Short Stories

Short Story: Watered-Down Curses

My story began a long time ago. Before I was born or even before my mother was born. I am not sure how far it goes, but earliest I know was with my grandma’s parents and the day she ran away from home. She was born into a religious family to harsh parents, doing everything to make their farm thrive and their family pious. But when it comes to good morals, they are tricky ones under men, who see their rule as divine. My great-grandpa was one of those men. He saw it as his right to sleep with his daughters. There is no pretty way to say that. But what he did wasn’t pretty. So my grandma ran from this man. Some might blame her for leaving her sister behind, but not I. Who I am to judge her, me who is living the watered-down curse my family has carried with them centuries.

It would be nice to say it all stopped there. That my grandma made a good life, and she made the world a better place to be. But that is not how it goes. Rarely at least with the burdens she carried with her and the models, she couldn’t help but learn. My grandma used to beat my mother. She locked her into dark rooms, stayed beside her bed with a knife in her hand, and made my mother this timid creature who was and still is uncomfortable in her own skin. All this for the name of love and doing the right thing. How else should my mother have learned? She didn’t beat the other children—only my mother, who she had bestowed all her hopes for a better tomorrow. What a curse hope and tomorrows could be.

She is now dead. My grandma, I mean. And twistedly, I think my mother is the only one of her children who miss her. Good riddance, the others said. So did I when she passed away. I remember… when I was a little, we ran with my sister and my mother from her house, my grandma yelling after us, throwing our juice boxes on the ground, and slamming the door behind us. But there are times when I wonder have I judged her too harshly? But who should I blame? My great-grandpa or those before him? So the curses go. She wasn’t evil or all bad. No one ever is. My grandma was the strongest woman I have ever known. She built a life alone where there was none with a big house and the ability to take her children aboard. She worked relentlessly at the factory, endured bad marriages and the death of her husband, my grandpa. She never remarried after my grandpa killed himself. War, I was told. Another thing which doesn’t leave a living soul. But that is another story. A mystery, I might add.

But now we are closer to the point where I come into the picture, to my mother. My mother is that timid creature I told you, but that is not all she is. You remember the line where I said my grandma was the strongest woman I have ever known. My mother is a close second. I love her for it, but I hate her for it too. As a child, she endured ridicule, my grandma, as I told you, abandonment by her father, then later, all kinds of cruelty life can give. One was her boyfriend, after my father, beating the living shit out of her. I still remember those blacks and blues, and bend fingers, and how the sense of security was lost. And she goes on, survives one ordeal after another. Forever, searching for someone to love her. That yearning, which quickly turns into poison. And here I come into the picture—a child of hope and an endless supply of love.

But there is only so much hope and love one can give before being suffocated, especially when nothing offered can replace what was lost to the ego, which sees nothing but herself. I have it easy, watered-down generation. Yet, I scream under the elephant sitting on my chest, shaped to the outlines of my mother and the generations before. They say it is us now who has to stop the curse from moving on. And after I am gone, there will only be ashes, no one to cry on my grave. I say to myself that in my sister’s children lies the hope to right all the wrongs. What a burden to give to someone.

As stories go, this one is not done. Not until the scorching hot sun takes us. Nor is it unique—too many fallen victims to the sins of the mothers and fathers. But what else could they have done if it is us to fix the yesterday and dream tomorrow?

Thank you for reading! Have a great day ❤

© K.A. Ashcomb

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