From tumblr

From tumblr Ah yeah. This will be laughs a minute. I think this is a Homestuck fanart but it was inspiring all the same.

Another short story, courtesy of Xewleer. I swear, if I ever find someone plagiarizing me I will skin them and wear them like a three piece suit. It’s for class, but I was pretty proud of it.

High Functionary

By Xewleer

When my father died, my mother tried to kill herself. She couldn’t put a gun to her head and blow her pickled brains out, or hang herself like the greek noble women or take poison and array herself like the ancient pagan queens before Christendom. All she could do was drink alcohol. It was a sin to kill yourself, and a worse sin for a mother to abandon her young. For that reason she stayed alive.

My father left two legacies, his grave and his house. The grave is square, grey and unornamented. My mother would never go on a sunny day. She always put an empty bottle of gin on the flat top. She honored some sort of ancient ritual in this way, but I think that it would have worked better if she poured some of it to the buried corpse or tombstone, instead of drinking it. I could see my face reflected on the polished surface, all the soft curves of a child, next to my mothers more angular features. Any clear day, the sun would have blotted out the reflections with glare. I think my mother chose cloudy days to force us to face our mortality. I never hated my mother more than in those moments. I memorized every letter of his epitaph. Darius Murmad. Loving Son of Shirin and Cyril, husband of Bonnie and father of Shirin Barbara. My he rest in peace. They never put a date on it. Why didn’t they put a date on it?

The house, or rather, the former apartment building, was home to us. It rose, dominating my sight from blocks away. The man who built it is long dead and forgotten. Even the name, Hatfield Apartments has no meaning to the meaning Mexicans or lower class not-English. No one ever rented rooms, anyway. My mother refused anyone willing to buy or rent. She payed the property taxes, like with her drinking, with what dividends collected from past investments and the pension for the family of slain cops.

I’m told I’m the spitting image of my mother, but for my hazel eyes, the hallmark of my father. I kept my blond hair short in a pageboy style and avoid the ornamentation of my mother, who fancied heavy golden baubles with the symbols of ancient dead gods upon them. I dressed for modesty and practicality, almost as my mother did, but dresses and skirts instead of my father’s pants. I enjoyed purples and other rich colors.

    These colors added stability and comfort. The former apartment building we inhabited lined itself with delusions of grandeur. The rooms were dark, but always contrasted by the flowing lights of the sun and too large moon. I don’t remember fearing, bar once or twice, the creaks of the stairs or the thunder or the rattling of wood. The wooden stairs leading from the central foyer were oldest of all, and to walk on them was to run on a xylophone. I explored more than my mother and maybe even my father, at the time, and I could smell the ancientness seeped into the core of the monolithic apartment. The foundation marked with dates differentiating by centuries.  I wondered what dark cults and rituals had taken place here.

Sometimes, I’d leave my bed at the middle of the night. I’d avoid my mother and pad about, searching for hidden things or things nearly forgotten by all who made them. My first expedition uncovered newspapers that disintegrated at the touch. My fourth discovery was a gold coin with some indian woman and the usual ‘E Plurbus Unum’ embossed on the metal. It was a beautiful thing I later traded for a large handful of golden plastic coin baubles. These had the face of some dead Roman person.

When I showed them to my mother, she pronounced them denarii and that we were now rich patricians of a bygone golden age. She produced togas from bedsheets, couches to lay upon and food, which we ate lounging like the ancients. I drank grape juice and my mother imbibed Italian wine. She ended up vomiting and I held her golden hair away from her mouth. Between heaves she might have had the presence of mind to wrap one of her wiry strong arms around me, comforting to the both of us. Sometimes she murmured sweet nothings to me that did not comfort.

    She always called me “Sweety.” I have never known why. One time, during my Middle School years, she said my name was Sweety Murmad. I was called Sweety by everyone for the rest of my Middle School time. My name is Shirin Barbara Murmad, after my grandmothers. That’s who I am. I am not sweet.

