I want to keep this blog alive, so every Saturday evening I’m going to select a prompt from the past week, and publish a post using that prompt.
The prompt I’ve selected this week is:W
The word “excuse” appears in this story, which is too recent for my other blog.
Glenda felt angrier with her daughter than she’d ever felt before.
Angrier than she had ever imagined she could feel.
She was walking home from the train station that winter night with the humiliating phone conversation she’d had that afternoon with the child’s homeroom teacher, Mr. Butch Harrison, echoing and re-echoing in her mind.
“I’m sorry to call you at work, but I really need to discuss Rosella’s behavior with you, and it’s too urgent to wait.”
“What happened, exactly?”
“As you know, I’m Rosella’s English teacher as well as her homeroom teacher, and when she came into class this afternoon, she just started yelling and screaming out of a clear blue sky. Now, such behavior is absolutely
unacceptable in a seventh grader.”
“I quite agree with you on that, Mr. Harrison.”
“Of course I had to punish her, so I had her stay after school and write, ‘I will not yell and scream’ two hundred times.”
“That was a reasonable punishment.”
“Rosella didn’t think so. When I asked her for the lines, she said, ‘Here they are. Go to Hell.’ “
“Well, Mr. Harrison, I appreciate your taking the time to call me. I apologize for my daughter, and I assure you, she will apologize for her behavior tomorrow.”
Glenda wished she could talk to Rosella’s father, but he had died almost three years ago.
She arrived home, unlocked the door, and went inside. Rosella was on the living room couch, watching television.
Somehow, that made Glenda even angrier. This girl had acted inexcusably, and there she sat, calmly watching television.
She turned off the tv.
“I had the most mortifying phone call from Mr. Harrison this afternoon. He told me you started yelling and screaming for no reason.”
“Yes, I yelled and screamed,” Rosella began, “but”
But Glenda did not let the child finish.
“I don’t want to hear it. There is absolutely no excuse for your behavior!”
She grabbed the girl and started to shake her, to slap her anywhere she could reach, she who had never so much as spanked
her daughter, had never so much as thought of spanking her.
“Mommy, no! Stop! Mommy!”
Rosella hadn’t called Glenda “Mommy” since she was eight. It was always “Mom.”
“This,” Glenda yelled, continuing to slap and shake Rosella, “is what should have been done to you every day of your life!” She went on, “I’ve never been so embarrassed as that phone call made me feel!”
Again the girl cried out, “Mommy, please!”
Glenda let the child go.
“Now take your bath and go to bed. I don’t want to see you again tonight.”
She was in the bathroom a long time, longer than she usually spent in the bath.
“Stop dawdling and get to bed!” Glenda called.
Ten more minutes went by.
“I said get to bed!”
There was no answer, no, “Yes, Mom.”
“Don’t you ignore me!”
Still no answer.
“I’m warning you!”
Still no answer.
Glenda walked over to the bathroom and yanked the door open.
She stepped over to the tub.
The child… her child… was lying face-down in the bathwater.
Glenda, feeling more fear, more terror, more horror, and, most deeply, more remorse than she had ever felt, lifted her daughter out of the tub.
She saw the bruises and the pinch marks.
She hadn’t pinched Rosella.
And then she found the note on the sink.
“This is what really happened today. Six kids in my class, Eddie, Robbie, Jack, Clara, Matt and Lydia, attacked me for no reason. I never did anything to them, but all of a sudden they just surroundedme and started poking me and pinching me and pulling my hair. THAT’S why I was screaming.
And Mr. Harrison saw the whole thing.
I tried to tell you, but you wouldn’t listen. You just started hitting me and shaking me and yelling at me. And you said it should have been done to me every day of my life.
I found out tonight that my own mother hates me. How can I live, knowing that?
Glenda covered her face with her hands.
“What have I done?” She shuddered. “Dear God, what have I done?”
She heard the wind whining.
She heard the rain torrenting down.
She went to the medicine cabinet and took out a razor blade.
It was a dark and stormy night.