Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Monday Night. Tired. Will talk Super Bowl this week. Maybe talk Little Feat or McCartney too. Below is the next section of "From Here to the Last Mound of Dirt."


I liked being the last one home with mom. We’d sit at the kitchen table like I’m doing now and have coffee together. I’d make it. We’d talk, both with our white and blue ceramic mugs in our hands. Tom bought them for her for mother’s day one year. It was my single after school cup of coffee and it was a time for mom and me to just chat. In the summer we missed that time to share. I was too busy going to see my friends. She’d stop me sometimes and try to get me to stay. But I had to go, even though I could hear and I guess even feel the sadness in her voice. It’s funny that you can realize and even feel those things and not act on them. It doesn’t make sense. I don’t know why I did it. I just wanted to spend time with my friends before college. I knew mom was sick, but you never think that your mother is going to die.

It’s not sunny like it was yesterday. The clouds have moved in and I can see specks of rain on the skylight above me. The coffee is a little strong, not enough water. I always did that. The coffee at school is fine, although a little hot in those thin paper cups. The inside of the mug is grayish clay, which looks nice with the black of my coffee. James always asked me if I was a fisherman drinking my coffee black. I just like the flavor, the bitterness, and the strength. But he liked to tease me.

I don’t think that mom ever talked with Maggie the way she talks with me. No, its talked isn’t it? The way she talked with me. I was too young to really observe how they acted towards each other when Maggie was my age. And she was out of the house for so much of my time growing up that I could only really see on the holidays. I think mom was always hard on her. Maybe it was because they were so different but looked the same with their terrific red hair. And me with my strange blondish hair that no one in the family has.

“Maggie did you and mom ever just chat like girls?”

“Like girls?”

“I don’t know. I mean you know about celebrities and hair and I don’t know share with her your problems.”

“No, I don’t really share my problems with anyone. And I never did with mom. Celebrities?”

I look down embarrassed. She’s my big sister and sometimes I don’t know where to start with her.

“Yeah, like gossip.”

She laughs.

“You mean you never even shared your problems with Jake?”

She stops laughing and looks at me closely for a moment. Then she smiles and turns away.

If only I could talk to her that way. What happened between her and Jake? I thought they were going to get married. I was happy when James got married, but it’s different when you’re older sister is going to get married. Because even though James and I have always been closer, it was Maggie I looked up to. A sister who is successful and has an interesting job and gets to travel and sends you pictures of exotic places. “My older sister is on assignment in Siberia.” Then your friends come over and see pictures of this beautiful girl with lots of red hair and you hope you can be like that too. Well without the red hair of course.

The drizzle is falling a little bit more. It’s like a mist. Tom went out earlier for a walk. I hope he isn’t getting caught in the rain. Where did he go anyway? I see him the most but know him the least. He should’ve asked me to go with him. He’s always sneaking around going on his train rides, going for his walks with his funny and forceful stride. It’s strange to grow up and not really know one of your brothers.

I sip the coffee. It’s nice and bitter and hot. My tongue burns a little.

I’ve put the dishes in the washer after dinner. The kitchen smells like strong brewed coffee.

“Why don’t you sit with me and have a cup, Liza?”

“I’m sorry, mom. I’ve got to go meet Lauren.”

“Just a cup? Soon you’ll be gone. And it’ll be such an empty house.”

“Tom will come by. You know that.”

“I know but it’s not the same as talking with you.”

“Come on, mom.”


She looked so disappointed in me. She just gave me a vacant nod. And I was so angry. Why did she have to put that on me? Why did she have to look so pathetic? And why couldn’t I see she was getting weaker? Wasn’t dad supposed to fix her? It wasn’t cancer, that’s what he said. I still don’t understand it all. You’re not supposed to feel guilty for spending time with your friends. Your parents are supposed to cope with having an empty nest, not die suddenly when they seem fine.

I didn’t kill my mother.

“Liza, is it true you killed your mother?”

“I heard that too. That she died of a broken heart because you moved out and went to school.”

“I wouldn’t have done that.”

“You all don’t understand. I didn’t do it.”


I didn’t do it.

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