    One of my earliest memories, not my happiest, I cannot judge them that way, was of her and father -he was always ‘father’- looking happy. I had stuffed animals, enough to pile up and sleep in and all whiffy for they were second-hand. She had a glass of something golden in her hand, smiling broadly and beatifically. My father roughed me with one of the stuffed animals because he thought it funny that I fought it. A purple bear became my companion and greatest foe. They kissed as I ate cake, stuffing great gobbets of the sickly sweet confectionary into my mouth with the wild abandon of a hedonist.
Kind smiles and gleaming, mirthful eyes surrounded my life then. They were both very intelligent and I learnt to speak quickly and speak well from their examples. My mother was and still is blonde, with slight streaks of gray interspersed and untouched. My father had jet black hair and a strong jawline he jutted at me when we play-argued. He was too pale, near white, for an arabian, proudly descended of the ancient Medes and Persians of Biblical times. But his hazel eyes were piercing, like eagles. He said we were from the blood of Persia’s martial nobility. I had no idea what he meant, then.
My mother had beautiful hair. Each strand straight with a round curl at the end. She never did much to it and would have me cut it, using a cleaned waste basket bigger than her head to guide me. Every time I would take the hair and play with it, watching it glint in the sunlight. It was shiny even after the cutting, when I would assume it would be dulled. I thought it was gold thread, like the story from Rumplestiltskin.
I realize that this must seem like some sort of fairy tale or falsehood. My mother was a high-functioning drunk. That is all. I haven’t mentioned the numerous times I covered her with a blanket, or set her clothes so that she was at least a little modest. She never partied with others, sure, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t spend entire nights at the foot of her bed crying until she blinded her eyes with blood, drunk beyond functioning. Drunk beyond human tolerance.
I guess I just wanted to avoid saying it. My mother was inhuman. She shared no humanistic trait with other females, other people or even me. I assumed that she shut down every time I left for school, as I’d find her in the same place I’d left her, or finished some dinner for me and passed out in an easy chair. Fierce and brief bursts of activity in between long periods of drunken inaction or misapplied action.
Mono from a misdrunk drink once put me under for several weeks, causing me to stay home. I never missed school if I could at least walk. I discovered things about her. First, that she and a punching bag had a long term blood feud going. Secondly, my mother knew at least three martial arts. Thirdly, that my mother was once a cop, with Father, before she had me. She quit to raise me. I never learned any other detail.
For years I hated her old friends, ignoring my plight. They never ignored me, and I’d make comments. “I’m so glad you gave me these gifts.” Passive-agressive wordplay meant to wound my mother. But the simple, fat mothers, overcome by the emotional fact that I was living with a drunk mother, did not notice, but I am sure my mother did. She noticed everything, but it was through a bottle binocular. Distorted, I’m sure, by whatever poison was flowing through her veins.
For Christmas, I spent time by myself with my books. Many, many books piled up on every subject I cared about and many my mother forced me to care about. Her clumsy attempt to push me to academia did little but teach me to hate Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and that damn German Hegel when I became a teenager.

“No- no one ever got anywhere not knowing thinking. No one.” When I told her I hated them, she glared at me and took away all my books until I read Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and that damn German Hegel and talked at her about theology, the separation of grace and nature and it’s relation to the Renaissance era man, and the black hole of German Philosophy and the cares of this world. I enjoyed a gothy ‘stoic’ phase in my teen years. Marcus Aurelius is a hell of a drug.

