When we found the gun in my mother’s lingerie drawer, my sister and I were more scared of getting in trouble with our parents for snooping than anything else, afraid they’d never leave us alone again and I loved being left alone. Within a few years I will have locked my sister in the den and I will have parties with tough boys from over the city line and my neighbor will show up on our steps with a rifle and I will lie. I will say these tough boys that I loved to kiss broke into my sleepover party and I didn’t even know them. I will remind my sister of the gun in the lingerie drawer and she’ll keep her mouth shut.
It is also true that my father would hiss at my mother in the night when they thought we weren’t listening. About how she killed her first husband. About how she flirted with the neighbor with the rifle. About how she was a sneaking fall down drunk. I was too young to grasp a good writer’s hyperbole and my father was a good writer. My blood lived at the edge of shivers and I can’t say I don’t still like that.
My mother’s last move was into a skilled nursing facility and my sister wanted the old chest of drawers that held that gun for so many years. My mother laughed when we found it again, amid scarves and combs and strips of old tissue, her favorite perfume wafting through. That gun wasn’t even real, she said. Just a dummy in case of break-ins.
Writer, visual artist, and psychiatric nurse practitioner NINA GABY lives in central Vermont. She has contributed to numerous anthologies and periodicals, both fiction and nonfiction, as well as prose poetry and articles. Her first book, Dumped: Stories of Women Unfriending Women, was published in 2015 by She Writes Press and, biggest brag, her porcelain vessels reside in the permanent collection of the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian.