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Feet on bricks that don’t give, hand on door that won’t open without resistance. No peace, no love, no freedom, just him, them, their schedule, their wants, and needs. “Don’t contact me, I have boundaries. You don’t have boundaries.” So silence between mother and son stands as dividing sentry that says do not cross this line again. They were friends once, mother and son, but no more. Single mother with a paycheck son called mom so the two became one as often happens when there is no relief from one another. Boundaries are a new thing to the boundary-less, the used and owned mother so used to selfless serving that she didn’t know that she could state a need and have it heard.

In the beginning, she had said, “no marriage, no children, no houses, no home, I want the world.” And the man, the boy’s father had said, “marriage, children, homes, the world is mine, and you will serve me as I climb vast glittering corporate towers, and fly in jets to all the places you have spoken of seeing, but I’ll go without you.” So the mother waited, grew to grieving for her life, for her future, for the love she sought but did not find, and the child grew and learned to hate her.

The husband grew as well, he grew old, he found no joy in wife or child so he grew busy, sedentary, gray in hair and skin until he was old, old, before 50. The wife watched, trapped in the poverty of marriage where the man holds the cash and pinches the budget and ignores the wife who still serves the boy who always needs but now hates and she is, is what, a ghost in the wake of her youth standing in a kitchen with no one to cook for, mocked for her table cloths too rich, too fine, for saying silverware when she’s meant to say flatware, derided because once she had wished for so much more.

She’d been in college before the man came. But now her hair is gray, her mind slowed by the endless repetition of mother goose, Dr. Seuss, all those cats in their hats, all those endless rhymes, rhyming nothings, so good for the boy, so bad for her who’s mind had wished to wander, but now just wanders, lost over shopping lists, birthday gifts, and the other sundry of simple nothings that weaken the brain and kill the soul. If she got in the car, where would she go? If she made camp under a bridge who would miss her? A cloud breaks and for one brief moment the shy Seattle sun peaks through filling her eyes with light that teases but will not last.

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