    Church was also a sore subject for me. She’d take me every Sunday morning to learn ‘Religioin’ and ensure my soul survived either death or the rapture. Whether she would isn’t answered. She never crossed the threshold. She sat outside in the patio/porch under the ornate roof that too proudly bore the name of a Baptist Church. Never went in. Cops went to that church, and there was a hallway for the pictures of murdered cops. My father was there and every time I went to the fourth floor Sunday School with the fattest and pious mother that I ever knew. She called me ‘Sweety’ like my mother. I was glad to graduate out of her class.
The pastor never gave up trying ploys to get her in, food, drink and entertainments, but deaf ears met him no further than the doorway and she refused to budge. So he left her there week to month to year to a decade and a half, speaking to her when he could. I think he loved her in a tragic way, as he never married. He was nice looking too, but I think he would interfere with my mother’s drinking habits. Too afraid of the devil’s liquid to even use cooking wine.

One day in winter I came out and she was taking up her usual spot. Blond hair and eyes downcast. Demure, if there was no sorrow. I thought she had frozen, but no luck, she meditated trancelike. I stood looking down at her roused and took us home to whatever edible abomination she called food. She could cook, once.

    My father died at the hands of a common crook. Some new-blood gang member looked to make it big. That criminal scum died later, in a police shootout. Vendettas are powerful things. Whatever happened to him, and the actions that my father took during his short life allowed us a modicum of protection from gang members and evil-doers.
The protection, I’ve learned, only extended as far as the presence of my mother or the boundaries of the decrepit land we owned. Once, I strayed off our land and out of her sight and was pulled back by a panting and wide-eyed mother. There was nothing to threaten me in sight. No stranger offered me blue candy, no foaming dog, yet my mother’s eyes were those of intense fear. Even drunk, she could rely on the primal instincts, magnified as they were, as to my treatment. Once she licked a scraped knee after kissing it.
I never learned, however, where she got all the alcohol. A little she distilled herself, using a combination of fruity things I’ve never been able to recreate herself. She would disappear for less than an hour and show up later with another set of vodkas, Buds or ciders. Around summer, she’d get whiskey. Most days, she’d have a book or two with her to give me. One time I got a set of C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy, covers slathered in cheap, somehow grape-juice purple bourbon.
Books remain my passion. They do not betray you, and you learn from them. I went to the college for a degree. I educated myself through books. I kept my sanity through books. I discovered worlds through books. I understood myself through the books. I understood my mother through my books. For all my complaints, I could not narrate this without insights into humanity’s soul, from Thomas Aquinas, Augustine and that damn German, Hegel. There are things you cannot be explained from any other source but those who thought it first.

I pity her as much as I now understand her, as much as I hated her. I’ve had friends whose parents have been drunks and hated the chains that bound them, but I do not fall under that camp. For all the alcohol she drank, I’m told it should have killed her about two years after father died, she never hated me. No hatred in her body for me, or my father, just despair. My attitude towards her prevented me from screwing up my life like she did. No social worker ever came. I think it was because I had no bruises to show, or I was forgotten. Could have been that her ‘well-meaning’ old cop friends made sure that no social worker heard my case.

My arena was school. Didn’t matter whether grade, middle or high school, I was known as the drunk widow’s daughter and somehow that hurt worse than the girl with a drunk dad felt. It was worse than when they called me a mongrel Arabian. I am a Medo-Persian. What I learned from books I applied on the playground, until I became something a little more than myself. I became a bully, I suppose, as the school systems now count it. I do not count myself a bully though, I beat physically and abused mentally the scoffers and degraders because the teachers never knew what they said. My mother knew, pickled as she was. That was one of the moments of change between me and her. She stood up to me once, even as both the principal and the teacher began yelling at me. I gave her a hug afterwards, but despised her the next day.

The three schools mimicked each other to the unremarkable beige paint on the walls. The presidents all stared down, judging me, and larger than life from those unremarkable walls. I learned geography from a giant map that dominated my seventh grade history class’ left wall. I dictated from Shakespeare in three schools and three different stages to the Stanley Kubrick-esque stares of my classmates. I defied my ‘drunkard’s fate’ as they called it. I became my own person there, but for the shackles of my mother.

