She is always unhappy. Sometimes it seems to me like she only speaks to them to tell them to shut up. Or else to threaten to send them to bed because they got in the way. She never reads to them. She never listens to them about the day they had at school.

And it’s beginning to show.

She is angry at them. Always she is angry. I can never figure out why she is angry. I have the interesting position here, as someone who can sit on the outside and just look in. I don’t have to know the details. I don’t have to worry about them getting to bed or about getting them dressed and bathed. I can just sit there and watch them. They don’t pay me any mind, more often than not. I can watch them being girls. When she’s not around that’s what they are. Just little girls. I watch them playing and start to smile. I used to be like that. Until they make too much noise and it all starts all over again. You had better...!!!!

The older one can’t stop talking. No matter what happens, if there’s anyone in the room, she is shining and dancing and running and screaming. She has no patience and no sense of quiet. Look at me look at me look at MEEEEEEE.... Please. Somebody!... Somebody?.... Please?... Look at me?

Won’t anyone play with me?

The little one can’t start listening. The television’s gotten into her brain and set down its roots. She can’t seem to shake it. Always, always her eyes are jumping to something new. Something different. Her sentences stop halfway through. She’s diverted. Her eyes keep on glancing. I’m just I’m just What are you just doing? I’m just I’m just...


Always she is angry. I have reduced it down to maybe she’s just angry that they came along when they did. That now she’s stuck in this house, cold and uninterested, with fat beginning to creep up near her hips and back under her chin, in places she never expected. That she can’t go out. That she can’t meet a guy. That she can’t be a girl anymore.

So she won’t let them either.

Mommy never follows through with her punishments, though. She’s so busy she turns away before she’s done with the threatening. The girls have learned to stall just long enough for her to turn around. They know then they can do whatever they want. I wonder if they’re like me. If they wonder if she loves her furniture more than them. They’re probably too young for that stuff, though.

For now.

She’s twenty-eight years old and she’s trapped. She wants to do what she wants to do. That’s the one thing – the everything she’s never gotten to do. From her mother’s house to her ex-husband’s house, to this, finally her own house. But they run it. The two little daughters she loves so much, but only when they’re not around. When they are, there’s always something she wants to do. And they have never, ever let her.

So she tells them to shut up.

She tells them to go to bed so she can watch TV.

She forgets to make them dinner.

She sits in front of the computer and dreams of a better way, and she never, ever notices that they’re screaming for her when they’re screaming. That they’re lonely in ways I wish children would never have to be.

Somehow they’re always in the way for her. And she doesn’t know yet that the ways they are in the way are all the ways she will miss them when they’re gone.

She puts in so much effort behind their backs with amazing Halloween costumes and beautiful dresses and food on the table even though she’s barely getting by when you look at it. She tells them she loves them every day, and I thought that was amazing at first. But kids learn from actions, and not from words. If she doesn’t want to listen to them now, they’ll shut up. I know I did. They’ll shut up, and she’ll be so so sorry when they do. Because I doubt they’re going to start talking again when she does want to know. When she wants to know if they’re having sex or if they’re smoking pot in their rooms at night, or why they’re grades aren’t what she expects them to be.

I wonder what they’ll think of their mommy someday. And I think I know. All girls do have to grow up.

They’ll grow up to hate her too.

And does she deserve it?

No, not that much. She hasn’t stolen years from them yet, after all.

Oh, no.

She’s only stolen their mother.

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