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Mother's House

by jellyfish505


Stepping outside, the numbing sensation of dread festers in my stomach.

I don’t want to go.

The pressure globs up, choking me. Returning to my mother’s house has that effect.

My mother tries, she really does. If she respects you, she offers smiles and caring touches. Unfortunately, winning her affection is a risky game. I’m still suffering from the consequences of losing.

I sigh.

I can’t think like this now. When she greets me, I need to look happy to see her.

Snatching the keys from my pocket, I unlock the car and sink into the front seat.

This trip was set back for too many months. She might be getting suspicious, but I have no regrets about the delay.

That house forced me into a detached headspace. Striped away from my personality, I robotically completed simple tasks for my mother. My purpose was to smile appropriately, engage in small talk and make her feel appreciated.

It’s exhausting.

Checking over my shoulder, I back into the road. This drive should only take 45 minutes.

* * *

The house looks the same. The mailbox on the porch is overflowing, some envelopes lying on the ground. Most of its probably junk mail. Does she expect me to sort through it? The plants in the yard are shrivelled up, fried by the unrelenting sun. It’s all so sickeningly familiar.

Creaking the door open, the stench of rotten food slaps me in the face.

I gag, stumbling backwards. Leaning against the wall, I pant into the sleeve of my hoodie. Take quick, shallow breaths. Inside, the food recycling bucket sits on the bench, mocking me.

She probably expects me to take it outside. Am I supposed to do that before or after I greet her? She’ll probably find a fault either way. If I greet her first, will she scold me for being lazy and not taking it outside? Or if I throw it out first, will she be annoyed that I smell like rotten food? Why is this so complicated?

An overweight orange cat pads over to me. Sunny. The only good part of this visit. Scratching between his ears, I grin. So fluffy. The sweetest boy.

My mother must have heard me enter by now. Why isn’t she here? Sunny usually sticks by her side.

Is she mad? Have I delayed this visit for too long? Is she trying to avoid getting angry by not talking to me? Wheezing, I try to suck air past the panic bubbling in my throat.

Stepping into the kitchen, she stands at the stove, turned away from me.

The bubbling of the soup echoes in my ears. I don’t know what to expect. Am I in trouble? The crushing weight on my chest is suffocating

“Hi honey, did you take out the food recycling?”

The pressure snakes down, allowing me to gasp in a breath. Oh good, it’s just a normal visit. She was just busy cooking.

“No, sorry. I wanted to say hi first.”

“Can you do that for me? It would help a lot.”

“Of course.”

Turning around, she smiles. “Good girl. I can always rely on you, honey.”

I make eye contact and smile back, it’s the appropriate thing to do.

"What are you waiting for?”

“Ah, sorry. I’ll go do that now.”


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51 Reviews


Points: 2346
Reviews: 51

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Tue Jan 25, 2022 3:37 pm
PoetryMisfit wrote a review...



Hello Jellyfish505, I thought I'd leave a quick review.

Your first sentence immediately had me hooked. It set the tone well for the protagonist's anguish.
"The pressure globs up, choking me. Returning to my mother’s house has that effect." This is just me, but I feel like there's a better word that can be used here in place of "globs". It felt a little distracting from the emotions portrayed here.
"Striped away from my personality, I robotically completed simple tasks for my mother." Minor correction: striped should be spelled stripped.
I did notice some inconsistencies with the tense, it fluctuated from past to present tense through your verb usage.
"The house looks the same. The mailbox on the porch is overflowing, some envelopes lying on the ground. Most of its probably junk mail. Does she expect me to sort through it? The plants in the yard are shrivelled up, fried by the unrelenting sun. It’s all so sickeningly familiar." I like your use of imagery here because it amplifies the protagonist's negative feeling she associates with the house.
There's clearly a past of hurt that resurfaces in this experience, but the mother's actions seem to almost contrast how the protagonist perceives her. It makes me wonder if the mom has changed but the protagonist has a hard time seeing past the hurt.
You did a good job portraying the protagonist's perspective in your story, I felt like I was inside her head.
I hope you decide to add to this story one day, it has a lot of potential.

Thank you for sharing,
Poetry Misfit




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64 Reviews


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Reviews: 64

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Fri Jan 21, 2022 3:38 pm
Rosewood wrote a review...



Hey, Rosewood here!

First off, I wanna clarify that I understand the perception of this character so well and I think that you executed the feelings perfectly. The building horror, the tension present, the "off-feeling ending", (which I will get to later), all contribute to this constant uneasy feeling one could experience with a bad relationship with one's parent. But enough chit-chat, let me dive into the smaller chunks.

Stepping outside, the numbing sensation of dread festers in my stomach


No big deal, just a missing period.

That house forces me into a detached headspace. Striped away from my personality, I robotically complete simple tasks for my mother. My purpose is to smile appropriately, engage in small talk and make her feel appreciated.


This could be just me, but I was a little confused at this part. For a second I thought the main character had reached the house already and begun chores, only to leave when you said "Checking over my shoulder, I back into the road. This drive should only take 45 minutes". If I were to suggest anything, maybe change the present form of the verbs and make them past tense. That way when you say "it's exhausting", you're switching it up and reassuring your readers that it's still a present thing without changing up the tense of the story.

“No, sorry. I wanted to say hi first.”

“Can you do that for me? It would help a lot.”

“Of course.”

Turning around, she smiles. “Good girl. I can always rely on you, honey.”

I make eye contact and smile back, it’s the appropriate thing to do.

"What are you waiting for?”

“Ah, sorry. I’ll go do that now.”


Ah, you can practically feel the tension in this conversation. I actually really like how openly this ends and it makes us as readers feel so cut off. It makes you realize that this glimpse of a troubled relationship is all there is- nothing deeper- and that connection has already been severed.

In conclusion, I honestly enjoyed this short story as it captured the experience rather well.

And as always...

Keep writing!




jellyfish505 says...


Thank you so much for the review! I can definitely see how switching the tense of the indicated paragraph makes it more clear.



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275 Reviews


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Reviews: 275

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Thu Jan 20, 2022 2:30 pm
MissGangamash wrote a review...



This was a very simple piece but also very effective. I understand this completely. It was like this when I came back home from uni and my parents just expected me to slip back into my role in the house even though I felt like I had changed - and tbh had completely forgotten. Then was called 'selfish' for not immediately slotting myself into my daily chores.

The inner thoughts of the narrator are also very relatable. The overthinking and constant worry that they needed to do everything right.

At first I did think maybe the mum was dead, by the state of the house... I think I read/write too many dark pieces so that's immediately where my head goes XD

Anyway, great, short, concise piece!




jellyfish505 says...


Thanks for the review! I'm super glad that you were able to connect with this piece.




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As my artist’s statement explains, my work is utterly incomprehensible and is therefore full of deep significance.
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