Claws Between a Mother and a Father

When I was 11, my Mom told me about the naked women hovering around the pool, each carrying a cat with eye sockets full of soil. The women were required to sing, she said, as they walked around, their feet never touching the water.

A long-haired man, standing on the corner of the pool, was checking the movements and sounds of their mouths. He was holding a knife — a thin, long, rusty knife with fish hooks on the edge. When the women reached the corner where the long-haired man was, they were obliged to ask the man to cut their fingers bit by bit — first a quarter, then half of it in the next round of their stroll around the lyrics of the song.

Those who squealed, she said, were stabbed in the opening of their mouths.

When I was 11, my Mom told me about the naked women floating on the surface of the pool with intermingling legs, unblinking eyes, and gaping holes on their heads. It was the time when she related to me the horrors of the inevitable, but she never mentioned — not ever — how she met my father, why he left before I was born and where he went. It must have been too painful for her.

Until now, I do not know what really happened between the two of them, but I’ve learned that the cats with soiled eye sockets ran frantically about, the dirt sinking to the depths of the bloody water.

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