Spines - Chapter 1

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by heartrate-monitor

Libraries: Drabbles, Blurbs, Free Writes, General, Original Fiction

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Experimental Prose-etry starring a comatose victim.

Chapter 1, Love that is worth the price

Warren could never say he loved his mother, though he would have liked to have loved her. From the stories told by his aunts and his father, there was no denying that she was a nice lady. The rest of the town agreed as well, saying that her volunteer work and patient hand was a beautiful gift, and that her death was a great loss to the community. Her elementary school students and their parents, as well as most of the town came to her funeral to mourn.

He could not have possibly loved his mother, since she had died in childbirth. He was in love with the concept of her, this wispy fleeting woman who was nothing but words and photographs. Aunt Rose always said to him, “Iris would have made a wonderful mother. She loved you when you were in her belly and she loves you now.” He would nod and lower his head, pushing aside his doubts of an afterlife that surfaced when he was seven years old. It was unpleasant to think of people as bones and dust, so he instead of her smiling through her pictures, perhaps smiling at him.

Sometimes Warren thought he missed her, an uncomfortable longing for someone he did not know. He missed her when his father would come home shouting at him from a bad day at work. On some days when his father was especially furious, he would openly blame his son for taking her away, and Warren would say nothing in his defense. Those times were when he yearned for his mother the most, knowing from his relatives that she was the only person able to placate his father.

“You look a lot like her,” the man once told him as his anger began to mellow.


The woman was from the Philippines, with a small nose and bright brown eyes. Her hair was a straight and glossy black, and her body slim. Warren’s father, on the other hand, was a handful of things they had forgotten - Irish/German/some kind of European mix. Warren inherited his father’s large feet, but everything else from his face to his lightly tanned skin was a near carbon copy of his mother’s features. He thought that this similarity made the man even more enraged, that his son who had murdered his wife would dare make a mockery of her appearance. His theory was supported by the lonely stares that his father would sometimes give him, long looks that Warren pretended not to notice.

When he turned twelve, his father’s anger reached a high point, and the beatings began.

He did not tell a soul about this. They wouldn’t have believed him anyway, since the man held a high position in the town and his word would mean nothing next to his father’s. There were no marks on his body, and therefore very little evidence. His father was a careful man, even when the fury got the better of him. And Warren, still very small, thought deep down that he deserved it for killing a human far more amazing and wonderful than he could ever hope to be.

Some days the man was kind, though, pouring through old pictures and telling his stories.

“Your mother called you ‘mahal,’ Warren.” It was another one of those Tagalog-something words that he never knew about.

“What does that mean?”

“It means love. It also means expensive.”

Warren thought about this word a few times every week, reflecting on the meaning and the sound. He thought of it whenever he had a girlfriend, and but never dared call them something so sacred. He thought of it when he moved out of his father’s house with a big scholarship to an out of state college. He thought of it now, sleeping pills at hand in his dorm, finally understanding, or at least thinking he understood.


“I love you too, mom.”

He downed the whole bottle of capsules.

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