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.