by Andrea Rinard
Walk past his bedroom door and resist that tentative tap-tap-tap he hates and knows is just a prelude to you walking in regardless if he says “Come in.” He’ll be hunched in his bed. There will be a stack of cups
teetering on his nightstand. The sour stench of piled dirty clothes, unwashed skin, and unrealized potential will be almost more than your mother-heart can stand. The stuffed bunny by his hand where he’s held it to fall asleep for nineteen years will break you in pieces if you let it. Assure yourself that he’ll get up and take a shower as soon as you leave for work.
Don’t text him that part-time job opening you Googled last night when you couldn’t sleep. Don’t call and ask if he submitted his paper online for ENC 1102, the one you “helped” him write. Don’t remind him
that he can’t retake the class if he fails again. Don’t wonder if he’s awake. If he’s up. If he’s showered. If
he’s eaten. Get through your day.
Walk past his bedroom door when you get home from work. You know he’s still in there. There’s no
need to ask in that faux-hopeful voice what he’s accomplished today. You could go in and speak to him
gently. You could put your hand on the shoulder that his weighted blanket has left bare, but your hand
will offend the bird-like bones. It’s the same hand that held his pudgy one when you crossed streets
together, and your words are just words, and nothing is the same and everything is the same. He will
murmur sleepily that he’s just so tired and that he’s not hungry and that he loves you and that he’ll try
harder. You will have to force yourself not to slip under the covers to spoon against the man-child body
that once curled like a shrimp below your breasts.
Try again to convince yourself that there’s nothing you can do. That you’re doing everything you can.
That tomorrow will be better. That you’ll see your son again soon, the one you know is in there, buried
beneath a load you can’t see, can’t understand, can’t lift. Don’t tiptoe across the hall to stare again at the
closed door. Stop crying.
About the Author
Andrea Rinard is a Florida native, long-time high school English teacher, and emerging writer. Two of her life's current luxuries are being a student in the graduate certificate program in creative writing at the University of South Florida and looking forward to participating again in the Yale Writer's Workshop. Her work placed first in the Wingless Dreamer 2019 Writing Contest, and is forthcoming in Crack the Spine and The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature. Andrea is working on her second novel.
From the Editor