By Jim Harrington
My mother sits across from me, a sliver of white slip visible beneath the hem of her wool skirt. She looks out the window of the single room that’s now her home, a question forming in her mind. It’s the same one she always asks.
My answer is the same each time, too. One she struggles to process, but eventually accepts. I can tell her the truth. She won’t remember what I say any longer than she remembers what she eats for lunch. But I don’t. Ignorance is less painful than truth.
I used to regret lying to my mother. Not anymore. The truth might do more damage, like when she shut down after my older sister, Susan, died. I tell mom the truth about Susan, though. A tumor the doctors found too late is more acceptable to a woman of mom’s upbringing than carbon monoxide poisoning, in Germany, in a car, with a married man, while serving in the army.
“Do you know how Kathryn died?” she asks.
I glance at the picture of my other sister, Kathryn, part of a family montage pinned to a corkboard hanging on the wall.
“No, Mom. They never told us what happened.”
I look her straight in the eye, sincere, remorseless, and thank God she’s the way she is.
Copyright ©2011 Jim Harrington. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce in any form, including electronic, without the author’s express permission.
Jim Harrington discovered flash fiction in 2007, and he’s read, written, studied, and agonized over the form since. His recent stories have appeared in Flashshot, A Twist of Noir, The Short Humour Site, Thrillers, Killers N Chillers, and others. Jim's Six Questions For . . . blog provides editors and publishers a place to “tell it like it is.”