Mama (Story by R.C. Peris)

Three little girls. All in a row. And then there were none. Good night, girls. Good night, mama. I told my husband I couldn’t do it anymore. That was after I gave birth to the baby. Judy with the dark curls. The next day he left work early and took me to a clinic. Doctor Blahblahblah. Some Indian name. He was gracious. Gracious and clueless.

“Oh, you’re fine,” he said with hands lifted to the heavens. “You love your babies. You may have a little postpartum depression. A little. I will prescribe Prozac. See me in four weeks. Now, go home and love your babies.”

My husband grasped my hand. “See. You’re fine. Just a little depression. Let’s go home.”

Can you have a little depression? Is there a glass filled with depression somewhere and I took a small sip? I don’t think the doctor and I culturally clicked. I imagined his wife in a sari, wiping his children’s noses, making them do homework and dutifully serving him curry each night. Doctor. I was in advertising in New York. Doctor. I went to Wellesley. Doctor. I’m bored with my babies. Tired of them. And I’m also afraid. Quivering with anxiety. I don’t think I love my husband anymore. When Judy was born he took her from my arms.

“A girl. If we have to have eight girls to get one boy we will do it.” He kissed Judy’s flattened hair. We? My husband was rigid about gender roles. He was religious. Born again. Each night he prayed for our children and another child. I screamed and cried. He didn’t take me seriously. Even Doctor Blahblahblah chuckled at my plight.

Off to work my husband went. Sandy had diarrhea that I had to clean. Mindy had a runny nose and coughed into my mouth. Judy vomited on my shirt. Damn it. Get me out of here. I swallowed Prozac. A tiny pill. Low dosage. What was that doctor thinking? Can no one hear me? I don’t like being a mother. I don’t want to be a mother. Why can’t anyone listen?

I lined the girls up and one by one and drowned them in the tub. I laid them up on the living room carpet and waited in blissful silence until my husband came home.

“Look at your fucking kids. Can you take me seriously now?”

“What have you done?” He screamed. What had I done? I looked at their wet bodies. Greek myths and fairy tales are rife with mothers killing their children. It can’t be unnatural if that’s what women do. Sometimes. I cried. I felt sorry for the girls, but the bulk of my pity I reserved for myself. Mama.

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