I can tell by the scent of orange incense wafting under the bathroom door that mom is almost ready for la-la land. Burning incense is part of mom’s night time meditation routine. She says it helps her relax and prepare for the “nocturnal world”—whatever that means. But there’s a steady supply of sleeping pills in her dresser drawer. They’re tucked underneath her worn panties and bras. It is the invaluable that is hidden. So she can talk all she wants about her hokey pokey chants and meditations, but it is pure drugs which send mom off to sleep.
I found those pills shortly after we moved to Meadowview. I was snooping around her bedroom, looking for evidence of dad, proof that she thought about him. But there were only those damn hook-rug kits and half a dozen books on tapping into the body’s chakras. The sleeping pills were the only proof that something had shifted in her life.
Jack breathes deeply beside me with, no doubt, his spear curled protectively around his thin hands while mom prepares to pop more pills. And I, the third Fluchter weirdo trying to just stay afloat, carefully remove the worn Disney anniversary card and lay it underneath my shirt. I stole the card this past summer from one of Jack’s antique shops. Stealing it felt like breathing to me. Only, I’d never done anything like that before. Only, I didn’t have a choice. I couldn’t risk buying it with my mom right there.
My parents truly were Prince Charming and Cinderella. I like to pretend that they are still together. Holding the Disney card to my chest is like having mom and dad next to the deepest part of me, a sort of reversed womb sensation. This is what I do every night now and I think through the story of our beginning:
Once upon a time there was a beautiful eighteen-year old girl who was a Dreamer and a handsome twenty-eight year old man who was a Doer. The dreamer thought she could keep her world of pretend by acting and the man thought he could best provide for his parents and future family by getting a solid education. So right after high school, the beautiful girl auditioned for Disneyworld and got the part of Cinderella. And the handsome man became a respected and well-liked history teacher. Each was content with the only way of living they knew. The handsome man worked very hard at the school and was always volunteering his time with extra curricular activities. So when the faculty needed someone to chaperon the cheerleaders in Disneyworld the Doer was more than happy to volunteer.
The Dreamer was a flirt and was always winking or fast talking with handsome men so it was just another day for her in Disneyworld when the Doer stopped in his tracks and stared at the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen.
“Are you my Prince Charming?” the Dreamer asked the Doer.
“I’d like to be,” the Doer said before his face turned scarlet. While the Doer was very handsome, he was also very shy.
The Dreamer thought that the Doer was just another handsome man full of one- liners. But the Doer turned a fresh shade of red when he—forgetting all about the twenty-four cheerleaders standing behind him—asked the Dreamer, “What time do you get off of work?”
The Doer spent the next year traveling to the Magic Kingdom any chance he could get. The Dreamer loved all of the attention and the two began to see that there might be a future to be lived outside of a theme park, together. So one night, the handsome man dressed up as Prince Charming and in front of Cinderella’s castle, asked the Dreamer to live in a world of reality with him as husband and wife.
“I think it’s good that mom is friends with Vinny,” Jack says, jerking me out of my story and back to the sad truth that is us. It’s just as well as I don’t like to think about after we are born. My heart knows what’s coming next even if my mind pretends it doesn’t.