Happy Mother's Day!
As we both have recent books with 'mother' in the title, my friend Tania Hershman and I have decided to feature each other on our blogs for Mother's Day. Tania's collection of short-short fictions is called My Mother Was an Upright Piano and it is a startling, inventive, wonderful read. Writer Aimee Bender has said of it: 'Funny, fresh, lyrical. These stories are like colorful glass lozenges holding the substance of our everyday lives, sparkled up by the unusual and wondrous.'
Learn more about Tania's book here and enjoy the story below, 'The Lion and the Meteorite Can Never Touch You', from the collection. Tania's blogs at Tania Writes:
The Lion and the Meteorite Can Never Touch You
by Tania Hershman
I'll keep you safe, my love, my baby, she whispered into the child's ear, I will never leave you, and the child took it for granted that this was how it would always be. The child grew taller, cleverer, bolder, knowing always that her mother was beside her, ready to throw herself between her daughter and the lion waiting to pounce, the car swerving from its path, the meteorite on its way earthwards. The mother, for her part, did everything her strength allowed to protect the child from any hint of the world as it really is. She sheltered her daughter from tales of rape, mutilation, torture, disease, war and famine. They had no television, the radio was rarely switched on, the atmosphere was peaceful, joyous. The daughter heard nothing of the horrors that we conjure up against one another; she basked in her mother's sun and never doubted her own power.
When they discovered the lump, the mother whispered in her ear as the daughter sat in her hospital bed: You'll be fine, nothing can touch you. The daughter believed her, heard the mother's words in her ear as the anaesthetic slid into her veins. When they opened her up and discovered a body with cancer colouring every organ, reaching its insidious fingers into each crevice, encouraging every cell to mutiny, the mother broke down. Doubled over in pain, she screamed at the doctors, losing her sanity because she too had believed what she had whispered.
Come, come, said the daughter, helping her mother into the chair beside her bed. I'm alright, I don't mind it. She felt nothing, cocooned by the medication. But her mother couldn't accept. Her own pains grew stronger and stronger, until she was given her own bed in another ward. The daughter, her suffering body allowing her only to slowly limp along corridors, sat beside her mother, whose pale face was fading with the hours. Thank you, the daughter said into her mother's ear. I'm ready for this. I'm ready for anything. And she watched as her mother broke her promise and left this world. I'm alone now, the daughter whispered to herself, and she closed her eyes and let the disease take hold of her until she, too, slipped away.