Mother in a Bottle

Yash Seyedbagheri

I walk past Mama every day, always on her bench in the park. She smells of sweat and Camels, cradles a bottle of wine, whiskey, whatever she’s got her hands on. Her lavender blouse and jeans are caked in mud and other spots. Her chestnut-colored hair looks like sad, weary strings.

     Sometimes, I wave. But she stares, eyes dulled.

     I speak her old nicknames. Call her Mama, Mama, words evaporating.

    At first, she used to wave, smile. Hug. Dance beneath oaks. Ask me about school, ask if I’d heeded her advice, kicked bullies in the nuts. She said she needed time, said she loved me. Living in houses was overrated. Dad was a hardass. She spoke the words with methodical precision, although each word seemed ready to crack.

    Now, she slouches, smile emptying with each day and night between us, each storm, each mystery that wanders the park, each thing that passes in the spaces between us. I walk on, onward, deeper into the park. She looks forward. Doesn’t speak a word, but still cradles bottles. Sometimes, they slip, and she catches them. Other times, they break.

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Yash Seyedbagheri is a graduate of Colorado State University's MFA program. His stories, "Soon,"  "How To Be A Good Episcopalian” and "Tales From A Communion Line", were nominated for Pushcarts. Yash’s work has been published in The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Write City Magazine, and Ariel Chart, among others.