Maddie would look at it for three hours straight. She always felt bad for not polishing it and even more for calling it “it”. It was her mother for god sake! She knew better but somehow this ritual practice only made her feel worse. Her eyes would redden, and her stomach would flatten every time she would try to make sense as to why she no longer loved her.
Her mother was sick. Maddie had begged her to fight, please mom live, and her mom begged her to leave her alone. You aren’t letting me live by telling me to keep on living she’d say. All Ms. Katie wanted was for everyone to know that after she passed, at least her soul would not die with her. She lingered at the thought that her mother’s soul was wandering in that dusty vase. Maybe she wanted to get out, maybe she liked being inside because it was like a cocoon. Maybe, only maybe. Ms. Katie had said before it’s better for a soul to have a comforting place where love is nurtured by those outside of it. The fruit bears out of love my child. The soul must be fed, and it is only fed by those who the soul accepts.
Perhaps her mother never loved her. The more she’d stare, the more she’d feel the spirit of her mother push her away, the more she felt herself wanting to crack the vase and eat the ashes away. She’d at least feel peace knowing her mother’s soul was inside her and not inside the stupid green and pink flower vase she had bought three months ago at a thrift store.
Sitting in her blue dress, ten feet from the vase, she wished her mom would come to take it off. She wanted her mom to see her nudity like the day she saw hers. She found her mother naked in the bathtub. Mom it’s time for dinner, and her mom like a moth caressed the tub. If only her mom had waited to take a bath after dinner, maybe, she wouldn’t have died. The Chinese food she had prepared that day would have given her a smile or the pumpkin pie she had baked would have given her the sweetness she needed. No, her mother was so stubborn. That’s why she had so many wrinkles. She yelled all the time at Maddie for obstructing her schedule if she hadn’t done what she wanted on time. Mom I’ll clean the garden, you go inside and rest.
No child, and she’d continue to tug on the weeds as she felt her heart barely beat up in the air. Her white hands reminding her that her veins weren’t carrying enough white blood cells anymore- killing her as they diminished in blood quantity each day, hour and second.
She hated herself for hating the vase, and she hated that her mother never cared for her suffering. She sat up from the rocking chair and took the vase in her hands from the countertop of the kitchen. She gripped it with all her might just as her mother would hug her at bedtime when she was a child. Goosebumps rose from her toes to her fox face, and she felt her mother choke the words that wanted to fly out of her mouth to say, I hate you mother. I hate you for not letting me help. It’s your own fault you died! A tornado of birds started to form inside her. If she broke the vase her mother would be mad, and if she didn’t, she’d have to continue to do her rituals until one day her mother would finally give in. Until her mother finally realized she was wrong.
What’s so special about living in a fucken vase! She yelled. Maddie cried as she remembered all of this. She felt her hands weaken. She slipped onto the floor holding the vase at her chest. Bent down, her knees dug for help, and her head crossed a bridge of hopelessness.
From the window of the tight cardboard house a butterfly flew onto the vase. Maddie stopped crying and the tiny colored creature slipped onto her fingers. Maddie held it with such sensitivity. She examined it as she had examined her mother when she first found out the news she had breast cancer. Momma is this you? She spoke to the butterfly and not at the vase. She placed the vase next to her and still in a prayer position, she hugged the butterfly.
Sitting and waiting
She fed her mom since-
The leaves of summer and spring
The love that outgrew her hatred
Forever will be