She picked up her pen and wrote a note. Then she walked over to the refrigerator and stuck it on its door with a cat-shaped magnet. She walked back to the table and drained the last drops of milk from her huge Garfield mug. Just as she was putting her lunch into her big Minnie mouse shaped backpack, the mother came downstairs. “Looks like you’re ready for school. Bye.” She watched her groggy, mother with a hangover, open the refrigerator. The note slipped off and found a place on the floor.
Coffee mugs decorated her desk. Two of them were half-full. The other three were empty, without a single stain on them. A spent pen lay on her pad, completely exhausted from the effort of creating new plots and characters. Her ink-stained fingers were doing their happy dance on the keyboard, setting the rhythm for a romance novel. Wild, wavy hair, twisted in a large bun, she looked her part. Even the muse looked busy as he licked his paws with concentration.
“Your father and I still love you,” his mother spoke like a robot. His father looked at him with uncried tears that threatened to come out. “Why, mom,” he asked. She gave some scripted reply about people growing apart with time. But he wasn’t stupid. He was 12 years old. He had seen it all. From the mean words exchanged to the man who kept on coming over and who patted his cheek in that annoying way. He had heard it all too; from the whispered phone conversations to the sound of his parents’ bedroom door locking in haste. He looked at them with dry eyes and asked, “So which one of you gets to keep me?”
The book rested on her lap while she closed her wet eyes. She let the memories flood her for five minutes, knowing that there was no way to fight them. Her hands gripped the book tightly, knowing the bond was too strong to ignore. She lifted the soft cover one more time, turning to her page. On page 12, Natalie had seemed like a ditzy drama queen – the kind of girl she avoided. By page 50, Natalie seemed more and more like her. Now on page 100, she realised, “This is me.”
He stirred and stirred until his wrist felt exhausted. His palm looked purple from the tight grip. The batter was ready for the oven. But he saw a lump. He hated lumps. Lumps reminded him of his mother. They created a volcano of rage inside of him. He stirred and stirred some more. The lump was gone after thirty minutes of painful movement. He wished that her lump had been so easy to destroy.