When I was off on leave, sometimes I would ask friends to send me random ideas or sentence starters to spark my brain for writing ideas. Most of these were utter failures since I’m typically dreadful at writing fiction, but then there was this glorious phrase:
“Fetch me some of that raccoon bacon!”
This is what happened after that. I am so sorry.
“Fetch me some of that raccoon bacon!” My mother bellowed from one end of her old motor home. I walked into the tiny living room. Two hours into this visit and I’m already developing a headache from her shrill voice bouncing off these thin tin walls.
“Raccoon bacon!” Her rickety old recliner shook as she adjusted her weight. I looked at her in horror. I can’t believe we were still having this same conversation.
“No. Mom. You didn’t.” I put my hands over my face and sighed heavily. The last time she did this, she ended up in the hospital with food poisoning and suspected rabies. I can’t tell you how embarrassing it is to sit beside your mother while she explains the delicate process of scooping up a dead animal, skinning it, preparing a marinade and frying it on the grill. I’ll never forget the look in that doctor’s eyes when mother assured him it was safe because she “eats around the gravel”. I didn’t want to spend my weekend in the hospital being judged by a team of medical professionals.
“Now fetch me that ‘coon meat. Mama is hungry!” She grunted and pointed to the tiny fridge. I know full well that my mother is a little…off, but she’s still my mother. She makes terrible decisions, but she always has, and that’s what makes her charming most of the time. Her imagination made my childhood interesting. We’d spend hours playing make believe and turning ourselves into different characters for weeks on end. As the withdrawn, shy person I was (and still am), I came alive when I got to be someone else. I could hoot and holler and carry on in public, because I knew I wasn’t actually being me. I got to escape and have wild adventures. Adventures I never would have had if I was just plain old Charlotte. As I got older and more self-aware, my desire to be someone else diminished. Maybe just being me was fine. Maybe if I got to know my actual personality, not just the ones my mother projected on me, I could be someone I really liked.
“I told you that frying up road kill is not good for you.” I walked over to the fridge and slowly opened the door, fully preparing to see a plate with a raccoon head sitting on top of it. I was relieved to discover that this “raccoon bacon” wasn’t as horrifying as I had imagined. To the untrained eye, it was just a pile of unidentifiable strips of meat. Unfortunately, my eye has become far too “trained” this past year. I know the difference between rabbit, raccoon and pigeon.
“No way! I ain’t payin’ 10 bucks a pound for brisket when I can get tasty jerky for free at the roadside café.” She chuckled at her own joke.
“This is disgusting,” I whispered as I picked up the plate and handed it to her, trying not to breathe too deeply. It reminded me of the time we pretended we were pirates looking for a chest full of exotic cheeses and hid the treasure somewhere in the house. Mother forgot where she put it, and we only found it weeks later when it started to smell like gym socks.
“You’re a sweet girl, Shirlene.” This was the name she had given me when she entered her “trailer park” phase.
“It’s Charlotte, Mom. Just because you live in the armpit of Ontario, doesn’t mean you have to act the part.” The look on her face made me immediately regret what I said. It was the same look she gave me when I was fifteen and said I didn’t want to bring friends over because she embarrassed me.
“You hush now, child! Mama taught you not to speak ill of Windsor. It’s my hometown, whether you like it or not.” She gnawed on a piece of meat in defiance. I felt the blood starting to rise to my face. Enough was enough. I couldn’t live like this anymore.
If you have a strange sentence starter for me, feel free to leave it in the comments.