“There was a taut blue quality in the January light, a hardness and confidence.” – White Noise, DeLillo
I had just stepped out of the house and into the front yard after having had my mother throw vino at my feet, the jar shattering with a pop much like the requiem of insects incinerated in the zapper outside my window. It was not cold, had not been cold for days, and so I stood in shorts with my hands in fists and my teeth all clenched waiting for the pigs to come. When they came, they came snuffling. Their headlamps flashed over our six feet of gate. I hid in the orchids, under the plumeria trees, dizzy with dehydration and their sweet scent, scared of the centipedes but more scared of what my mother would say when she realized our neighbors had called the cops.
A year later, in Sapporo, we fought the same fight outside the Observatory in Nakajima Park, to an audience of snowmen. Through a mouthful of mousse, I told her how alone she made me feel, of the pieces I had bound to keep from scaring her, so I could fit into the body of a person she knew but no longer exists. We ran screaming through the snow, throwing the jagged shards of insults that at some point rounded into snowballs, after I had been bribed with more cake and she took a moment — for a drink, for a breath. There is a video, somewhere, of us later that night: my mother flying down the snowy hill from the observatory like a penguin, lying atop a borrowed boogie board we used as a sled.
I am learning, slowly, that giving birth means growing up alongside your children. That mistakes made are not from lack of love but ignorance. I hope someday to forgive her this. I don’t know if I’ll ever understand.
Mariah Rigg is a writer from Honolulu, Hawaii. Her work is featured in Hawaii Pacific Review and Yes Poetry, along with being longlisted for the Writer’s HQ Quarterly Prize, nominated for the 2019 PEN/Robert J Dau Short Story Prize, and selected as a Notable Entry for the 2020 Disquiet Literary Prize. She holds a BA from Claremont Mckenna College, where her collection of stories won Most Outstanding Thesis. Currently, she is pursuing an MFA from the University of Oregon. You can find her on Twitter @riggstah.