Eva Eliav

“He only left a few,” my mother complained.
        George and Linda had come by for a visit, bringing a box of chocolates. My mother had unwrapped them, and George had indulged.
        “He’s so big.” She wrinkled her nose as if George were a tumour that had grown at the expense of healthy tissue.
         “Maybe you shouldn’t have offered him the chocolates.”
        My mother’s eyes widened in disapproval. A gift of food was always opened for guests. That was taken for granted. But so was restraint. She frowned. “Linda looks fragile. That job is wearing her out.”
My sister, Linda, reminded mother of herself: feminine, delicate, heroic.
        Pointedly, she repeated, “He’s enormous.”
        I nodded, but said nothing.
        Mother sighed. “He hasn’t worked for years. Says he’s an artist.” She took a small sip of tea. “He dresses well….” She paused, then murmured, “His shirt was silk.”
        I pretended to misunderstand. “I don’t like silk,” I said, “it feels rubbery … though the colours are gorgeous.”
        Mother patted her silver curls, barely managing to hide her irritation. “Those shirts must cost a fortune.”
         “I suppose.” I swivelled my head. “I love your drapes.”
        Distracted, my mother preened. She adored her apartment, and relished admiration. “Mmm,” she said. “That soft beige is a wonderful backdrop for my plants.”
        The room was full of foliage. My mother coddled her plants and sang to them. I gazed enviously at a ficusthat filled one corner. Its leaves glistened with health.
        Mother noticed my look. “A home needs plants,” she said.
        “My apartment’s too dark,” I protested.
        “No apartment’s too dark.”
        “Maybe…someday.” I felt suddenly uneasy. Her bitter anger, thwarted, was shifting towards me. Hastily, I said, “Have you seen how George treats their puppy? Much too rough.”
        My mother’s lips twitched with satisfaction. “A bully,” she declared triumphantly. She pushed the box of chocolates in my direction. “Only a few left, darling. I saved them for you.”

Eva Eliav grew up in Toronto, Canada and now lives in Israel. Her poetry and short fiction have been published in a number of literary magazines, including Room of One’s Own, Emrys Journal, Flashquake, Horizon Review and ARC Israel. She received an honorable mention in the Glimmer Train Winter 2011 Very Short Fiction competition.

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