Nick Ripatrazone

Mom Likes Her

Lucy left her teeth in my cranberry juice glass again. I leave it on the counter next to the fridge. I got the glass when I was eight--Thundercats are stenciled, in motion, around the sides. Their faces are fierce. No one else should use my glass. Mom’s glasses have pink giraffes. Doug only uses colored plastic that feels frosted to the touch. And Lucy prefers Styrofoam. Before my father left he used to have scotch on the rocks with breakfast. He called it “Morning Glory.” The sound of the ice clinking against the sides was the same sound Lucy’s teeth made when they jostled around.

Last night I woke at 3:00 am. My stomach turned but my mouth was dry so I paced down the hallway to the kitchen. The open fridge burned me with light. I poured a healthy glass of cranberry juice--squeezed fresh from the berries Mom bought at the Farm & Horse show (she trampled through the house with manure and I had to clean the mess but it was worth it for fresh fruit)--and when I got to the bottom I realized I was a swallow away from teeth. I had almost kissed Lucy. The woman who moved in with us after my father left. The woman who shaved her armpits in the garage while listening to Tone Loc. The woman who said my father was the most handsome man she had ever seen: what a shame that he had no self-respect. The woman who, when I walked into her room with the tooth-heavy glass, was doing yoga on top of her desk, arms swirling like she had extra limbs. “Lucy.” I held up the glass. “This is disgusting.”

She opened her mouth. It looked huge. It looked like I could fit my foot inside. Or a wine bottle. She kept her mouth open, and I kept on staring into it. Then she stopped swishing her arms, hopped down, fingered her teeth from the glass, and put them in. She said she liked orange juice, too.

Her mouth puckered as she sucked the juice from the teeth. I turned to see Doug in the doorway, his khakis folded to his calves. He’s been wearing them non-stop recently since we found photographs of my father at Colby during the sixties. He even bought a lacrosse stick at a garage sale and tosses the white ball against the outside of our chimney. Mom goes outside and moves the brick chips in the grass with her painted toes. Doug can’t play for shit. He doesn’t know how to cradle and his shots are soft. He bought a Chatham Lacrosse sweatshirt from the Good Will and tried to pass it off as his own. He even made up a story about the number on the back.

“Can you stop talking?” He tapped the doorframe overhead.

I wanted to say he was a fake. Instead I held out my glass.


Nick Ripatrazone is the author of Oblations (Gold Wake Press 2011), a book of prose poems. His writing has appeared in Esquire, The Kenyon Review, West Branch, The Mississippi Review and Beloit Fiction Journal.

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