taciturn (TAH-sih-turn), adjective

Reserved; uncommunicative; a person of few words.

“Stare,” she said, “stare until your eyes water and your mind imprints me in the forefront. I’m not embarrassed. You should not be either. Go ahead, stare.”

She caught me looking at her in a way that my mother would be ashamed.

“And what do you think I was looking at?” I asked my mother when I, for some reason, retold the story of what this strange girl said to me that changed my perspective on things forever. I am in the habit of relaying my day at home over dinner to whomever will listen. When asked how my day was, I prefer to actually say it, unlike my twelve year old taciturn self who only yelled “fine!” in an unnerving kind of way.

“Well?” I ask my mother, “What do you think she said I could stare at?” It could have been anything. It could have been her enormous, scandalous tits that have no business being inside of her shirt. The kind that when in a high collared tee look absurd, droopy almost. Disproportionate is more like it. Women with huge breasts should let them breathe at least in a subtle v-neck if not the obscene low-cut my mother is thinking about now. She always assumes the worst.

Though whatever big-breasted floozy she’s imagining I spent my afternoon gawking over is a close tie, and equally disheartening, to the overly tattooed girl whose slender throat is being choked by a vine of roses. Thorns tear into her skin. This, my mother will think, won’t make any sense either because roses don’t grow on vines that curve around a slender neck, which will make her frown about the idiot who inked this poor girl. A girl who is too young to have such permanent decisions out in the open for everyone to see.

My mother frowns at things like that. Things that don’t make any sense but people wear openly. Like words on billboards that are misspelled for what many people might think is a clever pun. Down the street there is a daycare business with a sign that says, Kids’s Kamp, with no ‘C’ in sight.

“What were you staring at then?” She’ll ask triumphantly, though she’s won nothing. Least of all the truth out of me. I like watching her fidget over what trouble her perfect child could have gotten into today.

Although, I am perfect, good grades and earnest. I actually do love my mother and I actually like my life. As a high school aged person, that is rare. I know it is because I see these other kids at school. I talk to the girl who lets me stare at her every day in math class and I know her mother doesn’t ask how her day was. I can tell by the scars she covers with gaudy bracelets, twirling and messaging them relentlessly.

“You can look,” she smiles and I can’t take my eyes off her.

My mother’s face twists from agitated over to worried. What if I really did something wrong. I can see my mother’s thoughts like musical notes stringing through the air out of both ears. Her worries spill out from both sides and I read in the air next to her head, “what if he goes to jail! Oh and then gets a tattoo?”

I laugh because the way I read it is that she is more concerned with my getting a tattoo while in jail than the fact that I could possibly go to jail. That is very much my mother’s way.

She curses me for laughing and I hold out my hand. I grab her wrists in my hands and I squeeze.

“I wasn’t staring at anything, Mom.”

I stand up and kiss her on the forehead.

“Thanks for dinner, Mom. I’ll take care of the dishes.”


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