A Family Tale

by Ryan Rubai

When we were younger, our mother would try to smother us with our pillows. She pushed and pushed until to the point of suffocation when she let up. We would laugh and say silly mother, silly mother in a singsong voice.

Our father ignored us but we would notice him, in the living room, on his favourite chair reading the daily newspaper, eyeing us over the brim of the paper. We would sing: go away father go away father! He would walk out, shuffling his feet along the carpet.

Our mother stopped trying to smother us when we grew older. It was one time too many and the joke had worn thin. We threw her across the floor and she landed like a ragdoll. She screamed that she should have cut us out of body and drowned us. We giggled. Don’t be melodramatic mother, we said.

When we were eight, we overheard our mother and father talking about us, in the kitchen. Gregory, we need to get rid of them, mother said. Damn it Jane, they’ll hear you.

We can hear you! We burst through the door and sauntered up to our parents. They stood up and tried to walk past us. We ran around and around and around them singing: silly mother, silly father, what will we do about you?

They fell to their knees, begging us to let them go. We thought about it but we had a better idea. We saw our teddy bears. We tore them apart, grabbing the white fluff from inside and formed a big pile. We began to sing:

We’ll open you up
We’ll scoop you clean
And then, we’ll stuff, we’ll stuff
With this big pile of fluff!

Now our mother never tries to smother us or stick us in the oven and father never tries to spy on us. They sit quietly, never making a sound but sometimes they start to come apart at the seams. No bother, we say, we’ll just sew them up again!

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