An excerpt from Joyride: life, death and forgiveness
Sunset from my home in Eastern Oregon
The next day when we came home from school, Mother’s glaring eyes looked like two balls of blue steel. “So! You told your dad I’m never home.” An open beer can was on the coffee table and beside it, a lit cigarette smoldered in a clean ashtray. “Never home!” She threw her hands in the air and walked away from us.
Mother stopped near the dining room table, reeled around, and sneered. “Well, where am I now? I can’t believe you told him that!” She slapped one hand on her hip and came at us with her finger held high in the air like any minute she’d use it to send us through the wall. “Told him there’s no food.” She kept walking toward us, scolding us with her shaking finger, and gritting her teeth. “No food! You said there’s nothing to eat. The cupboards are bare. The refrigerator’s bare.”
My sister and I were just inside the front door. I was mute as I considered how to answer in our defense. Past experience had taught me that anything could happen, and my answer would either improve or worsen the situation. “Mommy,” I said, weakly.
Mother pressed her lips together and scowled. “Yes? I suppose this is a confession,” she retorted sarcastically and got right in my face. “Go on. What other lies did you tell your dad about me?”
“We didn’t,” I managed to say.
“That’s right,” Robin said.
I was afraid she’d strike me and stepped away from her reach. “We’re not lying. We answered some of Dad’s questions. That’s all.”
Mother kept waving her finger at us. “What did you tell him?” She poked it into her chest. “That I’m a lousy mother?”
I hadn’t seen her so angry since the fight with Max when she punched his nose. I was bewildered. Love doesn’t hurt other people. She loved us–that’s what I had always thought and I’d always believed that she would never deliberately hurt us–Mother stepped closer to me, gesturing wildly with her hands, her face reddening with anger. I felt threatened, unsafe, and at risk of suffering physical harm.
From JoyRide: Life, Death and Forgiveness—A Memoir, pages 200-201
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Copyright © 2013 by Pamela Koefoed. All rights reserved.