Mother’s Voice (fiction by Ben Steele)

I’m standing in a kitchen, but it isn’t familiar.  I’m on the phone talking to my mother, but she isn’t my mother… she is all mothers, a piecemeal recollection of primal longings for mother.  Her voice is, at first, the voice of a mother from a tv show… now, shifting, the voice of the mother of a childhood friend.

I’m so focused on this voice that I’m barely aware of the kitchen, but I sense there are children nearby, my children.  I too am a mother.

The cord to the phone lengthens as I feel myself moving (stepping?) backwards across the kitchen floor.  In the periphery of my vision, I see flickers of movement.  I worry about the children getting tangled in the phone line.

Then, as if stepping back onto stairs that aren’t there, I’m falling.  It must be the basement I’m falling into… oh yes, there is the door to the kitchen, a framing of light.  I clutch the phone tightly, the cord still connecting me to the light above.

“Mother, are you there?”  I hear her breathing, her heartbeat.  I grip the phone against my cheek as if it were my mother’s breast.  I can now see where I am.  I’m falling down a hole, the walls almost within reach.  Faces appear in the walls, strange faces melting into one another.  They luminesce like dying lightbulbs, but when they smile and giggle I know they are my children.  I still clutch the phone and the line still stretches upwards.  I know the cord will only stretch so far before breaking.  Should I let go?

2 thoughts on “Mother’s Voice (fiction by Ben Steele)

    • I was trying to remember my inspiration for this story. It’s partly based on snippets from various dreams I’ve had over the years.

      In particular, I was trying to capture the feeling of moving/stepping/falling backward as it’s felt in a dream. The other aspect I was trying to capture is how in a dream knowledge becomes revealed as the dream shifts.

      It was difficult to capture the essence of the feeling, but I think I did a reasonable job. It was a fun story to write.

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