If you don’t yet know, Electric Literature is doing a pretty awesome thing. They want to support and increase awareness of great writers, journals, and presses, and so: every week they’ll publish a great story by a great writer at http://recommendedreading.tumblr.com/.
This week’s story is by the wonderful Ben Marcus, and it’s called “Watching Mysteries with My Mother.” As someone who’s growing older, watching my parents grow older still, this fearful and loving meditation on a parent’s eventual imagined demise struck a deep and painful chord of recognition with me. Like so:
I did it to her as a child, too. I said good-bye and went to school. I said good-bye and went to camp. I said good-bye on a Saturday morning and who knows when I came home. When I did this, I left my mother dying. In doorways, in kitchens, in living rooms, on lawns. Sometimes even when she was sick with a cold in bed, I said good-bye from the bottom of the stairs, just as her chances of dying had crested to an all-time high. I said good-bye and went to college, when she was even more likely to die. And when I came home to visit, it wasn’t long before I departed again, leaving her to die. Just as tonight, after watching a mystery on PBS, I said goodnight to my mother and left her at home to die.
We speak of having one foot in the grave, but we do not speak of having both feet and both legs and then one’s entire torso, arms, and head in the grave, inside a coffin, which is covered in dirt, upon which is planted a pretty little stone.
Go here to read the whole thing. And check out the beautiful single sentence animation, too.