Per Contra

Summer 2007


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Five Reasons You Shouldn’t Read Your Mother’s Diary by Cheryl Chambers



Her handwriting is unintelligible in places and her spelling is atrocious. You notice this immediately after flipping open the black pleather cover (labeled Journal in gold to make it appear costly, though you know it's cheap), but you're hesitant to begin reading. The abbreviated grocery lists, the shorthand notes, the insatiable interest in instant and text messaging all make sense now. Nightly replies of Go ask your father, honey, I'm busy when you asked for help with your homework, initially attributed to the demands of housework, take on new meaning. You want to know more.


She has never liked your grandmother. Her mother, she claims, had an affair with a man half her age (Nana?), and devastated her father, who believed her explanation that he worked too much, and didn't pay enough attention to his family. Your mother writes BITCH!! after this passage. She can't help but dot the "i" with a heart and write on the next line Isnt life ironik? This remark doesn't make sense to you. You get angry that she can spell bitch, but little else, and decide that maybe her idiocy is why Nana had an affair.


Your mother never writes about your father. You can't figure out how she's lived with him for twenty years (and counting!) and never once mentions him.


She thinks she is fat and ugly. Pages and pages about food and weight--good day today! Skiped breakfast and lunch!!--but there is no mention of the time you were getting dressed for prom and you caught her reflection in the mirror, watching you, and you told her you wanted to look more like her, and less like Dad.


Sometimes she regrets you. On one entry (your birthday, for God's sake!), she alternately wishes she finished school--didn't make that stupid, stupid mistake that left me so traped!--or became a model. She had always walked around as if she sashayed on a runway while she cleaned. She writes about this, writes about how it was like those women in that laundry detergent commercial. Wtf is that brand?! she writes. There is a smiley face after this revelation, complete with hair. There are blurry places and phrases where the ink has run (was she crying? spilling her drink?) and you spend hours holding the pages open to the light, at various angles, hoping those words are but i'm happy.



Fiction Summer 2007

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