I know to just walk into the cabin in the overgrown forest; there is no lock, no security system. Lit by elongated spherical candles, the expansive room is filled with shadow and stark illumination and eggs.
The ghosts of my ancestors haunt me about what I am about to do. Well, somebody has to put Ma into a nursing home, for her own good. And it should be someone who loves her.
I feel stupid dressed in a suit and tie. Compared to her, I’m big and powerful. And really, I’m not.
Inside, I’m still the child who grew up here.
So many children — so many names– we called each other Brother and Sister. Now we have all adopted identities in society. Ma is all alone.
I never had the sense of her being my real mother…. Ma is too old, for one thing. My father? Who knows? Not one of us knows who we belong to. We just belong to one another, us Erie.
She looks at me with eyes so piecing, I wonder if she has gone blind: she looks right through me.
“Ma.” That is what the Tribe calls her. Like her Ma and her Ma before her, she is Matriarch of the Erie. Mother to us all. She connects all Erie. And everyone is Erie. Ma claims that a property of the individual Erie is that every Erie contains the complete Tribe.
Ma reflects the whole damn Erie in mirror imagine.
She looks at me with eyes so piecing, I wonder if she has gone blind: Ma looks right through me.
She rocks slowly back and forth in her bouncy chair next to the fire. An Indian blanket covers her hunched back and mane of silver curls. Ma has never cut her hair: she claims it is an extension of the nervous system and enhances her psychic abilities. Eerie, the black cat is curled on her lap, Bloody Stump, the three-legged dog is at her side, and Who? the owl is on her shoulder.
Ma is surrounded by her collection of eggs, perfectly balanced eggs, arranged on antique tables and deep shelves, hanging from the ceiling and stuck to the walls, all different colors and sizes. Jeweled Fabergé eggs are scattered randomly with plastic Easter eggs filled with sweets and small prizes.
And each egg has a story about how she attained it.
There is a crystal egg, given to her by a fortune teller; a black magic-eight egg, that now I hold tight in both sweaty hands. If I turn the magic ball upside down, there is a window that gives an answer. I cannot allow myself a question, such as, am I doing the right thing? I cannot leave my actions up to whimsy.
The eight-ball egg is the only object that survived a fire that burned the barn to the ground and when it was found in the ashes, it read, yes.
On the fireplace mantel, a string of silver eggs, left to Ma by a Wizard, swings back and forth on strings due to their own volition, And her favorite, an egg the size of a baseball full of floating mirrors, purple liquid and glitter.
I gave her that egg.
I was 13; and I got this feeling, like I was NOW. Purposely I hiked to Erie Eternal Flame Waterfalls. The grotto at the bottom of the 100 foot falls has several fissures through which methane gas is lit. I stood at the center of the whirlpool nearly invisible in the haze of mist blown up from the torrent of the Mad River, which runs both ways. In anticipation, I held out my cupped hands as the mirrored ovum, size of an invisibubble, tumbled over the vertical drop and I caught it.
Nothing since has ever felt so good, as placing that egg in Ma’s hands.
“Where’s you medical alert necklace?” I ask.
In a silly response, she blows me a kiss with her deformed right hand.
“Do you want some tea?” I ask.
I make us both a cup, like old times, and settle across from her on the settee. The soft light and warmth from the fire is comforting as a womb; I loosen my tie and kick off my shoes.
“How is Who?” I ask, referring to the snow owl on her shoulder. Who? blinks at me with round golden eyes as if she knows what I’m saying.
“She still hasn’t flown,” Ma says, then adds in a voice held steady, “Who? laid a cuckoo bird’s egg that is about to hatch.”
I give a strained smile. “Really?”
I sip my black herbal tea prepared from the cured leaves of the pot plant. I’d forgotten the warm rush of energy from Erie tea, the feeling of euphoria and the sublime connection with all things.
“I wrapped the egg in your shit,” Ma says, nodding her head that suddenly seems too big for her tiny body.
That statement slams me back to my reason for coming here. Another gulp of tea. “Ma…”
“Remember, months ago, the last night you spent here? I collected your shit.”
This cabin has no plumbing, and I’d had my bowel movement in the outhouse. “Ma, you can’t live like this anymore…”
“You had a dream about a beautiful woman. A wet dream. You ejaculated your sperm…”
I feel an impenetrable darkness. “Listen to me, Ma…”
“I collected it.”
“You got my shit? You got my sperm?” I hear myself, but can’t stop; I am an idiot to converse with her. I know she is suffering from dementia. She needs to be put into an institution where she can be cared for, poor dear.
Ma giggles insanely, “I poked a tiny hole into the egg Who? laid, and injected your semen, after which I sealed the egg’s opening with my virgin hymen, which I saved for 70 years. Since the first day of the spring lunar cycle, the equinox– April Fools Day– when eggs can be balanced on end, your shit has incubated the embryo inseminated with your sperm.”
In a way, I’m glad she’s finally gone completely balmy. I’ve spent a lifetime with magic and superstition and illogical decrees from this old woman. I’m grateful to her for everything, all the love, all the sacrifices. But I want a life! I’ve spent years being responsible for her and her animals and her cabin and her eggs.
“It’s right there, next to the mandrake root!” She points.
On the fireplace hearth is a human-looking root, and next to it a turd shaped like an egg and steaming.
I’m totally discombobulated; I grab Eerie from her lap and clutch the black cat to my heart to hold her tight, as if this small animal can keep me safe in reality. I breathe, hard, and that is all I am capable of.
“It’s hatching,” Ma says, as Bloody Stump goes to sniff it.
I know logically that if I respond to her, I’ve lost any hope of rescuing Ma, and she needs rescuing– she’s insane. A part of me has always known, the poor woman is not in touch with reality. As if from a distance, I hear my own quivering voice. “What’s inside the egg?”
“A tiny living humanoid,” Ma says.
At first, I think that a sprout is emerging from the egg created from shit. Then I realize it is a tiny arm and hand with delicate fingers grasping the air.
Ma says, “You must feed it sperm from your penis.”
A bublous head covered in slime thick as egg-white emerges through the cracked shell and gives a banshee wail that mingles with my own inhuman lament.
“It looks like you,” Ma says proudly.
(c) 2017 Mary Finnegan
Mary Finnegan is Matriarch of the Erie, a tribe notorious for intense psychic abilities. She says she has a disposition for difficulty with authority. Her FB page is THE ERIE IS COMING. She adds, “I live on the dead end of Erie St. with my grandson, Jacob Stump, my owl, Who? my black cat Eerie and my thee-legged dog, Bloody Stump.”
Mary’s work has appeared in Farrago’s Wainscot, Indigenous Fiction, Serendipity, The Bad Version, Shadows of the Mind Anthology, Fiction Brigade, Writing That Risks, Red Bridge Press, Real Lies, Zharmae Press, Tortured Souls, Scarlett River Press, Up, Do; Flash Fiction by Women Writers, Flapperhouse, and Advances in Parapsychological Research (Saybrook). More information on my work can be found at www.MarievFinnegan.yolasite.com.