I dress mama up in drag and put her hair in a wrap. She looks beautiful smoking her marlborough gold backwards in the garden. A real vision. I tape the skin on her forehead back, tightening up her face. She looks 24, max. Earlier in the day she says she is jealous of my relationship with sex. How casually I have it. How little I mind when I am not in love. I nod and tell her sometimes I feel sneaky, getting so close to people when maybe I don’t deserve it. She laughs. We are taking a road trip together to an empty town, to find a very special face cream.
Back home we make dinner. A raw chicken placed on each of our plates, a twig of rosemary set atop. A cup of tea. A glass of cranberry juice. Mints and another marlborough gold smoked backwards to finish the meal. Mama and I are the best cooks in the town and everyone agrees.
Mama’s been alone since Papa and her split. I remember it still, the year of mangoe eating in the orange room. She says I lived mostly off of fish sticks when I was 3 because she wasn’t sure how to cook for me yet. It’s easy to hate the father but we did not. I told her : 6 weeks and they’d be back in love! He came over weekly to kill the centipedes in my bedroom and to flush them down the toilet. Can’t hate anyone when they still do that for you. I was wrong about the 6 weeks though. Sometimes after dinners together they kiss goodbye on the lips and my father smiles in a way which makes me happy. Soft.
Mama’s head wrap is a thin veil with purple polka dots on it. Her lips are drawn on small but they smudge bigger as she eats her dinner. By the time there are only chicken bones on her plate her mouth takes up most of her face. A real vision!
We eat by purple candlelight. My nails looks like thinly sliced radishes. On the television behind us plays a documentary about 9/11. We all sing along to the commercial jingles when they come on. A small comfort.