THE COUCH ATE MY MOTHER by Julia Breitkreutz

The couch unhinges its gray jaws and my mother’s unresisting body sinks into the wide gap between the soft cushions. When I first notice that the couch is eating my mother, the slight folding of her pelvis into the gray polyester fabric is so subtle of a shift that I would have easily glanced over if not for the noise—thick and wet—like leaving the YMCA as a kid. With a beach towel wrapped around my small frame, I remember how my orange Crocs quickly filled with a thin puddle of water that had dripped off my body. The sound of my skin and the chlorine water coming together in the confined space made me laugh as I walked with my mother—hand in hand—across the hot pavement towards our van. A squelching sound. 

*

The couch’s black, slimy tongue has revealed itself and is wrapping around my mother’s thin, unshaven calves. It releases this thick gray goo across her wasted body, like the glistening trails slugs leave behind on our driveway. I grab and pull my mother’s arm—we all do—but the action only seems to increase the rate at which the couch devours her. 

*

There are the pills—yellow and white and some pink—that Doctor Gordon tells us we must give her three times a day. Dr. Gordon has a thick belly upon which he folds his wide hands when we tell him that the pills aren’t working, that our mother is still being eaten. He is already scribbling a prescription for more pills as we speak.

 I wonder what color they will be this time. What shape.

*

I hold my mother’s head up and away from the floral-patterned pillow and notice the indentation her head has made in the fabric. I press the glass to her thin, chapping lips. As the orange juice drains from the glass, I find myself wondering exactly how long it takes for the colorful pills to exert their power after dissolving within a body. 

*

Soon all that is left of my mother’s body is her head and neck. We take turns spoon-feeding her vanilla yogurt mixed in with strawberries for breakfast and warmed-up beef stew for dinner. I fill up a red bowl with warm water and massage shampoo into her hair, cupping the water in my hand and rinsing away the suds as she sinks a little deeper, the end of her chin now hidden. 

There is a moment in which I think I notice a flicker in her eye. For an instant, I convince myself that she is actually looking at me as if she suddenly remembers that I am her daughter and she is my mother. Just as quickly as it is there, it disappears and the couch makes a slurping noise, taking a few centimeters more of her into that space which we cannot reach. 


Julia Breitkreutz is a writer from South Carolina. She is currently studying to receive her B.A. in English from Winthrop University. This is her first publication. Find her on Instagram @julia_breitkreutz and @juliabreitkreutz.art.

Art by Bob Schofield @anothertower

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