Open Mic

Erin McReynolds

When is a mother not a mother? 
When she’s dead.


I told that wrong: When is a dead mother not a dead mother?

When she’s been murdered and you find her body in her home after she was missing for three days and you know right away it was her boyfriend who did it and you go to the floor and won’t let anyone hold you up because you need to be down on the earth because it’s your mother now.


That’s not even the funny part. The funny part is, the locksmith who let you in is waiting around for the right moment to tell you he needs to be paid.


Here’s one that will work:
Knock knock.
Who’s there?
Boo who?
Stop crying, it’s been ten years and no one thinks it’s justification for putting a GPS tracker on your husband so you know he’s safe at all times because when you’re at work two rivers away you can watch his little dot move safely from one side of the street to the other. Besides, it’s only a matter of time. Unbelievable things happen. 


Boy, do they ever…!  


A great trick to pull on people is, hold a funeral. Work with the mortician to get hair dye, makeup, and a pretty dress. Even buy underwear and a bra. Let him dress the body up and then, right before the funeral, decide you have to close the casket because her face is literally sliding off to one side. 


You have to have a sense of humor about these things or they will chew at your insides. Me, I feel it in the neck. The carotid, on the right side. That’s where he stabbed her so that she bled out and lost consciousness in under a minute but not before she uttered her last words, which, we’d find out at the trial, were “I’m sorry.”
(Just kidding! I don’t feel anything there anymore.)


This really happened, this part. It all happened, but this is the kind of thing you can’t make up: 


My favorite friend and I are going to the apartment for the first time since it happened. We need to suss out the damage. Get things in order. The doorknobs and countertops are black with fingerprint powder. The sink is filled with knives. The knives are covered in purple Luminol. The power has been off for a week. Flies buzz around the garbage. The fridge is filled with rotting meat and vegetables. I open the freezer and as the smell hits us my favorite friend blurts out, Good God, what died in here?


Two writing teachers walk into a bar. One says, “This is going to be very hard to write. Maybe try fiction for a while.” The other says, “Nobody wants another misery memoir.”


Like impressions? Here’s one of a person who might die without telling the most important story she has to tell because she doesn’t know how to begin.


I shouldn't laugh at that. The fuck is wrong with me? It’s not funny. My mom died like that.


 About the Writer
Split Lip Magazine

Erin McReynolds has had her writing appear in North American Review, Memoir, R.kv.r.y, and others. She is a copywriter by day and an editor at American Short Fiction by night. A native of California, she now lives in New York City.