Funny Drama Coming of Age

Rosa didn’t miss her mother, the thoughts containing her became more and more infrequent, even while she was eating maple syrup, or watching old ‘Law And Order’ episodes as they had used to do together. She didn’t miss the warmth of her mother’s lap, or the way her mother's expert hands glided through her hair, allowing her nails to just slightly graze the surface of Rosa’s scalp. She didn’t miss Thursday fajita night, the jazz music and the smell of Jasmine candles while Cathy took her evening baths, or the racket she made getting up several times a night to use the toilet, the result of what she had called a 'bladder problem'. 

She didn’t miss the way Cathy, would sneak outside every once every few weeks or so to have a cigarette, somehow convinced that Rosa was unaware, proceeding to spraying excessive amounts of perfume on herself to try and cover it up. Rosa was perturbed by her mother’s prudishness and had perceived is as a kind of self-imposed naivety, a defence mechanism to stop her from accepting her own reality, as if Cathy herself came to believe her own bullshit. Rosa had secretly wished Cathy could square up to the realities and deliver them to her without constantly trying to spare Rosa her innocence. It never occurred to Cathy how counterproductive her efforts had truly been, how each sidestepping, pussyfooting, sugarcoating tendency Cathy committed simply pushed Rosa closer towards a precipice Cathy had been trying to hold her back from. 

Gradually, as Rosa grew older, she wanted to demonstrate to Cathy she was just as much an adult as her, stealing her lipstick and sneaking out after midnight. While Cathy tried to put her foot down, it was clear to both of them, that Cathy held no authority in Rosa's eyes, and not even her own. Whenever she tried to send Rosa to do her homework, or to sleep, or to do her chores, her voice raised slightly, as though questioning itself. The tiny aging woman with her soft voice simply couldn't manage anything louder, anything more intimidating to her daughter than the mere squeak of a mouse caught in a trap. But nevertheless, she still tried to lay down the law, and continuously, she failed miserably. The boiling point had been reached when Rosa had failed her science assignment, and so Cathy had attempted to refuse her to Rosa attend a slumber party. 

“You’re a waste of life, no wonder dad left you. I should leave you too.”

Rosa said, her hands on her hips, sticking out in the tight black pants she wore, her still growing legs accentuated by the high heeled boots she wore.

Cathy stood with tears in her eyes, but remained firm, silent while her only daughter Continued admonishing her, vindicating her, verbally brutalizing her, each word like a bullet wound into her stomach.  She was still wearing her nurse scrubs, and she felt dirty and sweaty and exhausted.

“You sack of dirty old shit. No man could ever want you. No man could ever want your dirty old ,dusty cobwebbed, moth eaten pussy.“ 

Cathy, being the meek lamb that she was succumbed to tears and retired early to bed, having a Saturday morning shift to rest for, while Rosa snuck out and smoked her first marijuana joint at Phaedra’s birthday 14th celebration. By the next night, after Rosa had slept away the afternoon and Cathy had worked a long shift at the hospital, things were settled over some Chinese takeout food, and Cathy gave Rosa one of her famous head rubs after Rosa had finished her Shanghai noodles and dozed off into her mother’s lap. 


Said Rosa, while the opening credits for 'Law And Order' played. 

“Yes, Rosa?”

“There’s this guy...”

But despite her loving warmth, her constant endearment for Rosa, her martyrdom was inescapable. Without anyone except Rosa to confide in, she had no other choice but to relieve her burdens onto her, otherwise unable to cope with the stresses she accumulated as a single, working mother. It became routine for Cathy to either complain to young Rosa about her sore feet or her throbbing temple, or even worse, for her passive silence to do the talking for her, causing Rosa to resort to theatrics to try and cure her mother's sorrows. Deep inside, Rosa had internalized a level of responsibility for her mother’s emotions, as if it was her fault her father had left, her fault Cathy worked at the hospital, her fault the water heater had broken, and she had began to grow sensitive towards every slight facial movement, every subtle inflection in her mother’s voice, which Rosa would respond to either defensively, complaining

“Nothings ever good enough, I’m never good enough”

or affectionately:

“Oh mom, you’re the best mom. In the world. “

or at her worst, bitterly:

” All you ever do is complain, no wonder why you have no friends. If it wasn’t for me you would die alone. “

Eventually, however, in spite of Cathy’s enduring love for Rosa, in spite of all the deep intimacy between them, Rosa found a level of resentment burning within her belly, only. a flicker, a spark, burning slowly at first, and later, her entire being soaked in gasoline, ignited into flames even by the mere presence of Cathy.  

