An Excerpt From “Family Extravaganza”
“You’re every woman’s fantasy of a volcano. Look at you, baby.” Mom would snuggle up to me and try to drag me up on her lap like I was a Chihuahua in a St. Bernard’s body. “You’ve got the makings of a science project.” She’d rub my corpulent belly that was giving my knockers a run for the money. “Every day you could blow your fuse or blow a tire, you never know, but I say, keep on singing, baby, keep on singing and it’ll never catch up to you.”
I really wanted to slip some of my Zyprexa in her mimosa to see if she could see what I saw in her, but I never did. She was so full of some kind of life that neither of us had ever experienced. She was hopped up on a drug she’d never known. Mom’s psyche had become mutilated when she was a child. Some rank neighbor’s father had molested her for years, annihilated her kid-dom. She told me once that she didn’t speak for a year after that. “My mom never prepared me for bankruptcy,” she said. “What was there to say?” she’d ask and wander into an abyss that felt like trying to dig that hole to China. I knew what it felt like to dig for something that I’d never find.
“Rein them in baby, rein them in,” she’d say. I told her the bras she bought me were a structural engineer’s fantasy, capable of shooting boulders at any enemy who crossed us. She’d laugh and pull up my shirt, saying, “By god, you’ve got a goddamn gorgeous mountain range erupting on your chest.”
Mom was a true fan no matter what I did. And I barely did much. I attempted to date sometimes. Manager Pete, or some guy who ordered a 9-piece original, or another one who went for a 24-piece bucket without looking beyond my breasts—didn’t matter if they were single or had an entire family at home— would wait for me outside when we closed up. I let a few of them suck on me in their cars in the parking lot after hours and I could understand what the marrow felt like in those bones after they’d ripped away all the meat. What is it about the weight of a breast that makes a man lose his faculties and become a slurping, corpulent baby? I guess those weren’t really dates.
So, the psychiatrist took me off the Zyprexa before I launched into the girth of the state of Texas. He told me I would lose the weight on this new drug and that I was the psychic equivalent of a teeter-totter. I never met anyone that didn’t peer over the precipice of something.
Beth Couture is an assistant editor with Sundress Publication and the secretary of the board of directors of SAFTA. She is also the fiction editor of Sundress’ newest imprint, Doubleback Books. Her own work can be found in Gargoyle, Drunken Boat, Yalobusha Review, the Thirty Under Thirtyanthology from Starcherone Books, Dirty, Dirty from Jaded Ibis Press, and other publications. Her first book, a novella titled Women Born with Fur, is due out in the fall from Jaded Ibis Press. She teaches at Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, PA.