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It's times like this I cherish most. Nothing Times. There is a quiet, a sort of tranquility that I'm unable to experience during most waking hours, and in dreams, for that matter. I'm always running, striving, succeeding. I never stop. In Nothing Times, I feel no drive, no compulsion, no anxiety and for once, no fear. I'm at peace, if only for the moment.

Coco stares from the windowsill, whiskers alert, at the impending storm which hangs with promise over the New Orleans sky like a gift. The sky looks strange, an off-color; it's magic. Thunder rumbles far away, sounding like the belly of a man in need of a good breakfast.

The Long Arm of Mother

"The Long Arm of Mother"
by Patse Hemsley

Next door, a little below us, the green, barrel tile roof lays out like a great reptile, stretching across the field of my view, languishing in wait for the rain to bathe it. The bed could not feel softer, more nest-like: cradling and safe. Two hundred thread count Pima cotton embraces me from belly to heel. A few toes dangle in cool air, falling from the edge of the bed, as I listen to the sounds of the approaching storm. I wait.

I find myself staring at the antique fan on the bureau, and for some reason, I am reminded of my mother. I'm not sure why. We had no fan like this in our modern home when I was growing up in the early 70s. Then it dawns on me. The fan is possessing of a face-- a cute, little face. Is it my mother's face that I'm reminded of?

As I look at the simple, yet elegant, machine, I am drawn to it, endeared to it. Then, I see it. It comes to me but one glimpse at a time. The fan looks like a flower, like the face of a daisy. The blades are like petals, the center of the fan, emblazoned with the Emerson Electric logo, is much like the center of a yellow daisy which holds her future, holds her seeds.

Fascinated, I begin to realize that the fan is not just a representation of a flower, but that of a flower in a cage. This must be the way my father must have seen my mother-- as a possession, as a beautiful object, one to rule and to keep locked away. And yet, if I wanted to save this fan-flower, to release it from its wiry metal prison, surely my hand would be severed, were the fan to be activated.

Now I know. Now I understand. No one could get close enough to know my mother, no one could get in there in order to save her. No one could rescue my mother without coming to great harm themselves... especially a girl, especially me, one with tender, small child's hands. No, I could not. I did not possess the power. I always felt I'd failed.

In a similar conundrum, to pluck the blades from a fan would render the machine useless. And to pluck a daisy from the field would only lead it to more quickly wither and die. The fan has its purpose to serve. The daisy does, too. There is beauty and comfort in this world for others, and suffering, sometimes, for those who provide it. She was beautiful. She was comfort. It did not last.

No, I could not rescue my mother, just as she could not rescue me. No one could save me from the damage my father had already done, just as no one could save my mother from the damage her father had already done. No one can liberate me now but myself, my grown self. I must nurture my inner child and cherish her with an unconditional love that no parent had the tools or the capacity to offer.

And if my mother is like the beautiful daisy, and I am her daughter, then call me her promising seed. And if my mother is like the fan, and I am her offspring, then call me her soothing wind. Let me be the cool air that sails from her sharp, untouchable blades. Call me free. Call me alive. Call me a woman.

Jamie Joy Gatto is a New Orleans writer, editor, bisexual advocate and columnist whose work appears regularly on-line at suspect thoughts, CleanSheets, and in Mind Caviar of which she is Editor-in-chief. Her short fiction has appeared in Black Sheets, The Unmade Bed, Best Bisexual Erotica, Unlimited Desires. She has recently completed her first collection of short fiction, Melpomene in Ecstasy: Stories of Sex, Death and Loss which is currently under consideration by Circlet Press. You may visit her work on-line at http://www.mindcaviar.com/bi/jamiejoygatto.html.

Also in Song and Story:
Zarina's Castle    Empowering Chicks   
Human Beings in the Mirror of the Universe   

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