‘Your Mother Imagines You Dead’, by Bethany Marcel
Read it here in about 5 minutes.
Thinking about why I love it…
I don’t have children, but I do have anxiety, so can appreciate what the protagonist experiences in this story – the all-consuming, exhausting, worry. This line in particular speaks to me: ‘Anxiety believes if she rehearses tragedy she’ll prevent tragedy.’
I love the repetition of ‘imagines you dead’, culminating in ‘dead, dead, dead, dead’ in the penultimate paragraph – it’s shocking, dark, and honest.
I love the way the narrative is structured – present time, therapist, present time, future (‘summertime’, ‘wintertime’), therapist, backwards in time, forwards in time, present time.
I love that the narrator is addressing ‘you’; and the protagonist is ‘your mother’.
There are layers of meaning – a lot that could be read between the lines, even in such a short story: the mother character is unnamed (universal?); the mother is the primary caregiver; the dad is oblivious, or when he does notice things it’s the mother who deals with them…