Shackles? No matter how I twist it in my head, I cannot turn it any other way. Shackled to her and the apartment building and everything else there in. Eventually, the purples and the dark colors became oppressive rather than mysterious. The out of place golden ornateness in a building in a run down neighborhood transformed from ancient glory to decorative worthlessness. I grew. I became worldly-wise, of sorts. I hated.

Nightmares force us to face fears we are not ready to face. I always wondered what my mother’s nightmares were made of. I wondered what thoughts she kept down. Sorrow? Certainly. Terror? Perhaps. I dreamed of the stories in my books and a father who died to pave the way for a petty crook. Gunshots were the stuff of my nightmares. I was no Batman or Spiderman, I was a child with the mind of a child. A teenager with the mind of a teenager. I dreamed up terrible things to commit on my mother.

Gunshots rang out on a hot day in summer. My mother wrapped my lanky sixteen year old body and dragged me to the center of the house and covered me with her too thin willowy form. The gunshots were like thunder. Two gangs fighting over a scrap of territory, my father’s legend forgotten after a decade. They forgot why the older members never came close to my home, what terror they had for murdered cop Darius Murmad. My mother growled with rage. Windows shattered, the phone was in the foyer, which was open to the hail of bullets being exchanged, thanks to the wooden walls.

There were bangs on the front door. We were in a coat closet. There hadn’t been any coats in there for years. My mother and I just used a hat rack. Dust was everywhere and I could not stop sneezing. I heard my mother breath, ragged. I felt the bones of her ribs on my back and I wondered how thin she was. Her muscles manifested as so many whipcords. She smelled of alcohol, whiskey. I suppose it was a saving grace that she had dropped her bottle in her haste, and that she had just begun drinking, having beat the loyal punching bag into submission and whipping up a ‘powerful thirst’. I tried to push her away, but I couldn’t do so much as shift her. I tried to pinch her bare and over-large feet. The alcohol smell was overpowering and I did not want to be touched, especially by her.

We heard the door splinter as the pounding redoubled. The door leaned inward as the wood holding the locks together snapped. The screech caused me to scream without warning. My mother let go and moved to the front door.

“What are you doing!? Don’t you know who’s house this is!? Who slaughtered the Green Warriors and the Greys?” Even after several gulps of whiskey, no words slurred. The answer was laughter. I stuck my head out. She berated a gigantic Skinhead further. Looking for all the world like he stepped out of a John Carpenter film or a post-apocalyptic wasteland, he must have stood seven feet high with a blood red mohawk adding a foot again. He smirked at her. His friends, however, held looks of confusion on their faces. I saw one bearded silverback sneaked his way out the door. The boss held a machine pistol, and dripped with blood I knew was not his own. A man like these had killed my father. I whimpered, but was frozen in place by his sudden stare.

