"The Blouse" by Carolyn R. Russell
I struggle out of a thickly layered dream; something shifts in my chest and grows heavy. My mother is shaking my arm. I can see by the faint light the moon is throwing through the bedroom window that she’s got her scary smile on, the one that says she’s being reasonable, it’s us that are crazy, driving her to say and do things she wishes she didn’t have to.
She wants her blouse back.
What blouse I ask, trying to focus. You know, she says. The blue one with green flowers on it.
This is a blow, as I have eaten myself out of most of my own clothing and need this top that my mother, in desperation, has bestowed upon me. Her thinking is that it’s ridiculous to waste good money on clothes that won’t fit me in three weeks and maybe having nothing to wear will motivate me to be more sensible.
She says again that she wants her blouse back. Now.
I look at my alarm clock. It’s 2:45 am. I get out of bed, trying not to wake my sister on the other side of the room, and find the blouse in my closet, paired with a faded denim skirt. My outfit for school tomorrow. I hand it to her, and she does this thing I dread most, a stiff-necked nod meant to convey that okay, we’re square, all’s right with the world. I get back into bed.
In the morning, I know, she won’t say a word to me, and I’ll be invisible to her for three or four days. Maybe longer.