Monday, April 30, 2012

Day One Hundred Twenty-One: "Sleepover" by Roxana Robinson

Degradation. Acceptance.

A man suffers the ultimate humiliation as he is forced to answer questions for the first time when his children ask where their mother goes one night a week. These "sleepovers" seem to serve as a rejuvenating force for the woman who returns each week as a new woman, a better mom, a changed spirit. But this is just the overview. The opening scene of the story sets the tone for how painful the ending will be when this father/daughter confrontation finally occurs.

A mother stands in a bathroom applying calamine lotion to her young daugther's leg to treat apparent poison ivy. The girly simply asks her mother, what happens if it itches me during the night and the mom flatly replies that the girl's father will reapply if needed. He's secondary in the mom's mind and with just that quick scene, the reader believes it too. There is more to this story that we don't know. There is more to the father that we want to know. There has to be a reason for her actions. The reader doesn't want to believe that it is as gratuitous as the story projects.

But there doesn't have to be a reason, not in the story and not in this woman's life. Once we start looking for one, we miss the bigger and more important picture. She makes a choice. It isn't a chance or random act. There is will and she is exerting it. For me, in reading the story, that idea at its core is enough.

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