Game 1: What your mother did in her room

by | Uncanny Details - Day 1

I don’t know what my mother did when she was in her room. She was working. She was working a lot. She devoted herself to family matters, making trouble. But I am convinced she did love him extremely and after he died she said that was the fact. She said a lot of things after he died. She said things to every one and no one. She said things in estranged, peculiar voices. She spoke through each hole in her body and when she was done speaking through each hole in her body she made more holes in her body until she eventually was more hole than body. Amber days split into each other. She strangled rosaries and burned through saints like they were paper.


  1. Alina Stefanescu

    Wow, Todd! The way you added onto Williams’ beginning is incredible!

    The image of speaking through holes in her body stuck in my head and felt so visceral. “More hole than body”—yes, she was all orifice. And I kept wondering if the word orifice wouldn’t be something to play with as a title for this?

    “She strangled rosaries and burnt through saints like they were paper.” Perfect image.

    If you decided to submit this as microfiction, I think you could start it “She said a lot of things after he died”: and use this as the beginning of creating the character. So I’m just going to kick this ball around for a minute…. you could, for example, start out with a description, as in “My mother would rather be dead than wear yellow and she said a lot of things after her husband died.” I’m just thinking aloud here to break off from William’s and give this character, this mother, her own beginning.

    I love these images so much and they are perfect examples of how to bring strangeness to the page.

    I’m also thinking of how Anne Carson wrote “Wrongness has its own color and it is not like anything else” (from her essay, “Totality: The Color of Eclipse”)– and how the color of wrongness might also be an idea for you to play with this in fantastically strange small piece. Thank you for sharing your work with us!

  2. Lisa Alletson

    Todd, wonderful! Hard to believe this is so short for the story it tells. I love the holes taking over the mother’s body, until she is more hole than body. And the following line that jumps away, but also makes so much sense, “Amber days split into each other.” I love this piece! I’ve read it a few times now.

  3. Len Kuntz

    Hi Todd,
    This was really stellar. So truncated, mysterious, quirky and sad. Loved the pacing. It reads like a bullet train. Truly wonderful work.

  4. Martha Jackson Kaplan

    Todd, Terrific. The image of holes, holes “until she is more hole than body.” Beautiful description. The pace quickens as you go. I love the way the intensity grows, and these last two lines, wow! “Amber days split into each other. She strangled rosaries and burned through saints like they were paper.”

    You could sharpen this a little near the beginning. “family matters” could be “family” and/ or since you move next into “him” maybe those two lines could be compressed with something more specific ––how did she trouble “the family” or specifically “him.”

    In any case, well done.

  5. John Van Wagner

    If I were inclined to be lazy I would say Yes, what they said!
    And then I would say, I think you’ve held up your end beautifully, of what Williams started, and then I would say that the fulcrum comes around “estranged, peculiar voices” leading into the rapid escalation of holes, the making of more holes, and suddenly, of course, it’s impossible to see those holes as anything other than mouths that make more and more trouble! And that this is all of a piece, and beautifully balanced, like a lightweight boomerang. The sudden shift out of the mode you’ve been in from the start is welcome, like a change of scene, and a widening of view, with “amber days split…” and I was not sure about this, trying to reconcile “split” and “into” because of course split divides and into combines and dives. But I’m sitting with it… I think I like this little “offness”. And no doubt about the last sentence, which really seems to close and refer and open up and prove the whole in magnificent ways.

  6. Jenne Hsien Patrick

    What really stood out to me is the phrase “and that is the fact” followed by “She said a lot of things after he died” and how that distances the reader from that certitude of fact. How after that everything unspools, for me that was a moment of turn and where things became revealed to not be exactly as they are. The holes – oh that multiplied layers of meaning of grief and voice, also that hole evokes whole in that sentence as well.

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