday. She says the cake is a nice touch. It cost me a few extra bucks to have them do a nude Harrison Ford but it was worth it. It’s Harrison Ford from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
Twenty years earlier I was sitting on the couch in our small apartment. My sister was hiding in the basement with all the washing and drying machines. My mother was in a weird mood and so was my sister. My sister was twelve or thirteen I think which made me ten or eleven. I liked looking at the naked ladies in my Dad’s magazines. I liked playing in the woods. We were all growing older. It made my sister upset. My mother said to leave her alone and so I did, eventually.
Twenty five years earlier I was watching a man use an auger to drill a hole through the ice. Other men were on the ice too and they were all tight underneath their clothes and they were all fishing, thin poles rising and falling. The walls of a green tent flapped and popped in the wind.
My mother said, Warmer in here.
I asked for a bite size which meant I wanted a piece of candy. She pulled the car alongside the curb in front of the store. The rubber tires pushed through the slush, slush, slush.
What’ll it be, Ma? I ask. Whip, hat, or something else?
My mother considers the question, adjusts the hat with her thumb. The paper makes a soft scraping sound over her naked skin. Her eyes search Harrison Ford then settle.
I’ll eat this, she laughs, pointing, and I can’t help but laugh and point, too.
My sister is on her way now. She’s been out of the basement for years.
Mel Bosworth is the author of the novel Freight. Visit his website at melbosworth.com.