IT’S A MOTHER THING
Don’t tell your daughter to text you when she’s back safely on the ground standing beside the luggage carousel at JFK because she’ll forget, she always forgets, and stay away from tonight’s headline news, particularly those tornado predictions over Kansas or your brain will swirl with visions of Dorothy and her little dog too compelling you to text and OK when you do text, only do it once, maybe twice, but don’t race into a nonstop marathon; it’ll jack up your phone bill with overage fees—think, this is overage, this is overreach, and over-the-top anxiety about why she won’t text back—think, there are logical reasons for it: still on airplane mode; battery dead; or maybe, she’s dead behind a garbage bin between JFK and her shared East Village walk-up; no one will miss her there; her roommate spent the entire holiday with her mother, something your daughter stopped doing since escaping for life after college—an education paid for by you—out the door with that damn spring in her step, her shit-ass ear-to-ear grin, before the hush grabbed you by the chest, your breath squeezed out by its silence; before she walked out the door of the only home she’d known for twenty-one years, to leave you, to go away from you, so happy away, so don’t text her, instead call the precinct around the corner from that one-bedroom where she sleeps on a pullout sofa, no privacy, how is that better than here where she belongs; call the police, demand a wellness check, lie outrageously, say you’ve had no contact for weeks, no, make it months, throw hysteria across the airways until the local beat cop rushes on his merry way to knock, then break down her door, and finds her naked beneath the patchwork quilt you hand-stitched from her childhood clothes cuddling with that boy, boy-man, ready for a romp, ready for anything, and no, don’t wince at the force of her ALL CAP TEXT demanding explanation, demanding her privacy, demanding to know what the fuck is wrong with you, because it’s a mother thing, this worry, and she won’t understand, not for decades until she’s alone wondering if her daughter’s dead like your mother did and likely your mother’s mother did, oh, no, just thank her for texting, tell her you love her, tell her now you can sleep.
Anne Anthony’s stories and poems feature flawed characters with superhuman traits. She’s been published in Longleaf Review, West Trestle, Litro Online, Anti-Heroin Chic, and other literary journals. Her short story collection, A Blue Moon & Other Murmurs of the Heart, was published in 2019. She’s a senior editor and art director for the online literary magazine Does It Have Pockets. Say hello on Instagram at @anchalastudio. Or, for more of her writing, visit: bit.ly/anneanthony.
Cover Design by Karen Rile