Elliott’s mother fell asleep in the bathtub. She spent days in bed without eating. When Elliott’s father returned from a trip, however; she came alive in a cloud of perfume and lipstick.
She grabbed a jacket and turned to leave, only something about Elliott’s appearance alarmed her. “What’s the matter?” she asked.
Elliott glanced at his father, who was standing under the kitchen light, watching his wife and son carefully. “Nothing, mom,” he said. He wanted to ask whether she really had to go. He didn’t want to be alone with his father, or forced outside with only a blind chance of finding somewhere to stay warm.
“You're sick,” she said, cupping his chin in the palm of her hand.
“No, I’m not,” he said, jerking his face away.
“You're so pale,” she said.
His father laughed.
“I’m fine,” Elliott said, staring at the tile between his mother’s feet. She brushed his hair away from his forehead.
“Do you need me?” she asked, wrapping her arms around him. He thought he might suffocate in the smell of perfumed honeysuckle and vanilla. It wasn’t an entirely unpleasant thought, dying that way.
His father would be hating this. He would be burning up with jealousy. Elliott wondered if his mother did this on purpose. The truth was, though, that she behaved this way every time she was relatively sober, even when his dad was away. She probably noticed, in these moments, what she wasn’t seeing most of the time: that her son was deeply and undeniably unhappy.
“Look at him,” she said, guiding Elliott by the arm into the light of the kitchen. “Doesn’t he look pale?”
“The boy is fine,” his father said. “Let him go, for fuck's sake."
Elliott felt like saying, “I'm not. I'm not fine.”
“Enough,” he said, instead.
“Okay,” she whispered. There were tears in her eyes. Everything was still and quiet, except for the beating of Elliott's heart.
This piece is an entry in the Trifecta Writing Challenge. This week we had to write 33-333 words using the 3rd definition of the word, blind.