My Android Mother

Growing up, I didn’t really get how my mother was different from the other moms. And I never questioned her love for me. She made picture-perfect pancakes with strawberries and whipped-cream in the morning, strolled with me through a park or a museum in the afternoon, read me fairy tales before bed, and told me she loved me before she planted a dry kiss on my cheek and cooed, “Good night, honey-bunny”.

I took her quirks for granted—her phobia of water, the faint scent of rubbing alcohol on her skin, the way she lifted the fridge with ease when a pea rolled behind it, the quiet whirring when I put my head against her chest.

Maybe I was slow for not putting two and two together. But I never gave any of it a second thought. It was just the way Mom was.

Summer, I sat in the pool with my best friend, Betty. Shrill squeals of laughter erupted from mouths with missing milk teeth. The sun bounced off sunglasses and soda pop bottles. My mother lounged on a chair in capri pants and a white turtleneck, a lifestyle magazine flicked open to the same page for hours. Now I think back on it, I bet she was ‘reading’ hundreds of books at the same time, while keeping her eyes on me.

“Why isn’t your mommy wearing a swimsuit?” Betty asked.

“She can’t swim.”

“Isn’t she hot?”

I shrugged. The temperature never seemed to affect my mom. When icicles hung from the eaves like teeth, and I pretended every breath out was a puff of cigar smoke, she’d run to the store without a coat. She’d be forgetful like that.

But she balked at going out into the rain. If we were in town, we’d wait outside the bakery and listen to the pitter-patter on the striped awning. I craned my neck and stuck out my tongue to catch the rain drops that dribbled from the scalloped border. On our way home, I splashed into puddles, delighting in Mom’s horror.