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Sitting on the mahogany bench, I waited for the hands of fate to unveil my future. I waited for some pretentious old man, with a heightened sense of self given to him by a university, to divide me up like I’m property. While I have a particular distaste for the situation, I suppose the ends justify the means; his utterance will finally bring a conclusion to our familial civil war. The robed reaper pushed his glasses up his bony crooked nose and let out in a commanding voice, “With the power invested to me by the state of Pennsylvania, I hereby grant the father, Franklin Maynard, full custody of Bart Maynard.”
It’s hard to believe that one sentence from somebody you’ve never met can have such a reverberating impact on your life. There’s a good chance that I’ll never see my mother again and in the best case scenario, I’ll only see her once in a blue moon. But to be honest, I’d rather my dad have custody as opposed to my mother. At least my dad has the ability to feel some sort of emotion. My mother is, for lack of a better phrase, a heartless shrew. I’m simply torn in the sense that I’m supposed to love my mother but when I look at her, I feel a blood curdling disgust arise in me. I often look in the mirror to try to find differences in our appearances in order to maintain the thought that I was switched with another baby at birth.
It’s hard to admit that I hate my mother as she is an intricate part of who I am. However, she ironically used to tell me to treat others the way that you want to be treated. She earned my affection, or lack thereof. As long as I can remember, she has never cared for anything or anybody except for herself. Actually, I lied; she loves one thing more than anything in the world, and that’s alcohol. She can’t afford to purchase me a Christmas present, or even a card for that matter, but she sure can buy a cheap bottle of whiskey. I will never forget that day. Hark, the unholy angel clumsily sang until she passed out into a drunken stupor on the coffee table, spilling the remnants of her bottle onto the carpet. I really wish that was an isolated incident but in all honesty it was just another day for her.
Last November, my mother forgot my birthday – my birthday. How do you forget the day most people refer to as the greatest day of their lives? More importantly, how do you forget the bone trembling agony of another body separating from yours juxtaposed with the stampede of elation at seeing your seed sprouting? I remember coming home from school, eagerly awaiting an acknowledgement from her in order to validate the magnitude of my sixteenth year on Earth. I went seeking my mother as my father worked late at his job. After rushing through every room in the house and the illogical opening of the pantry door to make sure that she wasn’t hiding from me, I found her on the porch with a beer in hand. I anxiously blurted, “Hey mom, you know what day it is, right? Is there anything you’d like to say to me?”
I had no such luck. I didn’t receive so much as a reassuring smile. I got a sloppily slurred, “No clue, now go do your homework and leave me be. You know it’s mommy-time.”
It would be an understatement to say that I was devastated. I was flabbergasted by the fact that my mother has the audacity to forget the most important day of both of our lives and simply wave me off. It was a harsh reality that she loved alcohol more than her own son. I suppose that a rum and coke offered a sort of comfort that I never could.
After the custody hearing, my father decided that he wanted to take me to Punxsutawney the next day to watch some superstitious buffoons crowd around a mystical groundhog that apparently has the ability to see into the future. When we arrived there, our car was engulfed in a sea of black and white as tuxedo clad men gathered around a grounded mound in the city. My dad asked, “Are you excited to see if this wretched cold is gone for the year?”
I faked a smile, “Yeah, of course.”
I appreciated his effort to help me get my mind off of things. However, I can’t just abandon my feelings. I can’t just forget that my mother doesn’t love me or simply has the empathy of a sociopath. I can’t just forget that the fabric of my life was just scissored in two, the threads fraying at the ends. I wanted to belch out my frustrations. I wanted to let the world know my anger. Most importantly, I wanted my father to know. I wanted to let him know how I felt about the situation regardless of the impact it would have. It would be nice to know that I have somebody in my corner.
As the fat bearded man climbed onto the stage, he stumbled a bit. Awkwardly laughing it off, he began his introductory spiel, “Hey folks, how’s it going today? Good? Good. Phil is ready to come out of the hole. Are you ready to know whether or not we’re going to have six more weeks of winter? Here he comes!”
The pudgy little creature poked his head out of his hole. He squirmed out of the burrow of the oak tree into the arms of his handler. As the man picked up the groundhog, my dad said, “Son, I’m sorry about what happened with your mother. I really wish that it could have worked out. We tried. We really did. We just did what we thought was best for the both of us. If you want to see her, just tell me and I’ll make it happen.”
“I’m fine, Dad, thanks.”
I didn’t know of any words appropriate enough to describe my sentiments. I was glad that my dad cared enough to let me see my mother despite their problems. However, I think that I’ll be just fine with him as we live the bachelor’s life.
A nice cool breeze filled the air as the handler proclaimed that Phil did not see his shadow, and we would be entering directly into spring.