    “Girl of Darius over there, and you’re his wife.” He knew and didn’t care He gulped air. He spent far too much air talking, and his tattooed cheeks billowed with each word. “What a prize. Something once.” He pointed his gun at my mother, not an inch from her head. “Nothing now. But future tramps.” He thought himself witty. My mother struck like a cobra.
In the speed it took the gang leader to blink, she had struck his throat, crushing his Adam’s Apple like a grape. She pulled a letter opener from a pocket in her pants and struck another in the eye. A skinhead with giant swastika’s adorning his chest opened fire. He shot too slowly and killed a companion with a stray shot. I felt a bullet pass a foot away, burying itself into the floor. He died with a bare heel striking the nose, driving the bone into the brain with the sickest, fleshiest crunch I ever heard. More gunfire, but one found his gun empty before my mother crammed into his mouth the clip she took from his gun, choking him. Another tried to run, but was caught by a bullet from the outside.
The rival gang, a black gang with violet colors, stormed in. They spent a second assessing the situation while my mother threw herself on them. Gunfire erupted. Unlike the Skinheads, who used blunt objects and pistols, the black gang with violet colors had automatic weapons, and were too smart to fire at each other. She moved like fire, one to another. Some found themselves unloading their own weapons into their legs while others spat blood and spilled guts. I heard police sirens over the banging of the guns discharging their terrible payloads. I could look no longer and hid in the closet. It was a miracle I was not touched by the bullets.
Inside the house, the roars of the guns ceased and the screams died down. I heard gunfire outside, though, the police dealing with those who could not face death. I crawled out. “Mom?” I shook like a leaf in a storm. I smelled urine. I smelled death. I saw carnage. I saw a warzone. I knew that I would never doubt any story my mother told again. I would not mock her for punishing her punching bag. I would be nice to her.
“Mom?”
I heard a grunt, and a limp body shifted. “Here, sweety.” My mother was lying on the floor, three bullet wounds to the side of the stomach. I could tell they weren’t lodged in the heart, but I could not face the thought of her bleeding out. “Get me that bottle, will you?” She pointed at an intact bottle inhabiting a sconce behind a pillar. Every other bottle I could see was shattered. I got it for her. “Hold my hand.” She took some drinks. I tried to lift her up, but she pulled down and the terrific strength I never thought she had stopped me. “Floor only thing keeping my insides in.”
Police rushed in, then stopped. I recognized one as a member of my father’s old cadre, the other was new and vomiting. “GET HELP!” I screamed at them. I didn’t mean to. I hated her, didn’t I want her to die? But I couldn’t do anything else. “Help her!” My mother’s old friend began yelling into his radio. The newbie cop collapsed into drive heaves.
“Sweety, look into my eyes.” The words were a command. I did so. I could do nothing else. “I’ve failed you so often, but not this time. Your father died and my heart shattered. But I couldn’t give you up. I was selfish.” I shook my head, trying to hold back tears. Paramedics, already making their way through the corpses, unloaded a gurney and a series of eldritch instruments to keep my mother alive. “But I’m sorry. I’m sorry for it all.”
I couldn’t choke out the words. I had based myself on the hatred of the woman who birthed me. The woman who I thought went through the motions for the assuagement of her conscience. She was taken away, painkillers kicking in as the paramedics took her into the ambulance. I came along. They couldn’t fit me into the ambulance, so the cop that called for help drove me around behind the screaming ambulance.
I cried like a baby, emotionally broken. I couldn’t hold back the terrible thoughts. “You bitch!” My own soul screamed at me. “You’ve been a huge bitch! And she loved you! She’s going to die for you! For your worthless, resentful hide!” I screamed at it to shut up. The older cop thought it only hysterics. I followed my mother into the ER. I waited outside. I prayed to God for the first time in my life. I paced for hours. Then, it was over.
My mother lived. The surgeon fought death with scalpel and thread for longer than he had in his life. And he won. I sat beside my mother and told her I would love her forever. I wanted absolution, from her. I wanted forgiveness. When she awoke, she smiled at me. “Looks like I lived, Sweety.” I begged her mercy, her clemency, and she gave it. She was attached to a morphine drip, but her eyes were unclouded. The fact that she was a high functioning alcoholic worked in her favor. Her lucidity remained with her as we talked.

She told me, for the first time, why she loved my father. “Because he was a paragon. Because he did the right thing. It’s what killed him. But I loved him, so much, because when I looked at him, I saw a bit of Christ, who gave him strength, shine through and it gave me so much strength. Then it was snuffed and I felt the tiniest glimmer in me. I died a little, and I turned to drink, something I already loved, to drown that glimmer. At the same time I was driven to make sure you lived. I think I wanted you to hate me, to punish myself for not being strong enough to stand on my own.”

    I left at eighteen years old and went to college. My mother saw me off and then turned back to drink. Even after the battle with the gangs and rearrangement of a foot of intestine, she never stopped drinking. But I could take it now. I understood her. I loved her. That gave me strength to stand on my own. I loved her, and I strove not to be her. I became balanced. I became an individual, something I think my mother forgot.

I hope you all enjoyed!

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