Some nights, Rosa could hear her mother crying from the next room, tossing beneath her sheets, whimpering beneath the moonlight shining over the surrounding buildings into her tightly shut eyes, and while Rosa had once felt sympathy, when she searched to find it, it seemed her sentimental feelings had been eventually been erased entirely, replaced with the flames of rage and a gurgling acid bubble of disgust, boiling at every sight of that quality within her mother she had come to despise, the quality she desperately wished to never inherit—the quality of weakness. Rosa never wanted to return home from work having been chewed out, run down, her feet ready to fall off, her hair falling out, having been bent over and made into a slave, treated like an old dog by her boss or her clients or anyone else. From all those nights listening to the rapture and grief raging within the room next door, the sobs from crippling pain and loneliness, the bitter tears of a failed life, the squealing of a failed humanity, Rosa made it her life’s business, she made the vow to herself, to marry rich. 

And though, despite her mounting rage Rosa did still love her mother, she no longer cared for her. Rosa didn’t even bother to fake laugh when her mother wanted to share a funny anecdote about wacky Candace the receptionist, or to feign rage over the injustices she faced from Dasha, the head nurse. Rosa couldn’t bare to listen to the rambling any longer, and there would be moments when, as her mother spoke, Rosa’s mind barricaded itself, when her ears became deaf, her eyes blurred, and her body would completely disconnect itself from the dreadful moments spent with Cathy. 

Each moment spent with her Cathy had begun to feel excruciating in and of itself, and Rosa did everything in her power to stay away from Cathy as much as possible, as though desperate for air from the long years spent with Cathy’s emotional smothering. But, the times they did end up in the same room, Rosa gritted her teeth and clenched her fists as her mother tried to engage her in conversation, while Rosa, did everything in her power to maintain a sense of civility, a sense of compassion for her broken, aging, yet, infantile mother. While Cathy cooked their supper, Rosa sometimes attempted to keep her company, grimacing, her eyes burning as she stared at her mother, forcing her to to look away, as though watching angels burning in a hellfire. Despite trying with all her being to feel something, to have some sincere fleck or emotion registering through her, her stare was completely vacant, except for the agitation and disgust at her mother’s helpless condition.  

Rosa’s eyes stayed fixitated upon her mother’s hands as they expertly chopped peppers and onions for their Wednesday night chilli, and she traced the veins along her slender wrists and forearms. She tried with all her being to imagine the sound of her mother’s little heart beating inside her chest, she tried to look into her mother’s big endearing eyes as they doted in her, she wished to embrace her mother’s boundless, desperate love for her without some touch of revulsion, but found herself depleted, devoid of anything except the flames of hatred.while she still recognized all the positive qualities her mother had, all the innocence, all the pure selfless cherish and devotion she showed towards Rosa, Rosa, In searching through the depths of her soul, could not locate such qualities. 

And so, as the weeks went by at her father’s, Rosa found herself not only not missing her mother, but overjoyed at finally being untethered, unburdened, free from her mother’s incessant hovering over her. In the musky, cigar smoke clouded, take out container ridden Cottage she lived in together with her father, Rosa experienced a breath of fresh air. Teddy proved to be quite the opposite from the hands in treatment Rosa had grown so used to, sleeping most of the day and out most of the night, while enjoying a few idle hours by the television with Rosa between her coming home from school and retiring to bed. Teddy didn’t ask Rosa where she went in the weekends with all the new friends she had made, or why she stunk of marijuana and alcohol, or why she would be home from school many odd days, or for a whole week straight, even covering for her himself, informing the school administrators when they called out of concern, that Rosa had simply been down with a ‘bug’.  

And Rosa found herself settling into a comfortable routine of staying up late with her father, watching television and eating frozen pizza or ordering take out, and unlike her mother, Rosa felt nothing but tenderness toward her father. Rosa felt she had finally been saved from the agonizing clutches of her mother’s dependence, saved by the cushy world Teddy had provided, the absolute freedom, the ability to think and feel for herself, without her mother’s voice playing through her mind on a tape loop, the mental and emotional security he provided her. It wasn’t anything that he said or did in particular, and infact, there was little he ever said or did for Rosa that wasn’t related to food or television or satisfying other material desires she had, but more than anything else, it was what he didn’t say, that Rosa cherished the most. Teddy could simply lay flat in his recliner, a beer in hand, his belly poking through the bottom of his stained shirt, his chest hair through the top, and his breath so loud Rosa often had to raise the television volume. Rosa could lay for an entire Saturday afternoon with Teddy laying there on the sofa beside hers, grunting and breathing heavily, making odd remarks abo it what to eat, occasionally lighting up a cigar or cigarette or opening up a sofa can, and Rosa could feel prolonged periods of euphoria, cloudy pink fluffy radiant bliss. 

