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David Menefee 1,900 words

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Hayfork, CA 96041
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dave@dmenefee.com

A Mother’s Care

by David Menefee

When Dr. Angela Cooper laid her fingers on her patient’s

brow, she crossed over into the Otherworld. A wild meadow within

the forest formed around her as she arrived, alone. As sometimes

happened, her patient, a careworn woman in her fifties named

Evelyn, could not cross into this place with her.

Angela stood completely still, allowing the preternatural

clarity of the place to permeate her senses. Wild grass grew

chest-high under a warm summer sun whose rays, nevertheless,

failed to penetrate the dark eaves of the tangled wood

surrounding her. The center of the meadow was a bowl-shaped,

Her fingers wandered down to the closed eyes and fluttered cautiously against the lids. while dense undergrowth grew at the edge of the forest. Sticks and small animal bones crackled beneath her feet as she picked her way slowly through the tangled grass and wildflowers. scabbed with patches of dried fungus. she reached out and touched the bark above the eyes. ridged nose. with a single leap. offering only two skin-scratching gaps into the darkness beyond. Guardian? Childhood imaginary friend? Approaching it hesitantly. and stared at her for a moment before springing back to the edge of the clearing and. Looking in the direction from which the sound came. Hm. with closed eyes. she saw a small deer that had entered the meadow. And it looks like she’s got a thick wall between her and whatever she’s repressed. She began to walk toward a gnarled oak that stood out slightly from the trees. As she approached the tree. It was rough and dry. she noticed with a shiver that there was a face in the trunk. It was wild-eyed and breathing heavily. whose branches dipped low to the ground and offered meager shade. Suddenly there was a crash in the undergrowth and Angela jumped with a small yelp. and grimly moss-bearded mouth. Menefee / Mother / 2 boggy depression near where she had arrived. bounding over the tangled buckbrush and disappearing back . Depression.

but manageable. “Wait! I’m not going to hurt you. crunching sound of approach. banished to some refuge deep in the unconscious. dusting off her hands. Then she spotted Angela. The instinct to flee. Angela gasped in shock as she fell to . not good. muddy girl entered the meadow. and her eyes grew wide as she turned to run. deer-like. The inner child. Now she heard a more measured cracking. The little girl paused uncertainly. but she was wary and quiet. yes. digging into her pockets. but did not bound back into the darkness from which she had come. Menefee / Mother / 3 into the forest. she turned to face the intruder. “Who’s there?” Her quavering voice was barely audible. while the girl visibly struggled with her instinct to flee. So far so… well. She glanced up at the girl. and. unmoving. And now we get one of the Players. In her profession. she needed to be ready for just such an eventuality. I’ve got some candy. ducked her head and smiled. wild-haired.” Angela raised her hands in a peaceable gesture. Her face was streaked with tear-tracks.” Angela continued. A small. wrapped peppermint sucker. Angela waited. Hands grasped her shoulders from behind and roughly pushed her to the meadow floor. “Look. and she held out her open palm on which rested a small.

then. were surrounded by glaring eyes and angry scowls. A movement caught her eye. Striding out from between two of the trees and parting the buckbrush effortlessly . Not a Guardian. “Who are you?” Angela shouted.” Soon this became an ugly chant coming from all around. anyway. and soon Angela and the girl. Not yet. “You’re ugly!” “You got what you deserved. diseased branches. Scrambling out of reach. One of her ‘voices.’ “Don’t touch anyone. she rose to her feet and stood.” “You’re a bad girl.” boomed a voice from behind Angela. Turning her head. The girl behind Angela whimpered. interposing herself between the tree and the child.” “You’re a bad girl. There was a rustling in the undergrowth. but she resisted the urge to turn to comfort the child. and the gnarled hands at the ends of its branches were clenched into fists. The voices stilled abruptly. who had come to stand behind her. More trees stirred.” shouted another tree. an elder with nearly nude. This was not the time. Angela saw that it was the tree which had spoken. “Bad girls don’t get any candy. and she saw another tree moving in the windless heat. Menefee / Mother / 4 her knees.

and was rewarded with a momentary glimpse which made her blood run cold. and a smaller person. How dare you?” Now we’re getting somewhere. . Crossing her massive arms under her bosom. “I am her mother. She shifted her bulk uncomfortably. but she had vanished. and a flickering movement caught Angela’s eye.” she said. Behind the woman. “I’m hungry. Angela turned her head to glance back at the girl. Sidling slowly to one side. Menefee / Mother / 5 was a tall. solidly built woman. “I’m a friend. Go away!” The woman made shooing motions with her arms.” she said. There was an adult man. I’m here to help…” “We don’t need your help. The woman’s mouth dropped open as she stared. “Bad girls don’t get any cookies. but did not approach any nearer. playing out some drama that had been buried in Evelyn’s unconscious. she glared at Angela with a bulldog expression. something was happening amongst the trees. dressed in a flower print dress and a floury apron. Flour? Apron? Let me guess… she uses food to protect herself. then her mouth snapped shut as she crossed her arms again. and looked back at the woman. Time for the big guns. she sought a better view. Angela said aloud. Angela sighed.

