Tiny Twin Step-Mother by K. G. Wright

Apple falling from sky bright blue cloudless sky image a symbol of gravity pulling
He’s been married before, my ex; now he’s marrying again. I learn her name from my 8-year-old son, Thomas, who arrives from his dad’s one day with an iPad he got from “Nancy.” Then, a text from my ex: Nancy and I are getting married.

Turns out, Nancy is a stage actress who doesn’t have children. She’s not the first. When Thomas was three, my then-husband had an affair with “Kelly,” an erotica literature professor, without children. He left me to marry her. Then he left her to marry Nancy. Are you following? My ex has a thing for childless women with names that end in “y.” As in, why did I marry him? No time to explain. We need to focus on Nancy.

One day, Thomas asks, “Mommy, how much do you weigh?” He’s young, so I allow this line of questioning. Feeling sprightly, I hop onto the bathroom scale.

He shrieks, “One hundred and thirty! Thirty pounds more than Nancy!”

Deep inhale, count to ten, a prayer for my enemies. “Ah, yes,” I exhale. “But Nancy is extremely short.”

Before I can bake Nancy a fat-filled cake, she gets brink-of-death sick. Internal bleeding. The doctors can’t find the blood source—a phantom geyser that keeps on gushing. My ex, at the hospital for a week, calls me on the phone, “Thank you,” he says. Nancy, mumbling from her geyser-coma, tells him to thank me, too. For what? For watching Thomas on his and Nancy’s days.

“Well,” I say, bravely. “No thanks needed. I’m just a mother taking care of her son.”

“Well,” says my ex. “He’s OUR son, so, thank you.”

Does “our” refer to his and mine, or his and Nancy’s?

Nancy survives her inner event. Entering the hospital a dark brunette, she dyes her hair a bright blonde when she gets out. Now, she has a short, manic pixie chick haircut, the same color and cut as my son’s. From behind, they look like identical twins.

My ex buys a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and names it Gwynny, after King Charles’s mistress Nell Gwyn, a stage actress (and, let’s face it, alleged prostitute). At Christmas, he sends me a photo greeting card: My ex wears a Santa suit; Nancy wears a red tunic with bells; Thomas and the dog sport matching antlers.

The card reveals the dark truth: an elf named Nancy and her puppy named-for-a-prostitute want to steal my son.

I pour my fears out to my freakishly buff, middle-aged handyman, who offers to kidnap Gywnny and sell her to a puppy mill. This fantasy, while briefly satisfying, seems extreme. I head to the Berkshires for a silent yoga retreat. I must turn inward.

One free session of silent talk therapy is included with the retreat. A grey-haired woman sits on a grey pillow. She gestures for me to sit next to her on the cold grey floor. She hands me a pad of paper and pencil, puts a finger to her lips, and points to a sign: Write one sentence about your troubles.

A tiny twin step-mother wants to steal my son! I pass my angry scrawl back to Our Lady of the Pillow. She writes back, with eyes closed, as if possessed by a Ouija board spirit. Yes, but she can never be his actual mother, even if you died tomorrow. I don’t like the part about me dying, but her first point is well taken. I tuck the answer inside my left bra cup next to my beating heart.

Pulling into my exes’ driveway the next weekend, I see Nancy walking Gwynny. Suddenly, I feel sorry for her. The dark roots, the child-sized clothing, the hand-me-down husband, and the picking up puppy poo from the lawn. Thomas comes bounding toward me. I am the actual mom in this family drama. Nancy will always be my under-study. She waves to me with the hand that holds the bag of poo. Till death do us part, I think, and wave back.

Meet the Contributor

K.G. Wright’s creative nonfiction and poetry have appeared in Brain, Child Magazine, Literary Mama, The Worcester Review, The Midwest Quarterly, Cold Mountain Review, Amoskeag, among others. She is currently writing a longer work about Mary Ayer Parker, her 8th great grandmother, accused of witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials.

STORY IMAGE CREDIT: Flickr Creative Commons/mfrascella

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