The Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky | Chapter 58 of 65

Author: Jana Casale | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 1061 Views | Add a Review

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The End of Forever

Before she even woke up she knew. The previous night her dad called and told her that her mom had fainted. She listened to his voice, the very deep register of it. The same voice she heard her whole childhood broken away in branches about eating all your breakfast and shoveling snow.

“But she’s okay. She’s asleep now. I can wake her up if you want to talk to her,” he said.

“No, let her sleep. I’ll call in the morning,” Leda said.

But that night she had a restless dream about lactating.

“I don’t have a baby. I don’t have a baby,” she’d said over and over, and when she woke up she knew her mom had died. Seconds later her dad called her. It was an aneurism. He said it in the same booming voice, but he was crying so hard that she didn’t think she’d ever heard him say anything about breakfast or the snow.

When she was six years old Leda asked her mom, “Do you wish I was still a baby?”

“I like you at every age. I loved when you were a baby, but I love you now just the same,” her mom said.

“Do you wish you were still a kid?” Leda asked her.

“No, I liked being a kid, but I wouldn’t want to be one anymore. I’ve already been a kid.”

“I think if I were a grown-up I’d wish I were a kid,” Leda said.

“I don’t think you will. You never miss things like that once they’re gone.”

Her whole life Leda found that advice to be true, that you never missed the times that were gone enough to go back to them, but when she lost her mom she no longer felt that way. She wished so much to go back to it all.

“How could you do something so stupid?!” her mom once screamed at her. If only I could hear that again, she’d think. If only I could hear it again forever.

When she told Annabelle about her grandmother dying, Annabelle cried and said something muffled in her tears.

John cried too. He said, “But I just talked to her.”

Leda was sick to her stomach all that day. She felt that she should call her mom and ask her what to do, how to stop being such a wreck. Her mom would have known exactly how to not be a wreck in the situation.

How strange it is that these flowers are still here and my mom is not, she thought, looking at a vase of drying tulips.

She watched the episode of Sex and the City where Miranda’s mom passes away on repeat that whole week afterward. It made her laugh and it made her cry. She did it when John and Annabelle weren’t around. She didn’t want them to see her like that.

She sat by her bookshelf and took out the copy of Anna Karenina that her mom had given her for her sixteenth birthday. “Dear Leda, may this beautiful book guide you into womanhood,” her mom had inscribed on the first page. For a moment she held the Noam Chomsky book in her hand and flipped through it. It smelled so good. She put it back on the shelf.

At first she’d been scared to see her mother’s body; it wasn’t the way that she wanted to remember her. She wanted to remember her the way she was the last time she saw her: standing in the doorway and waving goodbye after they’d stopped by for dinner. It was something her mom always did. When Leda first met John, anytime she’d leave his apartment he’d only wave goodbye for a second before shutting the door. After a while she asked him if he could stand and wait until he could no longer see her before going inside. She hadn’t realized it at the time, but she was trying to build a family with him that was the same as the one she had. Finding a man was a way to let go of her mother. If she’d thought about it earlier, maybe she would have understood all those desperate years in her twenties when she would have done anything not to be alone. It was all for naught, though. John would wave goodbye many, many times, but it was not her mother. In the end she did agree to see her mom’s body, and she was glad that she had. It didn’t replace her final memory of her. It wasn’t her; it was just her body, her sacred vessel through life. Leda leaned down and kissed her forehead. She said a silent prayer about seeing her again and tried to think of something to say about love, but all she could think was, I love you, Mom. I love you. I love you.

Her mom had taught her how to pack a suitcase, and when Annabelle was born she taught her how to swaddle a baby.

“Don’t ever let a man talk to you like that,” she’d said.

Leda didn’t know what love really was until her daughter was born, and she did not know what pain really was until her mother died. She wished somehow she might be in a cave for the rest of her life with just her mother and daughter beside her, scribbling on cave walls. First they’d draw a horse. Then a handprint. Years later people would think men did the drawings. They would not know there were no men.

Leda read a short story in The New Yorker about a woman whose mom died suddenly in a car wreck. It had a lot of visual imagery to illustrate the pain of losing a parent. An empty shoe. A woman breaking a teakettle. Don’t they know that there is no thing that is that sad? Nothing looks like this feels. Not a million teakettles. Not a thousand empty shoes. She only read the story because she read a review of the story that praised it as “so honest it is almost a sin.” She read it in hopes that she might feel better after reading it, but it did not make her feel better at all. After that she was sorry she’d ever tried to publish a story in The New Yorker. She was glad they rejected her, that no one had called her work sinful and true.

When she came home from her mom’s funeral, she lay down on her bed. The house was empty.

“Mom,” she said.

“Mom,” she called.

“Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom!” she called and called as loud as she could through sobs and her voice breaking. “Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom!”

John came home, and she stopped screaming.

The rest of her life was like this. Of course she couldn’t scream like this in public. No one would feel sorry for you and the sadness you carried around. This she knew. This was what you learned as a child when you’d cry on the floor of a public place and your mother would lean in and tell you to act normally. Now that her mom was gone she had to tell herself that she could not scream and cry in public, but she would not stop searching. She would search for her mom forever everywhere she would go. Life could be so unreal and so vivid all at once you’d think it was a dream. You’d think it was all an etching on a wall. One you couldn’t remember carving. One that lasts forever, even when there are no more words to describe what you see.

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Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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