Nothing. That's what Id be without you, Mom.
A Mothers Day card I never sent, dozens of them, magnetized, sticking to the fireplace screen. Did she remember, in the morning, that she wrote them herself? Imagine she didnt. Imagine they appeared like those shoes made by elves. I recognized her handwriting scratched onto the cards, but she wouldnt.
My sister takes each one down, like leaves from a tree. She reads them aloud in a voice of eulogies. She lets them fall into a pile. Maybe we will jump into it, like kids.
Nice is all my sister says. I will never know if she knows who wrote them. Shes on her way back to Portland. It might be the last I see of her.
Alone in my moms apartment, I water the brown plants, feed the floating fish. I search the house for the hidden pill bottles and toss them into the pile with the cards. I look through pictures of my childhood, huddled against her, a puppy. I sometimes think about getting a single wish and using it to go back to that kid and tell him what I know now. He asks me how I got back to him, and I tell him about that one wish, and he asks me why I didnt use it to save her.
I tell him I wanted to, but I wasnt certain it would work and I didnt want to waste it.
He tells me its selfish, to use it on myself.
He has his mothers dimple (left cheek), her freckled shoulders, her eyes that jump from object to object. He hates me, for my disinterest, and it is useless to explain how, without such distance, the world wouldve broken his heart unimaginable times.
I chose to save you, I tell him, as if it werent like saying it to myself.