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Wendy BooydeGraaff

Saturday Mornings‌

Mother and Son by Niko Pirosmani

The thump awakens her. She rolls and covers her head with her pillow. She hears the flush through thin walls, the clatter of the cup falling to the ground, the self-told “uh-oh” escaping his small perfect pink lips. She sees it, his little behind sticking out of the cabinet, emerging with a rag in his hands, the inexpert sopping of the liquid on the floor, the slurp of the sink as it accepts the sop.

Her body is heavy, the mattress accepting. The body beside her breathes deeply as if in sleep or feigning sleep. She nudges his calf and it falls heavily back into place, unperturbed. There were promises, a brave new world of equality and shared tasks spoken into the charter of their partnership. But ancestry repeats itself.

When she shuffles into the kitchen, his small self holds the orange bowl against his striped pajamas, the orange of it strangely oversized in his hands, the bowl overflowing with flakes of cereal, tiptoes straining before the open fridge, open fingers grasping at the bottom of the milk jug. She pulls the jug out just enough. It rests on his finger tips, wobbles. She steadies the jug, does not take it from him. They walk to the counter in tandem, cereal crinkling against his chest, milk balanced between them, his hand underneath, tip-top fingertips dancing along the pressure of the jug and her hand, steady on the handle, bearing the weight.

He climbs on the counter, he tips the jug against the counter-balance she offers, pours the shaky line of milk, releases the jug with a soft thwack and misty spray. He smiles up at her as if to say “See? I can do it.” He crunches through his breakfast, his eyes bright as the rising sun, touching the trees, the rooftops, their faces with rosy glow. The day before him is endless, a recipe of swings and crafts and chasing the neighbour’s cat. His excitement sears against memories of her own young Saturday mornings rife with cartoons and whisper playing and sugared cereal with milk.

She brews the coffee, fries the eggs and the last of the potatoes. Her husband appears as if drawn by the magic scent of breakfast wafting down the hallway. He greets his son, and her too, and the two of them eat and plan and do and talk and command without words. She scrubs and she tidies and she shops and she stacks and the morning is not over, it is far from over, and she stares at the bed she has made and wonders why the tunnel of it looks like the best place in the world when she has so much more to do, they have so many more places to go.

About the writer:
Wendy BooydeGraaff’s short fiction, poems, and essays have been included in X-R-A-Y, Brink, phoebe, Blue Earth Review, and elsewhere. Born and raised in Ontario, Canada, she now lives in Michigan, United States.

Image: Mother and Son by Niko Pirosmani (1862-1918). Oil on cloth. 29.5 x 21.8 inches. After 1899 and before 1918. Public domain.

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