Your Mother is a Book

 

Your mother is a book. However, she is not just any book. She is the book you always
carry along. Your mother is not a self-help book. She is a book which critiques self-
help books. When you were in high school, you used to hide your mother behind other,
cooler books.

Your mother is a cookbook. Your mother is a book of comic strips. Your mother is
a hardcover book with a weatherproof jacket. She is a stifled chuckle on the subway, or in
the waiting room of the doctor’s office while you wait to find out if you have gallstones.

You do have gallstones. You have to get emergency surgery, and of course, your
mother is there. She is a book which explains what “laparoscopic” means. She is the
book you always carry along.

When you’re in surgery, your mother is a book resting eagerly beside your hospital
bed. She is quiet. She is waiting for you. When you’re out of surgery, in pain and
bloated with gas, your mother is a book which tries to be funny. She fails. You explain
that it hurts to laugh, but you appreciate the effort. For the rest of night, your mother is
a book of only pictures.

See the pictures. See her silent and sleeping in the dark of the hospital room. See
the glass of water you can’t reach. See the way she sleeps and remember when you
used to dash to her room and dive into her bed because you had a nightmare.

Remember that the nightmares were your fault. You asked your mother, every single
night, to be a ghost story. The ghost story is inside of you now. You remember one
about a guy who got his liver ripped out by hungry demons. You think: Gallbladder, liver.
Close enough.

In the morning, your mother asks if you’re ok. She is a lyrical poem. She strides
over to your bed to prop you up and ask you if need any food or water. You ask for the
water. She is a survival guide on how to survive losing an organ. Then a nurse walks in
and takes your blood. Another ghost story comes to mind. You think: My mother is a
better nurse than you, you demon. The nurse says you should try walking. You want to say:
I have, it’s quite nice. You say nothing. The nurse leaves.

Your mother is your favorite book. She comes over to you and helps you out of
bed, even though you’re whining and moaning. You stand up because of your mother.

You feel like a child as you scan your room and see the banner along the walls is
decorated with horses. You’re eighteen and still in the children’s wing. Your mother is a
book which has a few jokes about that. Together, you gently shuffle out of the hospital
room to practice walking.

In the hallway, one of your hands grips a metal railing and the other holds your
mother’s bicep. You feel childish and elderly at the same time. Your past and future
have collapsed into the present. You and your mother walk away from the room, and
step by step, things get easier. Your mother is a book which understands that things get
easier. You let go of the metal railing and feel strong.

In that moment, you realize you’re a lot like her. You’re a book, too. You and your
mother are books. Sometimes, you carry each other.

 

* * *

 

Greg Letellier is enrolled in an MFA program, but can’t figure out how to pay for it. His work is published or forthcoming in Dum Dum Zine, Cheap Pop Lit, Poydras Review, Bartleby Snopes, Extract(s), among others. He tweets @GregWritesStuff

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