The Brush

I remember screaming. We were in the kitchen and I was about five or six.

“You witch! You witch!”

If I had known any worse words I would have used them. And this wasn’t even a spanking.

She was brushing my hair. Jerking her brush through the tangles. She was in a hurry and had to get it done as quickly as possible. But she was always in a hurry- no matter what. She was never going to be done with- whatever it happened to be.

My hair hung down my back, not quite to my waist.

I am, now, what in other parts of the earth would be considered an adult. An old maid. During short lived middle ages, I would be on the express train of old age headed for the broken bridge of death.

All of my mother’s children are still children- even the ones long out of high school. Living in their bedrooms in her house. Washing dishes to put themselves ahead in the competition for her favor. Baby sitting for people in the richer side of town as their ‘jobs’.

Their lives are passing.

She’s tired of them. She’s told me she feels guilty. Well of course. She had told them the purpose of their existence was to have children and also that it was sinful to be attracted to anyone or to pursue a relationship. They were supposed to wait for someone to buy them out of the store window.

Her store window was in the middle of a field and never did any advertising.

She never tells them she was wrong. She never even hints that they should pursue lives of their own.

They’re still waiting.

My baby sister is only eight. My grown up sisters are semi-raising mommy’s youngest children for her.

Now I’m not remembering. Now it’s a party. A family who is friends with our family (because Mom/’s family only interacts with other mom/’s families- not other people) is there and- in the middle of the party- my sister is brushing my sister’s hair.

Because we’re in too much of a hurry to stop for parties.

I’ve watched Mom brushing baby sister’s hair. She has trained baby sister to stomp her foot when it hurts- to grit her teeth and growl if it’s too much.

Because mommy can’t slow down long enough to NOT hurt her children. Ever.

She would rather be somewhere else, but she refuses to go. She would rather her children were somewhere else but she will not give them permission to leave. Even when she’s started to hate them.

Now my sister is ripping though baby sister’s hair with a brush.

I swim through the mass of people. A load of fake smiles plastered over skulls. God.

I get to them.

“I can do it.”

Sister’s body shifts to shoulder me out and she says something. She doesn’t want me to. Little sister keeps her face impassive. Her fists clenching and relaxing. At the age of eight, she could be a spy.

She’s asked them to cut her hair.  They wont do it.

A figure lurching behind me. Long hair hanging almost down to her waist. Long skirt. A voice made of artificial sweetener.

“Practicing to be a mommy?”

More of her teeth show. This question is the breakfast cereal of champions- the question asked of five year-old female children who can’t possibly not be five year-olds until they get taller and start earning their salvation through childbearing.

Bile rising. Sour in the back of my throat. I smear a fake smile across my skull, say words, and slide back into the crowd. Out of the room. Out of the house. I stand in the dark and breath.

You smiling fucking bitches. I’m not practicing for anything. I’m trying to keep my sister from being hurt.

Now.

Now.

Now.

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