I am naked when my son – a college boy now – runs downstairs to tell me his accounting grade is a B+. The plus is significant. His academic scholarship is in jeopardy. Every fraction counts. Only one more grade to go.
Whoo-hoo, I say. Go, you.
My naked body is significant – I am two weeks shy of fifty. My body almost two decades distanced from the haven that cradled my son, the bountiful feast that fed his fattened rolls.
I clutch a towel to my chest and smile up at him. His averting eyes squinch when they register the dimpled ass in the mirror behind me.
Nineteen years ago, I gave birth to him on Mother’s Day. We spent that hot Honolulu summer getting acquainted in a skin-on-skin delirium, my cells the repository of everything he needed.
For years we reveled in our nakedness, my little hedo-nudist climbing in the tub, slipping into bed in the night, snuggling close. The joyous celebration of us.
And now, each day I greet the mirror and struggle to find love in my reflected eyes. I work to call forth the words “good for your age” and “still vibrant.”
How am I now more ruthless than the ball-capped rednecks who lined our high school halls? Eighteen, crossed arms, sly-eyed ratings so sure, so careless.
A good grade. That’s all I want.
Mary Akers is the author of two books of short fiction from Press 53 and co-author of a non-fiction book that has sold in seven countries. Her work has appeared in Bellevue Literary Review, Guernica, The Fiddlehead, Mississippi Review Online, Brevity, and other journals. Akers’ work frequently focuses on the intersections between art and science. She has been a Bread Loaf work-study scholar, a VCCA fellow, and is the proud and enthusiastic editor-in-chief of the online journal r.kv.r.y. Her creative work is represented by Zoe Sandler at ICM.
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