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by Randal Eldon Greene

A new kind of mother — postpartum mother — for over three years. The boy hits his little sister with a stick. He lies about her crying. She tripped on the drainpipe. Hates himself. Feels ashamed. Plays alone in his room with plastic dinosaurs. They kill each other, and their limbs don’t bend, and they stay on the floor until Saturday when the boy sees his mother’s red face yelling rages. For protection he sleeps with a little pocketknife under his pillow. He loses his pocketknife playing in the trees by the city dump. There are bones of a bird there on the ground. He takes the fragile skull, gives it to his sister. She keeps it in the back of her closet until high school, the day after graduation, when she throws it away. She writes him a letter he will never read. She throws that away. She creeps into the box-filled garage. Finds the bucket of stiff, plastic dinosaurs, removes five of the toys and throws those away. All of it in the same black garbage bag, which she takes out to the trash. And she cries, and she hopes he will be happy with it. When her diploma arrives in the mail two weeks after graduation, she quietly packs what she needs. She passes by bottles of green pills, brown pills, and red pills on the counter. Words spoken in sleep slip from the bedroom door, open just a crack. She stops to listen: hate him pit dis—. Then she walks down the hallway, away from the only kind of mother she has ever known.

Randal Eldon Greene is the author of the novella Descriptions of Heaven (Harvard Square Editions, 2016) and the weekly Medium series Dialogues: A Collection of Creative Conversations. Greene holds a degree in English and anthropology from the University of South Dakota. He works full time as a seeing eye human for his blind dog, Missy. Greene lives in Sioux City, Iowa. His typos are tweeted @authorgreene and his website is found at AuthorGreene.com.