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Meg Merzilus This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     I stumble down the shiny steps that reflect the morning sun, rubbing sleep from my eyes. There she sits, in her long billowy nightgown on our living room couch, fanning herself with an old issue of Newsweek, like a queen on her throne. My mother is reading Willa Cather’s My Antonia, eyes flitting across the page. Strong hands turn the pages, hands that make freshly squeezed orange juice in the morning and rub my back when I can’t fall asleep. I call her name, but her mind is in another place. She senses my gaze, looks up and smiles, happy-lines creasing her cheeks.

I watch her return to her book and ponder our differences. We don’t look anything alike. My mother’s eyes are grayish-blue and her dirty blonde hair was once golden. The strong Caribbean sun has tanned her skin to a light brown. It gives her a healthy glow, and the contrast makes her eyes an even more striking blue. She’s not vain, but my mother has always complained about her strong German nose. If you look closely, the bridge has a faint scar, the only evidence of breaking it twice.

Her voice is always full of laughter. It’s soft, with a hint of a lisp that speech therapy could not erase. When my brother and I were younger, she would read to us. Her voice mimicking the accents - Cockney, Italian, French - making the stories come alive. Our voices sound similar on the phone, sometimes tricking even my grandmother.

A straight-A student in school, my mother has a great appreciation for learning. She always has books tucked into her overflowing purse in case she finds a spare minute. Most afternoons you can find her huddled up in a rocking chair on our porch, book in hand. Her favorites are well-worn because she’s read them over and over. I’ve come to appreciate books because of her.

I admire my mother’s adventurous and brave spirit. Moving to a foreign country at the age of 22, she was somewhat naive, but she was ready to help the needy orphans of Haiti. She convinced my father to vacation in Europe, and led my family around the crowded streets of Paris and the windy, narrow alleys of Venice. Rarely complaining about our busy schedule, she withstood our constant complaining and badgering.

As I sit on the couch, watching her, I realize how beautiful my mother is. She possesses an inner beauty that radiates around her. She’s not perfect, but her self-sacrifice and honesty are qualities that I hope are visible in me as well.


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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