I don't know that I will ever actually WRITE a novel. I want to, but I lack commitment, follow through, dedication and belief in myself.
But here is the beginning of one version I tried starting.
This is FICTION but based in reality.
People wonder how I stay. I wonder too. But then, I also wonder how I could leave. Perhaps this will be my legacy; “Here lies Mallory Kelley. She stayed.”
There are worse things people could say about me.
remember when Macy was born. I can see us as a trio, as if I am hovering above us, looking back in time, laying on my narrow twin bed in my Mom’s house. We are so young. All three of us. Jake and I are just 17. No one thinks we will make it. Jake is gingerly fingering Macy’s fuzzy hair, her ears, each individual toe. He is mesmerized by her. I am mesmerized by him.
remember one weekend a couple years later when Ethan was around 18 months old. Jake had earned a weekend pass from his rehab program. Rain was coming down as if someone had opened up a massive hose over the whole Southern California coastline. He had hitched a ride with someone from the bus station. He knocked on our door and I opened to him sodden and oozing on the doorstep. I expected his usual vibrating irritation or impatience but instead got grateful and eager. Relieved, I pulled him in and fell into his arms. He hugged me back. He smelled of wet asphalt and chewing tobacco. The kids bounced around our legs like fleas “Daddy!” “Daddy!” “Daddy!”. He greeted them with a soggy, perfunctory hair tousle and they went back to their cheerfully obnoxious singing puppet video. We spent the rest of the weekend in bed, dry skinned and smooth in clean sheets. We absorbed each other. We breathed each other. Our limbs intertwined. The world dissolved and there was just us. We surfaced only to feed the kids or change an occasional diaper (which is remarkable in retrospect, because two kids under four don’t typically understand making themselves scarce). This was the weekend we made Lola. It wasn’t anywhere near when I should have been ovulating and we used birth control, yet her will to be overcame those mere trifling deterrents and just a week later, her rapidly multiplying cells implanted happily in the lush lining of my uterus. I can’t even begin to explain the horror of explaining this third pregnancy to everyone we knew.
“Don’t you know how this happens?” they would act like they were joking, only, they weren’t. It wasn’t funny.
remember one of many Mother’s Days when we didn’t have a dollar to our name. Jake, who is normally horrible with holidays, (“Promoted by retailers strictly for profit”) got all three kids up and fed without disturbing me. He sent Macy out to pick flowers and got the other two busy coloring cards while he gathered the ingredients to make scrambled eggs and cinnamon French toast. He let the kids help mix and stir and flip. They stuck the muddy mangled flowers in a vase on a tray and carried up breakfast in bed while crooning “Happy Mother’s Day to you”. Macy was beaming with pride. Ethan was doing his best to mirror his Dad’s every move. Lola was clapping and giggling “We made it Mama. We made it.” They all climbed onto the bed and gathered around me to watch me eat it. Jake reached out and tucked a renegade strand of hair behind my ear then used his calloused thumb to stroke my cheek and whispered “Happy Mother’s Day, Babe”.
My past comes to me like this, in fragmented memories. Disjointed and disconnected. Seemingly separate and yet woven inextricably together. When I take each one by itself, I feel like I have lived dozens of separate lives. When I link them and look at them as a whole, I feel tired and sad and foolish. How can 20 years be so long and yet seem to have gone by as quickly as a tear falls?