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She is lying on the floor, smoking.
“You shouldn’t have said that, you know,” I say, looking at her.
She shrugs and grinds her cigarette into the ground, the ashes scattering into a perfect circle around the lipstick-stained butt.
“Turn the lights on, would you?” I do, and she rolls herself slowly into a sitting position, eyeing me. “You come to lecture me?”
“No.” I sit down next to her. Her body feels strange and forbidden and I can see her skeleton through the leaking folds of flesh on her arms. The cracked strains of a radio hum through the thin walls.
“You shouldn’t have said that,” I say again.
I can see the memory flash through her eyes, the boy punching the door on his heels, the stain of wine from the glass she broke seeping through the tablecloth, blistered words still burning her lips.
“He’s not even my kid,” she tells me.
“It doesn’t matter,” I say. “You’re still his mother.”
She’s rolling another cigarette between her fingers, avoiding my eyes.
“He’s going into the army after graduation.”
“Not college?” I say, and she shrugs as if it doesn’t matter but she won’t look at me.
“It’s his problem,” she says, her voice raw even through the hoarse softness of cigarette-smoked lungs.
There isn’t anything more to say, so I turn the lights off and leave.