"Mommy broke something again."
I didn't bother turning my face from the computer screen. Tamela didn't sound so concerned either from her spot on the rug with her gazillion toy figures. Something near Mom broke. Nothing new.
"You okay Mom?" I asked loudly, my voice deadpan.
I heard some shuffling in the dining room. She probably broke one of those wedding dishes again. They seemed to be her flavor this week.
"Yeah, I'm all right sweetie," replied Mom in her false-cheerful voice, "Just that China plate Auntie Glenda got me on our wedding day. You know, the one with the robins? No big deal...not like the marriage lasted. No worries, I'll clean it up. Thanks for asking, Cal!"
"Okay Mom," I answered. I truly hadn't heard a word she just said. My attention was on the screen and it wasn't like she had said anything worth hearing again.
Our mom had then tendency to break things a lot. Ever since Samuel left a few weeks back. Since then, everything our Mom touched went Crash! BOOM! Clang!
Tamela and I just had to ask if she was okay.
"Messes, messes, messes," I heard her murmur. She'd gotten out her sky blue broom and dustpan set. She held them so often that seeing her without them was like seeing a warrior without his weapon. They were her weapons. She looked vulnerable without them.
"Why do things have to break so messily?" Tammi looked around from Mom to me. She wondered who Mom was talking to but figured she was having one of her private conversations and went back to her toys. "I mean, when things break, why can't they just stay where they break? They have this need to spread; make a wide area of tiny, tiny messes to clean..."
Mom always talked to herself like this when something broke. At first, we thought she accidently broke stuff from her shock and misery. Now, I just think she does it just so that she can clean up after. I think it makes her feel good. That she can clean up after herself if not her marriage, you know?
"Messes like to make things difficult by spreading themselves out like that. Instead of making a cluttered mess in one little place where they're easy to sweep, they like to spread the damage. Just so you can step on the tiny invisible pieces so you cut your foot and bleed..."
Thank God Tammi and I are pretty mature for our ages. If not, we'd need lots of therapy in later life. We both took this as a phase our mother was going through. Something that she'd hopefully grow out of...
"Need some help there Mom?" Tammi asked in a voice not unlike my own. Her attention was on the doll in her lap that had a helluva knot in its hair.
My mother chuckled like Tamela had something ridiculously clever. "Oh no deary! Messes are dangerous! I'm your mom... I can't let you get hurt. It's my job to make sure you don't get hurt... I'm supposed to clean up the mess so you don't get hurt..."
If only she knew how damaged we were.