Tuesday, 7 April 2009
MOTHER GUY, by Mariel Newley
He will bury his mum in the manure heap. He’s looked at all the
possible places, and this is the best. Horse manure is just shit, even
though it’s got a fancier name. His mother deserves to rot in shit.
Before he buries her - because that’s what you do with dead people,
and because he will kill her - he has to make her.
The things he’ll use are in the house. He goes inside.
The house is turning, ratcheting around, click by click to how it was
when she found it. It smelled of mushrooms. Weird soft white stuff
spilled from the walls, like they were burst teddy-bears. She called
it The Dream House, she worked and worked. For one summer it was new wood, wet paint and the fresh start.
The dirt’s back now, and on the floorboards she cared for, repaired,
she slops food and drink. Drink, mainly. She’s hardened to it this
time. No more peeing herself and sick. Silent bed-bound drinking.
Outside again, he packs her jeans with her t-shirts, puts her legs in
her boots. It’s all her, except the head. The hat stretches round the
football, the knitted hat she wore in winter, when they had the two
horses, when she fed them and brushed them and loved them, because
she’d always wanted horses, because she was fresh-starting.
His mother is made. Flat out in the yard. More realistic than he expected.
He kills her with the biggest kitchen knife, once used to cut the meat
for dream-house stews. Stabs hard through her favourite jumper to her
He spades through the horse-shit, lifts his mother, pats her grave
firm around her rubber-gloved hand, leaves the hand visible. There has
to be something to see, otherwise it would be like nothing’s happened.
He stands. Waits.
It hasn’t made things better.
If the manure shifted, moved, and his mum climbed out, his real mum
with his real mum’s face ... his real mum before it started again, the
coming home late, the staggering and slurring, the throwing up.
If his real mum took him, and the horses, to the beach. To rocket
along and make the sand fly. To ride into the sea; to feel, under him,
swimming. To twist his hands in a salted mane.
If she did come back to life, though, what she’d do is reach for a
bottle. There’s one in the yard. Not an alcohol bottle, but this is
symbols. He puts the bottle in her rubber fingers.
That doesn’t help, either. No. It doesn’t.
He will dig his mother up. He’ll dig her up, pull the knife from her
body, make her alive.
He’ll bury the bottles. They’re what deserve shit burial. The empty
ones, and the full ones. All the bottles.
When the bottles are gone, his mother will get out of bed. She’ll say
she wants to hear the sea. She’ll run down the sand barefoot laughing.
‘Fresh start,’ she’ll say. ‘Fresh start.’