Teddy was pleased to have his daughter wrapped around his finger, after many years of no human contact aside from his shady business dealings and the young strippers who he brought home, Teddy found a level of solace he’d never known in having Rosa by his side, and seeing her face light up when he surpused her with a new purse or allowing her a swig if vodka. It wasn’t that Teddy had our grown, or had tired of his previous exploits, in fact, he openly carried forth with his drunkenness, his gambling and his promiscuous sex right under his daughters nose. The truth was, Teddy had not matured into fatherhood whatsoever, he had no desire to truly parent Rosa, he merely wanted to possess the feelings fatherhood could offer, to be able to experience the manifold joy of providing for his daughters security and happiness, without incurring any of the nagging responsibility, to simply provide the cash, whatever amount neccesary, and enjoy the return on his investment. And Rosa, having been used to the opposite, a poor mother with nothing but her soul to give, considered herself blessed with luck to be the recipient of Teddy’s fatherly affection. Money and hugs, and occasionally stealing the drugs he left In his bathroom, and not a single question asked, never an eyebrow raised, nothing more pressing than the question of what to watch on television and anything else pertaining to Rosa’s immediate gratification, she felt she had been delivered to heaven. 

But eventually, Teddy’s own conscience got the best of him, and it happened when he saw a commercial for the new Ford Mustang. 

“You know, Rosie, your Papa used to drive one of those”

Said Teddy, resting his imported beer bottle next to a coaster down on the freshly cleaned wood coffee table. Dimitri, the crackhead housemaid who Teddy had employed out of good Will, had just been that day to leave the whole house sparkling. It amazed Rosa how a man who sounded like a warthog, snorting every seven seconds, with the IQ of a elementary school student, the way he raved about baseball and his favourite cartoons, could somehow be as adept and thorough a cleaner as he was. 

“Yeah, I’d bet. “

Said Rosa, distracted, eating peanut butter with a spoon 

“That’s right, I did. Was only 18...”

Rosa continued spooning peanut butter into her mouth without saying anything. 

“Met your mom around then. She was just 15.”

Rosa suddenly dropped the spoon in the jar, her hands tensing and her entire body pulsating with heat and fury at the mention of her mother, as though she had suddenly appeared in the room before her, ready to take away the freedom, the aliveness Rosa had come to cherish. 

“She was so shy and cute, sitting there at that old shake shop with little Fredo, that weasel, ,What was the damn place called ? Oh right, Dino’s.”

“Yeah she was sitting there with a biscotti on her plate, looking bored to death, but too damn polite, you know your mother, you know how she was, too damn polite to make a bone about it....”

“But me? I sure as hell wasnt polite. I went over, leaving my friends and said...”

“Hey Rosie?”

Said Teddy, Interuotting his own story. 

“What the hells tha matter? Looks like you seen a white rabbit... anyway. I said ‘hey, Fredo, you’re boring this poor girl to death. Hey sweetheart, hey kiddo. What’s your name?’”

Teddy said, his eyes glazed, staring so proudly into his own mind a trumpet could almost be heard sounding in his glory. His heart was thumping, his lips twisting into a grin, and when he took another sip of beer, suddenly it tasted better on his tongue than it had only a moment before.  

“Next thing I know only the biscotti was left there with little Fredo, and the bill, while I took your mother for a slice and then for some dancing.”

“Who knew she’d end up being such a crazy b—i, eh, you know Ros, you should write her... yeah. I want you to write her a letter. Just uh, let her know everything’s okay. Hopefully she’s got her uh, drinking under control. I dunno what it is with her. Either way. Write her and just uh, let her know everything is okay. Poor old woman. Let her know you’re alright. Tell her school is good and... yeah. You know?”


“No questions. There’s her address on the fridge. Just do it.”

Thet was the first time Teddy had exacted any order upon Rosa, and it struck her like a knife in her back, suddenly sweeping the rug if fluffy bliss from underneath her feet and replacing it with the cold stark reality she had been putting off all this weeks, the reality of her mother. 

Rosa gritted her teeth as she rose from her seat to mechanically compose her haphazard letter to her mother, before promptly sitting back down on the sofa. 

Teddy smiled, wide as he picked up his phone, a private line he had through a private phone company, completely untraceable. 

“Yeah I’d like to order a pizza, yeah it’s me, yeah the usual. Thanks, Hank. Tell Rita I say...”

“Change it! Change the fucking channel!”

Said Rosa, almost lunging for the remote by Teddy’s side. 

“Uh, tell her I say, uh, hello. Alright, thanks Hank.”

Said Teddy, putting down the phone. 

“Hey! What the he’ll is the matter with you you lunatic? Why’d you just go psycho?”

Teddy’s face was red, his quick temper ignited. 

“Nothing, just change this shit!”

Said Rosa pointing at the screen

“Alright, alright. Take it easy, we won’t watch Law And Order, happy you fucking nut job?”

November 23, 2020 05:51

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