Home | Current Issue | Submissions | Masthead | About Us | Archive
Back to Current Issue
Stuffed Animal Suicide Tea Party
My father was a traveling sports writer and didn’t make very much money. I couldn’t knock my dad for taking so much work. The traveling part is what kept him away from my mother, and divorcing her was a risk even I wouldn’t be willing to take. I came to understand at an early age that how I learned to tie my shoes wasn’t going to be the only thing I would have to do on my own. My mother called these neglectful acts “social experiments.”
“But Mom, how are they social if I am doing the experiments alone?” I turned my head to the side looking up at her with eyes of very limited innocence left.
“Well it’s social because you’re…using society as your compass but your integrity to make the end decision.”
“Like telling on Melissa when she eats her hair at nap time?” I blurted out, still following each word she spoke with a plan for a full sentence.
“No, like deciding to take a taxi home instead of getting a ride from a nice-smelling young man when his wife is not around, or finding a way to get something for free before you try and steal it.”
From the beginning I knew I was screwed. My parents have spoken to me like an adult since the age of four. My grandfather died before I was born and left my mother a very large inheritance. My father always told me that before my mom got the money, she was just a quiet southern belle who wasn’t very interested in material things. The mother I came to know walked around our house like it was a palace and smoked cigarettes from a long, jewel-covered, formal cigarette holder. She also never left her bedroom without a fur coat on, even in the summer. My father says my mother was born in Alabama and, before the money, used to have a soft southern drawl. The mother I came to know had some kind of European accent with no specific origin. I think she just takes every haughty accent she had ever heard in the movies and mixes them all together to make her own. I think my mother believes she looks like the late princess Diana and sounds like Mary Poppins. To me she looks like Cruella DeVille on crack and sounds like Julia Child. When my mother bought me a golden retriever puppy for my seventh birthday, I thought my loneliness would disappear. Six weeks later I came home from school and couldn’t find my new best friend.
“Uh, mom?” I said, closing my eyes as tight as they could shut.
“Where’s the dog?” I asked her, holding my breath.
“Well I am sorry plum-cake, but that little beast was frolicking with my Begonia bush. I sent the dog away to run around on a farm in the country.” My mom smiled at me, revealing her blindingly over-bleached teeth and brought a small cup to her mouth while pretending to sip. She put the cup down and it clanked on the gleaming silver tray below it.
“Would you like some tea dear?” I moved toward her and looked down to see my disappointed reflection bounce off the base of the shiny teacup set.
“No thanks. I’ll pass,” I said too loud.
“Well, I hope you like the tea set I just got you as a new gift to replace that varmint who eats flowers.”
I smiled with my teeth clenched and grabbed the cold silver handles on either side of the tray. I lugged it all the way upstairs, then into my room and placed it on my small pink table. I set the table by placing a tea cup in front of each chair and stood up to marvel at the ridiculousness of the situation.
When I heard the garage door open, I knew that was my mother’s way of telling me she was leaving.
Sometimes I would get lucky enough to run after her before she sped off, but I stopped because she would pretend to not see me anyway. I ran downstairs to the hallway closet where my Dad kept his clothes. I stood on my tippy toes to unhook some of his ties and ran back into my room. I took five of my least favorite stuffed animals and tied their necks to the back of each pink chair, propping them up into a sitting position. I stood back and looked at my stuffed animal suicide tea party. I left them there for three months before my Mom noticed.
Back to Current Issue
Painting: Marinna Matta, Eagles Flight, 2012, mixed media
Copyright © 2012 | The Barker’s Voice: A Journal of Arts and Letters
9191 Barker Cypress | CASA 225K| Cypress, TX 77433