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Sweet as Candy: A Novel in Verse

By @Madison


That night

I see myself roaming the aisles of a supermarket.

I’m not quite sure it’s me at first.

This woman is older

With a rat’s nest of blonde hair

Dressed in a ratty gray sweater.

These things, combined with the dark rings around her eyes

Make her look terribly haggard.

I would attribute her sunken face to drugs

If I didn’t then see the children prancing behind her.

It is when I see them

That I know this woman and I are one in the same.

The children are twins

A boy and a girl.

The boy is a regular Todd Junior

Looking like a shrunken down carbon copy of his father

Minus the acne issue.

The girl

Is a walking printout of myself in my childhood photos

With large blue eyes and little blonde pigtails.

She walks with a jovial gait

Black buckle shoes squeaking against the linoleum.

The older version of me hardly notices the children behind her

Pushing the shopping cart down the aisles as quickly as she can

As if she’s trying to get away from them.

But they are nothing but two sets of adoring eyes looking at her

Following like loyal ducklings.

The older me suddenly stops the cart

Picking a package of Wonder Bread off the shelf.

She turns it over, examining it for mold.

Meanwhile, the children find themselves in some sort of quarrel

The girl making grabby hands at a plastic dinosaur the boy is holding.

Giggling, he dangles it above her head

Causing her to whine.

For the first time, their mother casts a glance at them

Her eyes containing nothing but hollow disdain.

Absolutely devoid of love or concern

She turns back around.

Sick of her brother’s teasing

The girl opens her mouth

Tears glistening in her sky blue eyes.

Lifting herself to her tip toes

She reaches for her mother’s hand.

“Ma!” she calls.

Not thinking twice

The woman who was once me

Whips around

And backhands her own child

As hard as she can.

The girl gasps

Stumbling backwards to the floor.

Everyone in the store stops moving

Hundreds of venom filled eyes land on the caricature of a mother.

The girl sits up on the floor

Pulling her knees into her chest

As scarlet droplets trail from her newly split lip.

The boy, still standing

Looks from his sister

To his mother.

His bright green eyes hold nothing but betrayal

A look of sorrow that just might haunt me forever.

That’s when I jerk awake

Gasping for breath.

Shaking, I unwrap myself from my bedsheets

Check my hands for blood.

Finding nothing

I collapse against the mattress once more

Though I know I won’t go back to sleep easily.

How can I live through this

When ‘mother’ and ‘me’

Seem to be antonyms?

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