5 Signs that Your Mother is Reabsorbing You Into Her Womb, Ben Larned
At some point, most millennials will have to consider moving home. Yes, you too. The boomers left us with higher rent, lower pay and fewer options, and whether you’re cool with your parents or not, sometimes they are all you’ve got left. Even though you promised never to move back. Ever.
If you’ve thought about making the move, and you’re plagued by the sense that something is sucking you into a wormhole, you’re not alone. Not that there’s much you can do. If you’re reading this, it’s already too late.
One day you might get a call. Your dad’s passed, heart failure. At the funeral, your mom will ask you with that look, “Are things really okay in the big city?” And though you’ll say of course, everything’s on the cusp, eventually you’ll have to be honest.
Accepting her offer is the first sign. Within days, your life will shift from urban vibrance to a grey suburban drip, where identity is a thing you buy on sale at Target. Not that you had an identity before. That’s what makes it so easy - there wasn’t much of you to begin with.
In the first nights you’ll dream of being smothered, and liking it.
One thing about living with your parents: they expect you to interact with them. And sometimes you just want to lie in bed and stare at hot boys on Instagram and wonder where you went wrong, without having to hold a conversation.
But your mom will get needy after dad’s death. It won’t be long before she brings out the picture albums. Her fawning reflections will make it clear: you haven’t lived up to that screaming nugget of yesteryear. Her memories will turn your dreams into scenes of apocalyptic abandonment, execution by martial law, and horrid diseases with no cure. You’ll look in the mirror and wonder why your body seems so undeveloped, almost prepubescent in the wrong light. This is not a sign, just a fault of perception.
You might send the baby pictures to friends as a joke. They’ll laugh at first. Pretty soon they’ll stop responding.
Nothing haunts you like a mother’s expectations. You will find this true after the first weeks at home. You’ll walk into your room and find all of your belongings in strange places. Clothes will go missing, items will self-organize, or your keys will vanish, causing you to flake on the only cute boy within ten miles. Or you’ll come home late and your mother will emerge from her bedroom like a waking ghoul and moan, “Do you have any idea what time it is?” You’ll never know how to answer.
When you confront the ghoul, she will claim that the clothes smelled, your room was a mess, and you shouldn’t canoodle with strange men in the dead hours of the night. In the end, she’s just doing her job. You will find yourself living a life as flavorful as milky soap. At least it tastes clean.
You might also notice your mother rubbing her stomach, like she feels something growing.
This one will come suddenly, so you won’t have a chance to dread it. That doesn’t mean you won’t smell it on your mother when she asks you what you’ve been up to - the lingering stench of disappointment. By now you spend every day at home, sounding out the words to picture books. None of your friends respond to you anymore - they all taste the late-weaned milk on your words. Your shirt is 3 sizes too small. Doesn’t matter, it fits.
Your mother won’t comment on your wasted limbs and shrinking face. She won’t mind when the ectoplasm of your adult years clogs the drain. She’ll talk about you like you're not sitting right there. Maybe you aren’t.
It’s amazing how easily a life fades into nonexistence. As soon as you let one thing slip, the rest follows in a landslide of self toward the bottom of a great nothing. You think it will be a relief. It’s not.
The womb will come in silently. It's wet, heated membrane will creep over your feet, ankles, calves, knees, thighs, groin, and hips. You’ll wake up when its lips crest your belly button, and you’ll try to wriggle away but it’ll slurp too fast up your fingers, arms, nipples and clavicle. Once it eclipses your head, it will retreat, ooze itself down the hallway, into her bed and between her legs. By this time you’ll have asphyxiated, so you won’t feel yourself being reabsorbed. Neither will she, except as a stir in her dream. When she wakes, she will feel whole again, and won’t remember your name.
Ben Larned (he/they) is an MFA candidate at The New School. His work can be found on Daily Dead, Screencraft, and in "The Book of Blasphemous Words". His short film 'Payment' is streaming on ALTER.