2020 Cotton Alley Writers' Review

Page 6



Melting by Julia Breitkreutz

Her mother scrutinized the contents of the fridge, throwing away the package of sliced ham speckled in mold and scanning expiration dates on yogurt cups. Meanwhile, Martha sifted through the mail that lay scattered on their small kitchen table. Red, angry letters printed across the folded-up catalog for Goodman’s Furniture declaring EVERYTHING MUST GO, a warning from Real Simple magazine informing her mother that her six-month subscription would be ending soon. Looming amongst the flashy advertisements and coupon deals, the formal white envelopes of the hospital bills grabbed Martha’s attention. “He got into the ice cream again?” she asked Martha as she held up a carton of mint chocolate chip, the lid missing from it and the sides bent inwards, as if someone had tried to squeeze out the contents. “I guess so,” Martha replied, organizing the mail into three neat piles in front of her — urgent, semi-urgent, and junk. Everything in her life had turned into neat stacks. The laundry in the hallway, the notes on her desk, the wrinkled bills in her top dresser drawer, the dishes in the sink. They never seemed to shrink or grow taller, but rather stood stagnant, taunting Martha. “You have to keep a better eye on him, Mar. The doctor said we need to wean him off the sugary food.” She went to the sink and rinsed out the sad remains of the carton. “Okay,” Martha said. “And where the hell are all the bowls?” Her mother searched the cheap, wood-laminate kitchen cabinets in a frenzied manner, taking out the plastic plates and cups, determined to find bowls that weren’t there. “Mama.” Martha got up and approached her mother. She placed her hands on her bony shoulders, hidden beneath the green sweater, and pulled her away from the cabinets. “The bowls are in G’s room. He has been taking them, okay? I’ll grab them later.” She stared at her mother, who had her wet hair wrapped up in a faded purple towel. Underneath the harsh fluorescent light of the kitchen and with her face clean of makeup so early in the morning — her thinning eyebrows almost white above her sunken eyes — Martha tried to recall a time when her mother had not been in a hurry. In the creases of her mother’s pale skin, Martha saw the worries of the past few years accumulated and wished she could wipe them all away. A door creaked open and the slow shuffling of slippers making their way across the hallway carpet followed. Martha peeled her hands away from her mother’s shoulders and reached for the coffee pot on the counter. She rinsed it out with warm water as her mother ventured into the dimly lit hallway. “Morning, Dad. Mar is making you some coffee now. Doesn’t that sound good?” her mother said in a low, steady voice. Martha measured out the coffee grounds, keeping her eyes


Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.