My mother tells her future husband what he means to her by saying to him, “Silly, silly man.” At the same time she tells me what I mean to her by easing my passage into and through this world by way of her own sweat and blood and never once complaining. Not once. In broken English, she’ll tell me, in Moscow, a serial killer—Picushkin—once butchered sixty good people. More. No, she will answer me. Maybe they were not good. No. And meanwhile she sews and mends. She Americanizes our surname into Pincushion, unaware of how silly an act this is. Stupid name, she’ll later complain. Silly girl. Not a name at all. But for now she sews and mends. When I am eleven I will show her a clip on YouTube of a sepia-toned cartoon in which a miser (monocled, fat) plants himself by mistake upon a well-abused pincushion and is propelled by his own escaping gases into space. Where he suffocates, I suppose. “Silly, silly girl,” she says, shaking her head. To which I reply, “Do you get it?” And she nods as if she understands, then returns her attention to the reality show on Netflix on the big TV. There is a pink and silver can on a faux-crystal coaster on the end table at her side. “Do you get it?” I want to ask her again, because I don’t, but I don’t. Since marrying her new husband, she no longer sews and mends.
Colin Lubner writes (in English) and teaches (math) in southern New Jersey. His work has either appeared or will appear, temporally speaking. Recent pieces can be found through his Twitter: @no1canimagine0. He is keeping on keeping on.
image: Alan Tenhoeve