Altar Ego

What Remy knew, was that her mother had a date tonight. At age ten, Remy possessed more fractured pieces of knowledge about relationships, dating and men than most sixteen year old girls—and a few late blossoming twenty-somethings.
It always started the same; her mother’s slow transformation into someone else began gradually over a period of weeks and sometimes months. For awhile, Remy’s mom would be just that—her mother. After she picked her up from the babysitter’s, they would talk about their day on the bus ride home, and when they got back to their small apartment her mother would prepare dinner while Remy set up the table. Afterwards, they would package up the leftovers, prepare their lunches for the next day, watch TV and finally her mother would tuck her into bed at the conclusion of the day.
Where other people might find the constant routine stifling, Remy sought solace in it for she felt that the brief periods where her mother was entirely hers was too fleeting. There were times though when the routine would change. Instead of watching television with her, Remy would find her mother holed up in her bedroom poring over her old wedding photos and crying. Remy didn’t see her father that much anymore, he was too busy with his whole new family, but her mother just couldn’t seem to get over it as Remy had.
Another constant change in the routine that Remy loved so much was that sometimes, either over a year or a few months her mother would be late in picking her up from the babysitter’s, and during the whole car ride her mother would hum along to the radio, eyes sparkling. At home she would continue to hum as she prepared dinner for Remy, throwing more smiles and affectionate hugs and kisses her way then was normal. Afterwards her mother would retreat to her room with the phone and conduct whispered conversations filled with peals of laughter.
Remy didn’t feel as excluded as she did curious about the latest man who had changed her mother’s behaviour. This change always signified that for at least a couple of months, Remy would be living with a virtual stranger as her mother melded herself to fit with the latest man.
It was ironic how much Remy dreaded the eventual changes in her mother when the changes and the rituals that came with it became a routine in itself. At the advent of every date, her mother would labour over her appearance a lot more than usual. She would pluck, exfoliate and repaint her face into a more beautiful yet more alienating version of her mother. She would smile too wide and laugh too loudly.
Remy would start spending a lot more time at the babysitter’s, or her grandmother’s or at one of her mother’s friend’s houses while she went out night after night pretending to be someone else. If things seemed to be going “well” (according to her mother) Remy would finally get to meet the man who had so changed her mother.
It was always interesting to meet the new man in her mother’s life. It satisfied a lot of Remy’s questions about the new changes within her mother. When she dated the Banker, Remy’s mother spent a lot more time with her hair slicked back and had taken great pains with her appearance. When the Truck Driver was in their lives, Remy and her mother would sing along to country music, and her mother became fascinated with trucks. With each new person in their lives Remy was able to gleam various lives and interests. For awhile she would even be able to see glimpse at just what her life might have been. If any of her mother’s relationships were to ever work out.
When all of the relationships disintegrated, Remy’s mother would fall apart. The whole new persona she had become whilst dating fell to pieces and for awhile she would be lost. Not knowing which pieces to pick up and keep, and which to discard. She would forget just who she was and if any facet of her was real or her own. This was the scariest time for Remy. She would never know just who would be picking her up from the babysitter’s. Maybe it would be her mom as the wife of the Banker, or the Truck Driver or maybe even the Chef.
It took time, and after each relationship it would take longer and longer for her mother to become just her Mother again. But with each new relationship the pieces that her mother kept close to her would show in her face. The tired lines, the corners of her mouth perpetually turning downwards with each passing month and her eyes becoming sadder with each ending.
As Remy watched her mother get ready for another date tonight she realized that men weren’t gentle, they ate you alive and they seemed to have a special power that girls didn’t have. That was why it was so important to try to be someone else, so they couldn’t steal too many pieces of your soul.

This was a piece I did when I participated in Soompi’s Gokon activity. The prompts were nail polish colours. I actually really liked this at the time… my reviewer hated it haha. Some things though, went totally over her head. She was like, “You capitalized a lot of words that didn’t need to be… in the middle of a sentence!!!” and then she couldn’t get the tone or tell if Remy was sad or happy but oh vell~~
Today's feature image is from Tumblr.

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