Prompt: Write a short story of 750 words or fewer based on the following prompt:
Mommy, I don’t like this.
Once again, you’ve made the Your Story competition a success! Thanks to everyone who participated in competition #66 (either by entering, reading or voting).
Out of nearly 300 entries, readers helped us pick “A Mother’s Confession” by Mindy Halleck as the winner. For winning, Halleck’s story will appear in an upcoming issue of Writer’s Digest.
“A Mother’s Confession”
On my son Damian’s twentieth birthday I nailed the windows shut so he couldn’t escape. On days when I dared take him walking through the neighborhood, I tied us together with dog leashes. My 105 pounds against his 160 pounds often left me dragged down the street until I was bloody, or someone called the police. No more walks.
We also no longer went to playgrounds, partly because we were unwelcome, but mostly, I feared what our neighbors feared: Damian may hurt someone, again. Naively, of course, but still, he didn’t understand his own strength. Like last year when he hugged our cat, Minski, until he stopped breathing. Smothered by love, I told Damian. Minski was smothered by your love.
Before the car accident, when he was four, Damian’s sweet eyes were speckled with blue-sky. He was a beautiful, smiling baby. My little bundle of sunshine. That’s what I called him, then. But soon after the accident his eyes soured, brown and bloodshot—that blue-sky sunshine erased by a tempest that raged through our lives.
Two years ago his father went out for cigarettes and never returned. I understood his leaving me, but abandoning our son was unforgivable. I swore to Damian I’d never leave him.
These last years, meals became a relentless battle.
Mommy, I don’t like this, he always said, his plate hitting the floor. Chocolate milk, mommy. I like chocolate milk.
Weary of the battle, weary of life, and haunted by those five words, I gave him chocolate milk.
Stay outside for ten minutes, let mommy have a cup of tea. I begged, and then locked the door. The backyard had all his toys, his tree house, and army fort.
But mommy, I don’t like this. He banged on the windows until I feared they would break, again. I let him inside. He climbed on me like the monkeys he watched on Discovery Channel. Crushed by the weight of him, I wondered, when would I be smothered by Damian’s love?
My heart ached whenever he begged to go outside and play with the children. Of course none of the older kids wanted to play with him. Retard! They yelled. Damian is a retard! Their refrain thundered through our constricted life.
So, Damian spent his time climbing trees in our backyard, acting like those TV monkeys. He mimicked them: jumping on me like those babies did their mommies. It’s cute when they do it. But when he did it . . . well, things broke. My arm, leg, and, once, he yanked so hard on me I herniated a spinal disc.
I hired help. But his behavior was so worrisome, they restrained him.
Damian doesn’t like to be restricted, I said.
I always thought it was because he remembered the car accident. His father had passed out, drunk, and slammed into a tree. Damian was badly injured and trapped in his carseat for six hours while the screeching ‘Jaws of Life’ and rescuers worked to save him. He screamed, “Mommy, I don’t like this,” from the back seat.
“Mommy’s right here, darling,” I cried from the front seat where I too, was entombed in fractured steel. Mommy will never leave you.
Damian was frozen in time, doctors said then. As he grew he remained toddler-like, depending on me for everything. Mommy, I don’t like this, somehow stuck on replay—his last words, formed in a healthy brain, before everything changed. He clung to those words.
Last week I was rushed to the hospital because he accidentally pushed me down the stairs. During that visit the doctor discovered I had cancer. Six months, he said.
Mommy, I don’t like this. Damian roared. The hospital orderlies held him down.
Against doctor’s orders, we left. I knew what had to be done.
At the pharmacy, the druggists asked, “Mrs. Cleary, you alright?”
I gripped the counter as Damian pulled the leash, tugging against my weakness.
Fine, thank you.
The risk of him wandering was too dangerous: last time he choked a toddler for being “too loud.”
The pharmacist handed me my pain-pills. “Is there anyone to help?”
Damian struggled with our airtight windows.
Mommy! I don’t like this!
“Drink your chocolate milk.”
He soon rested his head on my lap and fell into a deep sleep. I stroked his soft hair and watched my beautiful boy’s hurricane finally subside. Sleep, my darling.
“And then you called 911?” The officer asked.
I whispered in his ear, Mommy will see you soon.
“Yes, then I called you.”