Angela began walking slowly toward the center of the meadow without losing eye contact with the woman. “So what did the little ‘tart’ do?” Angela asked. but her feet remained rooted to the spot. I know it. Her eyes tracked Angela as she continued moving slowly toward the bog. There’s something here I can use. but she knew that if she took her eyes off the Mother she would probably disappear and Angela would need to start over. She’s keeping the whole place stagnant. She’s a liar!” She threw up her hands in a wild gesture. Now the woman’s face had a puzzled expression. pleasantly. “What are you doing?” . This required some finesse on her part as the footing was treacherous. “She drove my man away with her accusations is what she did. I need to catch her off-guard. Menefee / Mother / 6 “What about bad mothers? What do you get?” Angela crossed her own arms. “I was a good mother! I gave her everything and look what she did! The little tart!” The woman shook a finger threateningly. The woman actually growled. First thing to do is get to where the power is. Depression is often suppressed anger. He didn’t do anything to her.

. but caught herself just in time. Satisfied. I am. “Yes. A little closer… done. Yes. staring at Angela. This might work. she turned on her most brilliant smile and looked directly at the woman’s face as. The woman stood for a moment. and tried to gauge where she stood in relation to the bog without lowering her gaze. Angela got her knees under her and clambered back to her feet. But she’s a bad.” It looked like she was perhaps twenty feet from the bog now. Angela stopped walking. “Yes. and…” “You’ve done everything you could to raise her right. “Do you want your little girl to behave?” Angela asked. Careful. She did not dare to lose sight of the woman now. “That’s all I ever wanted. her voice quavering. with consummate grace. then. She nearly looked down.” the woman said. “Yes. Menefee / Mother / 7 Angela stumbled as her foot slipped on a concealed stick and she put out her hand to break her fall. Or maybe I should take a pratfall… Humor can release powerful emotions.” She kept sidling. she collapsed into the bog with a splash. But did I ever get any thanks…” “You’re a very good mother. bad girl. Cautiously. lifting each foot carefully before each step. Don’t take a header now.” she said.

“Get down. A fountain of muddy water shot high into the air. she arose like a muddy Aphrodite to face the Mother once again. it’s going to blow…!” At that moment. Menefee / Mother / 8 She could not avoid taking her eyes off the woman now as she tried to recover her footing. Dripping with mud and muck. the entire forest around the meadow began to sway in the windless heat. “Ah-ha-ha… ooh. who was doubled over and convulsing with mirth. though Angela could not tell whether it was with indignation or some other emotion. The woman had both hands to her mouth. and her entire frame was quivering. Alarmed. flinging unnameable chunks of debris in all directions. I never…” Angela glanced back at the bog and saw that the ground was steadily rising. and then the ground itself began to shake.” she gasped. as if pushed from below by mighty pressure. Both Angela and . As if on cue. “Oh. she closed the gap between her and the Mother swiftly. Angela stumbled several times as she approached the woman. Scrambling to get out of the boggy depression. Then all doubt was banished as the woman threw back her head and howled with laughter. but the sudden horrified gasp told her that she still had an audience. an enormous explosion rocked the meadow. An enormous hissing sound emanated from the trees.

let it all out. nearly buried in the grass.” she said to no one. the mud fountain transformed into a geyser of clear water. Angela reached out to steady the Mother. She walked along the increasing length of it until the light changed and her ears popped. with a vast flatulent sound.” She began walking back toward what was now a clear spring bubbling out of the center of the meadow. Menefee / Mother / 9 the woman were spattered with more of the muck as they crouched. Then. a howl arose. . Then Angela gasped as the chill water from the geyser sluiced down. and as she pulled her wet hair out of her eyes she saw that the center of the meadow had subsided and the fountain had stopped as suddenly as it had started. but at the moment she touched the woman’s shoulder she vanished. She was standing in the living room. a small irregular patch of dingy carpeting. “It’s okay. The ground stopped shaking. “Well. “Time to get back. she stared down as it began to grow. drenching her immediately. quietly sobbing. next to where Evelyn was lying on the couch. She bent and gently caressed the woman’s head. “Let’s see… carpeting?” She hunted for nearly ten minutes before she found. seemingly from the air itself.” she said soothingly. Stepping firmly on it. At that moment.

That night. She was a new woman. Angela slept dreamlessly. there was no mistaking it. But when Evelyn turned to her sister and smiled through fresh tears. having returned to her condo. they were amazed to find Angela and Evelyn chatting amiably over tea. . Menefee / Mother / 10 When Evelyn’s sister and her family returned an hour later.

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