Roberta Beary: Love Me Tender Coming Right Up : Fiction : March 2019

Southern Legitimacy Statement: Ever since my mother died in North Carolina, I’ve felt an affinity for that state. Maybe one day I’ll wind up living there. Or dying there.

Love Me Tender Coming Right Up

“I’m the pretty sister with the curly hair,” I say, twirling my dark, curly hair.

“You’re the ugly sister,” Becca says, sucking on a wet noodle.

“Mommy, Becca’s making fun of me.”

“Girls, stop it. And no back talk, I’m not in the mood for an argument,” Mommy says. Mommy’s hips sway as she circles past. She’s holding a martini. Her third. Classic Rock FM101 has been mushing it up in the den. “Love Me Tender Love Me True is coming right up after a short break.”

“Mommy’s shit-faced,” I announce to Becca. I like to announce things. I’m the announcer in our family of three. But quiet-like because I’m no drama queen. I don’t even like ham. Ham it up, get it? “It’s your fault, Becca, that third martini is your fault.”

“No, it’s your fault,” Becca says, opening up the cuckoo clock. It doesn’t work. No chime, no bluebird of happiness. Nada.

“Becca, fix it, make it work.”

“I can’t. The battery’s had a meltdown. Don’t touch it, dumbass, it’s hot. Besides, this clock’s junk. A POC Swiss knockoff.”

“You mean a POS,” I say, using Mommy’s favorite name for her last boyfriend. The married cop. Becca snorts. She does a good snort.

Becca points to the gin bottle. It’s my turn to dump it down the toilet. Tomorrow Becca will get the blame.” I’ll hide the handcuffs so Mommy can’t find them,” I announce to Becca. I like to announce things. I’m the announcer. My teacher says he can listen to my voice night and day. He says there’s a song about that. He’s going to teach me it. Real soon.