Friday, February 18, 2011

The Red Dress Club: A Memoir

Today I am doing something different.  I am linking up with a site called "The Red Dress Club.  It is an absolutely brilliant site for writers, any writers, all writers!  They give prompts twice a week and then later a chance to post your blog site so that others can read how you chose to craft the prompt.  This week's memoir prompt was to write a piece about an item of forgotten clothing and what it meant to you.  I acknowledge it is different for the blog and perhaps may be difficult to read.  But I am satisfied that it goes along with the theme of the blog that sometimes motherhood can be excruciatingly difficult.

While packing a box of preschool sized hand-me-downs for a colleague the tiny tan corduroys at the bottom of the box instantly transported me to that day...that unnerving day 12 years ago when I contributed to slicing a hole in my son's soul. 

The unforgiving fluorescent lights exposed the shabby basement, highlighting the molasses colored soda stains on the tan carpet, the pulls and pills of the overused tweed couch, the dark brown of the knotty pine slatted wall laid like jail cell bars that boxed us in.    Aidan, my toe headed five year old, was cradled in the arms of the exhausted overstuffed red recliner that could have fit three of him.  His short legs were crossed at his sockless ankles just coming to the edge of the arm.  Scott nudged me from behind, his fingers like rounded daggers pressing into my spine; I planted my feet firmly on the worn carpet, trying to eke out just a little more time for my son to be oblivious to the world of divorce.

Sensing us there, Aidan turned toward his father.   Scott’s thick eyebrows were knitted together, his mouth tight and crooked resembling the haphazard bookshelf that he leaned on.  Instantly, that kilowatt smile of Aidan’s, the one that caused his eyes to squint, disappeared.   Nervous of his father’s stern face, he pressed his hands together and rocked his hips back and forth causing the ancient chair to squeak with complaints.

I knelt before him and plastered on an “everything-is-fine smile” to hide my tortured eyes.  I slid my hands up the sides of his corduroys feeling the fibers rise against the grain, pulled him forward, and wrapped his legs around my middle.  Shakily but with resignation I said, “Aidan, daddy and I want to talk to you about something.”

  His father stood above us, and loomed over the conversation as if supervising instead of participating.  Aidan barely nodded his head and searched my eyes with his.  Voice quivering, I continued.  “I know that you don’t like it when daddy and I fight.”  Again, Aidan gave a wisp of a nod which bolstered me to press forward. 

“Well we don’t like it either and we’ve decided to do something about it.”  Hopeful eyebrows raised slightly on my child’s face causing my stomach to violently roll and my voice to crack and skip.  Teary, I looked to Scott for help.  He stood, statue like, arms crossed, face in a cemented frown.  

I drew in a long breath of musty cellar air, irritating my parched throat. “What we’ve decided,”   Looking down at the shaggy carpet I focused on a stain and repeated, “What we’ve decided is that daddy is going to go live with Grandma."

 What happened next was simultaneous chaos.   Aidan’s legs shot straight out like two by fours at my sides.  His body stiffened.  He thrashed in the chair like a caught trout on a fishing boat’s deck.  Then a guttural moan, the sound of devastation, came from the depths of him.  Every maternal-nerve in my body zapped me with electrical pain and instinctively I reached out to hold him.  Upon my touch he recoiled. His low groans turned to high pitched staccato daggers “No!  No!  No!  No!”  With quaking hands, I reached out to him once more.  He kicked at me violently and then turned to face the back of the fire red chair.  He rolled himself into a tight pellet of flesh and bone.   Muffled by the upholstery, Aidan coughed out a throaty maniacal “Go! Go! Go away NOW!!”    I frantically turned to Scott once more for help, only to see his feet ascend the paint chipped stairs, pounding in time with my throbbing head.  Wanting to sooth, knowing I couldn’t, I helplessly sunk to the bedraggled carpet.  Feeling no better than the lowly stains, I listened to the grief-stricken sobs coming from Aidan, cradled in the arms of the exhausted red recliner.