by Sana Hameed, Age 15, USA
The fiction prompt for May was “mother.”
The pictures tell too little, Rebecca thought, her eyes skimming over the mere dozen photographs sprawled across her lavender bed sheets. She had spent the last hour defying her strictly enforced curfew and perusing the contents of the lone scrapbook in her father’s room to handpick prints including her mother. Each glossy shot held a woman with hair, a curtain of ebony, which flowed in rivulets down her back. Her hair acted as a shroud, enveloping her pale features to the point where only her rosy lips or her mirthful eyes were visible. Rebecca’s eyes analyzed her modest clothing preferences (usually a pastel sweater and jeans), as well as her body language in each picture. In some pictures, she was barely visible, and Rebecca had the sneaking suspicion that was intentional. It seemed so selfish now; the woman was playfully turning away from the photographer and unknowingly depriving her future daughter from seeing her beauty. Selfish.
“Beck, go to sleep!” She could hear her brother holler from down the hall.
“In a minute!” Her response was immediate. She knew Ellis was just looking out for her; their father would be home any minute from work and he wouldn’t be happy to see that she had gone through his personal belongings to discover more about the woman who had left them. Not particularly upset but unhappy.
“He misses mom. Probably more than anyone,” Ellis told her once when they were younger. Little Rebecca had had a hard time believing Ellis and the doubt never died. The old man seemed a stoic––solemn and emotionless, their entire lives. If her father missed the flighty woman, he had an odd way of showing it.
“Rebecca, what are you doing?”
Rebecca jumped in surprise upon hearing a familiar, condescending male voice behind her. She had been so absorbed in her own thoughts that she had forgotten to heed Ellis’s warning. Father was home.
“I was just looking at some…things.” She tried and failed to hastily cover the plethora of photos with her covers. Her father clucked his tongue disapprovingly.
“Things? How descriptive. Let me see what things have my daughter breaking curfew on a school night.” He pulled the covers back and his face morphed into an expression new to Rebecca: splashed with surprise and a hint of empathy. He slowly, wordlessly gathered the pictures and sat on the bed, motioning for her to join him.
“I should’ve known you would be curious about her. I’ve never been good at this sort of thing.” He grimaced, running a hand through his greying hair.
“Just know that the reason I loved Elaina––that I love her––is because she never fit in any of the usual boxes because there was never one her size, as she claimed. She never let anyone slow her down––not even me.”
“But she left. Do you want me to leave?” Rebecca knew it sounded silly but she needed to question her father’s admiration of the woman who essentially broke him.
“I don’t resent her, and, judging by this scene, I don’t think you do either.”
Rebecca shrugged in agreement. It was true. The woman with the rosy lips and mirthful eyes was someone she revered. She wasn’t particularly bitter.
“Keep the pictures. You’re in need of a female role model and she may be a good fit even if she isn’t here. She’s still your mother.” With that, her father exited the room without waiting for her response.
He’s never been a good listener, Rebecca thought. It’s a good thing I am.
She pulled a pale pink sweater from her closet and laid it out for the next morning before promptly slipping into bed and gazed upon the darkness outside her window until she fell asleep. It was vaguely reminiscent of a curtain of ebony partially shrouding the moon’s pallid face.
Sana Hameed is a young writer inspired by other art forms including photography. She also blogs for jaBlog!