This Mother’s Boys
By Laura Banks
“They’re both upstairs.”
I follow her through the back door.
The first time I came to the house, it was to show her my make-up catalog and samples, she took me into her bedroom and told me about how Jeremy was born with a hole in his heart and Leif is dyslexic. She went on about all the other problems they’ve had, including Leif’s drinking which she said was a blessing in disguise because it kept him from moving out and trying to live on his own.
At home that night I thought of all kinds of stuff to say about how a lot of it wasn’t her fault and the boys probably weren’t as inept as she thought they were and she should give them a chance, some kind of project maybe, to see how they handled responsibility. But when I came back to deliver her purchases it was almost like we’d never met. Jeremy remembered me though.
I take slow steps across the kitchen, listening to my sneakers peel away from the sticky linoleum. She had a wooden spoon in her hand when she let me in and she’s still holding it down at her side, watching me cross the kitchen and listening to me go up the stairs. At the top of the stairs, I hear the two TVs. A sitcom in Jeremy’s room and a war movie in Leif’s.
I go part way back down the stairs, at the edges so they don’t creak, until the TV noise fades and I hear her say “Jer’my’s girlfriend is here again.”
I don’t hear a response from her husband.
Jeremy is probably not the one I’ll rescue. I’ll take Leif. Jeremy is sweet and easy going. He pretends the cheese pizza his mom buys all the time is all he wants in life. Leif, she pronounces it Leaf, is just as quiet but he never smiles. Leif is smart. He could really do something with his life. He will have to live up to his potential, or at least try, when I tell him what’s up.
I hear the ironing board shriek as she unfolds its legs. A few minutes later, I hear forks scraping plates. They eat standing at the ironing board because the table is covered with her jigsaw puzzles. For an extra challenge, she likes to open three puzzle boxes at a time and mix all the pieces together.
I sneak back up the stairs, knock on Leif’s door, and help myself to the whiskey he hides between his bed and his dresser.
“I don’t think your mom likes me.”
“What do you care.”
“This movie you’re watching. This is bullshit.”
“They didn’t have hippies back then.”
I can tell by the look on his face I’ve said something dumb. “So don’t watch it.”
I put the bottle down and stand facing the door.
He pulls me by my fingers so I pivot in his small room and then I’m straddling him in his chair, grinding my panties against his erection. He bites my nipples through my t-shirt. I’ve never heard that cotton, even if it is two layers thick, is effective birth control, but Leif and I have never been able to do it any other way.
I watch him strip and crawl into his cum-stained sleeping bag while I change into the clean panties I brought.
He won’t believe me if I tell him. The baby is probably Jeremy’s, anyway. Jeremy thinks it’s good enough to pull out. He acts like he’s presented me with jewelry when he neatly fills my belly button. I hope it’s a boy. I can’t wait to tell her. I wonder if she will like me then.
Laura Gullveig lives in a camper in Arizona with her partner, chickens and cat. Her fiction has recently appeared in Hashtag Queer: LGBTQ+ Creative Anthology and is forthcoming in Future Fire.