The Agonist Journal

The fat woman looked down at her six-year-old son and frowned. He had come to her and politely asked whether he could have some cookies and milk while watching Sesame Street.

“All right, I’ll fix it for you. Go on back!” He went back and sat down in front of the TV.

She finished her drink and went to the kitchen.

"The mother dreaded the day that his voice would change and he would begin to sound like his father."

The boy got on her nerves. He looked like a miniature version of his father, no matter what she did to change his appearance. His brown curly hair was just like his father’s, so she had had it cut off in a crew cut. She had convinced her son, Carl, how neat it would be to have a nickname, like Tom, or Adam, or Brian, and it was simple at this age to accept the idea without question and so he chose Adam as his new name and was even enrolled in school under “Adam.”

Carl had been her ex-husband’s name.

But, even with those changes, and with the painful admonitions about ever mentioning his father, “Adam” still reminded her of him, and that filled her with hatred and anger. Sensing her hostility, the boy instinctively kept away. Besides, there had been times when he went to her for love and affection but she roughly pushed him away.

The mother dreaded the day that his voice would change and he would begin to sound like his father.

She downed another gin and tonic.

Immediately before and after the divorce proceedings, she had fabricated in her mind all sorts of incidents derogatory of her husband Carl, from the aspects of personality, finances, sex, habits, hobbies, and personal hygiene, all of which she had convinced herself were true. In fact, she would have staked her life as to their veracity. Even if they had been proven wrong through facts, she would have held on to these incidents as having occurred. Nor would she have recanted upon learning that so many women who go through a divorce—regardless of who initiates it—creatively restructure their memories.

Her husband had desperately fought for custody of their son and she fought back purely in reflex action. Naturally, being a woman, she got custody of their child. It was preordained. A woman is deemed in all courts to be a superior parent by virtue of being a woman. Furthermore, the court knew, though it did not voice it, that fathers are not as good parents as mothers because fathers are seldom awarded custody of the children—a superb example of circular reasoning.

Yet, now that she had gotten custody of Adam, she wished at times that she had not.

On his last birthday, he had woken her up early.

“What’s my birthday present? What’s my birthday present? You promised you’d get me a birthday present!” he eagerly reminded her.

It was true. Through her bleary eyes, she remembered that she had in fact promised him a birthday present. So she got up and, stumbling her way to the bathroom, removed the cardboard core from a roll of toilet paper. Then, having returned to the living room, she put the core to her mouth and made a sound.

“Toot! Toot! See, here’s your birthday present,” she handed it to him and went back to bed.

She took another drink.

Those eyes. It was those eyes. More than any other feature, he had his father’s eyes.

She went back to the kitchen and gulped down another gin and tonic. Would she never be rid of that man?

Those eyes!

Her glance rested on the table where she had been clipping coupons from the newspaper with her scissors. Then, all at once, she knew what she had to do to rid herself of Carl’s eyes in Adam’s body.

Picking up the sharp, pointed scissors, she stealthily crept up behind the little boy eating cookies and milk while watching Sesame Street.