“1986″ by Maureen Daniels


The year after my mother discovered

what would kill her was the year I let Tim

touch me in the downstairs bathroom,

door locked, candles lit, his 13th birthday

party on the other side of the wall.

 

That was the year the Challenger

exploded 73 seconds after take-off

and we were forced to look at the smiling

face of the dead school teacher amidst

all those astronauts, the bubble of her helmet

held on her lap like a third child.

 

That was the year my mother took me

to meet the machine that was meant

to save her. Not that I ever heard her

pray: aAt 40 she’d learned to be silent

about salvation, the hope of a life

long with age.

 

Three days after Tim’s party they took us

into the history classroom to tell us Tim

was dead. Later, at the funeral, I was told

he shot himself in the head and I pictured

that candlelit bathroom, how I’d hated his

tongue pushing into my mouth, his hand

fumbling beneath my fabrics, and that

picturesque blood on the white wall, the

splatter of him another stain on that year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maureen Daniels grew up in England and Northern California. She has a B.A. from CUNY Hunter College and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from CUNY City College. She is the winner of The Doris Lipmann Prize, The Stark Short Fiction Award, The Audre Lorde Award, and others. Her poems and short stories have appeared in publications such as Lambda Literary, Pindeldyboz, Nibble, Scapegoat Review, and others. She currently lives in New York City with her family and a Dalmatian named Pink.