Thursday, October 22, 2009


Juliet struggles to find her own voice, while caring for her bipolar mother.  Juliet began as a character in a novel, Let Her Cry, which is waiting for a rewrite, perhaps will be my next big project.

Juliet:  Last night I was writing a song.  It was about Michael, and it was going along fine, if a little corny.  I was singing and strumming my guitar, “You are the riches/You are the king/You are the future/Whatever that brings…”
     Then came pounding on the front door, and Dad trying not to yell, just to be heard – “Marnie, open up!  Marnie, please –“
     Dad’s river-wild, stage-strong movie voice was cut short by the door
Open again, and then
     My mother was crying in her show-voice, the one I think of as her desperately-crying-for-attention-and-love voice, this time melting into her for-the-audience-in-the-back-rows-too-darling voice.  Her combat boots pounded down the hall past my room and on into her own, where I heard her throwing, tearing, destroying.  And of course crying.  Gasping, sobbing, sucked-up screaming…
     My strum changed to minor chords, loud and abrupt and accompanied by “Shut up shut up shut up now!” angrily sung by me in my quietly-absorbing-everything-and-never-complaining voice.  My parents wouldn’t hear me.  I didn’t want them to.  I didn’t want to make things worse.
     But of course my mother couldn’t keep everything to herself, nope, she had to begin shoving photo after photo under my door, pictures she’d torn herself out of.  She knew how to make an entrance.  I wished I could be so talented, grabbing all the attention for myself -- and then Michael would love me, I thought as my mother scratched the outside of my door with her long fingernails. I dropped my guitar and my selfish thoughts, and ran to her, flinging open my bedroom door and allowing her to fall against me.  She was so tiny, and I was so gi-normous, her head tucked under my chin, and her drippy, sobbing, scrunchy-face pressed against my chest as if she were the child and I were the adult.
     “She shouldn’t – you shouldn’t –“ My father said from just behind her.
     “It’s okay, Mama.  I’ve got you now.”
     “They hated me!  I hate myself!  Everyone hates me!”
     “I don’t hate you Mama—“
     “Jules…” my father said, then sighed and backed away, disappearing back down the hall and into the living room.
     He turned on the stereo, and now it was as if Mama and I had a soundtrack.  Our lives were a play or a movie, and maybe this wasn’t how normal kids lived, but at least in this movie, I was a star.  Not like my mother, but a leading role at least.  A pivotal part.
     “Let her cry… if the tears fall down like rain/ Let her sing… if it eases all her pain/ Let her go…”
     Oh no!  Not Hootie!  I stepped back into my room as my mother ran down the hall to go and kill my father.
     “And if the sun comes up tomorrow/ Let her be…”
     “Oww for fuck’s sake Marcie, you—“
     I closed my door, realizing sadly that I might have to settle for a supporting role after all.


  1. Hi Shelly, I loved the story and am starting to look forward to Thursdays now to read them!
    Have Fun!
    Mike Keller

  2. Ouch. These things hit too close to home for me. The memories are old, but right near the surface. Mom is bipolar, not diagnosed until last year. We lived with this drama queen as kids, my sister, brother and I. Sometimes I wish I could excise memories.

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