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Mid-Life

Jennifer Jacobson

Of everything I say, my mother hears a third. It’s easy when you’re young, she shouts through the phone. Not always, I reply. Across the kitchen, my daughter interrupts her texting. Why are you yelling? I move my lips, soundless: I’m talking to your grandmother. Then I salt the cauliflower casserole. My daughter shakes her head, disgusted or disinterested, it’s hard to tell. In her eyes I am the pusher of vegetables, teller of mortifying details, the worry czar. She thinks I hear a third of what she says. When the casserole emerges, over-seasoned and burnt, I pinch money from the savings jar and take us out for fast food. French fries in our laps, we ride the dirt road alongside cornrows to the river. Under a full moon my daughter says: Let’s take a picture. We look so good right now. I stop on the incline of a ditch. Heads together, we laugh, yet the camera only captures my moon-soaked scowl – nothing like the carefree I feel. My daughter sings a radio song, our hair wind wild. Dipping over the ditch, the car’s low beams slide wide across adolescent corn, and I move my lips. In the rattle of dirt and engine I can only hear a third of what I say…You are…until the dust settles…good…and the bald tires seize the road…enough.

Jennifer Jacobson is a mother, writer, story advocate, and curriculum developer. She loves chocolate and walks in the woods with her family. Her writing appears in The Masters Review, jubilat, Chronogram, MotherWriter! Storytelling Magazine and elsewhere. Her stories have received honorable mentions from Glimmer Train, Hunger Mountain, Symphony Space, and the Tennessee Williams Festival.