“Resident Alien” (working ms)

4 May

Hold on, I’m coming.
First one checked in was my brother Petr. Was named after a saint. But he ended up among the stars after one year. I never knew him proper. I came just before he died. Of course, I never could know him proper. He had tuberculosis or some brain swelling, I don’t remember now to tell. There’ve been a few. Two others came after me, a boy and a girl and both of them got thrown back up to the sky. Back to God. At least they were christened. The Church was there first day, never mind both didn’t yet have a name. The Church was always there the first day. For all of us. God delivers ’em dirty and wants ’em back clean. A fuck of a man He is, isn’t he? And one more. There was one more when I turned four—a girl named Violetta. She was run down by a taxi by mistake at the seaside on the 7th of July 1975. And up to the stars she went with all the others. I remember not liking her too much. Babies are worthless, like I was. Healthy, rosy, tree trunks for legs, a strong chest and heartbeat, nine pounds and a half and worth less than a round piece of horse shite drying on pavement in the hot sun.
My Ma won’t tell you that, but I could see it in her eyes as I punched through the air and squirmed to get to her tit. I don’t remember St. Petr, but I remember that.
I came roaring in with a crooked nose in the middle of the day in the middle of the week in the middle of the summer. In another country. In a strange country.
—At’s a good boy there, said the man who’d pulled my head with forceps as my Ma shoved me out with the innards an’ all. Good riddance.
—At’s a good strong boy.
—Gimme a cigarette, said my Ma. When they held me up for her to see she nodded and reclined back.
—Have to work on the boy’s nose on your own, at home, said the man with the bloody forceps. —Should be no more than a few weeks if you do it daily. Cartilage, mum. She is a fickle material but fixable. The wonders of the human body, mum.
—Gimme a cigarette.
My Ma. By then she was already ruined. A big woman with no more dreams and four children in the stars.
My poor Ma.
She was called Lilly. Lilly. I think of the name and I don’t see my mother. Lilly is like a melody. Shiny, black hair, olive skin, a mole right there by the lip, in that little groove just below the nose. Bit to the right, off-center. She skips, she laughs, she plays hopscotch. Her arms dance with the wind, she is a fast learner. Her teacher is fond of her. She is good at maths and brilliant at calligraphy. She makes the cursive letters look like gems. She’s a great future coming. She’ll marry a big noise. Have healthy children. Live happily ever after. But what happens after? What of that? No one ever tells the story of ever after. The fairy tale always stops short.
My poor ruined mother.
She was twelve when she figured out her life would have no music. And she was nineteen when she plowed into my father—a mack truck barreling through the air, eviscerating everything in his path with a heartbeat.


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