Flash Fiction Story 063: Dear Mother/Hello Girl

As I’ve continued to write the stories that appear here, I have had the intermittent occasion to bring to light a series of previous unpublished correspondence. In the Mother’s Day spirit, I now bring to you, dear reader, a series of postcards from a still unidentified mother and daughter during the mid-spring of an unknown year, presumably during the first World War. I found them at a garage sale in the town of Uncertain, Texas.

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(The following postcard features an image of the long-since defunct Blessed Sister Mary Margaret O’Callaghan’s School For Ladies Of Substandard Morals. History-minded readers will remember that the School’s demise was a direct result of the Michigan Hobby Horse Scandal of 1942.)

March 1st*,

Dear Mother,

All is well at school. I believe the convent of sisters is doing right by me, and I try to mind them. If you could see fit to send me just a little bit of money. I promise I will not spend it on frivolous things like sweets. I’m all out of heroin and could use a measure more.

Your Daughter

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(This postcard features a black background with a silver script that reads "Slaves, be subject to your masters with all reverence, not only to those who are good and equitable but also to those who are perverse." ~ 1 Peter 2:18)

March 13th,

Hello Girl,

Acknowledging your card sent this past March the first. Unfortunately, no spending money can be forthcoming. The rhubarb harvest has not gone well, Grandfather’s gout has immobilized him entirely, and your brother refuses to stop howling.

Perhaps one of your school chums can lend you opiates until matters improve?

Mother

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(This postcard features a painting of—depending on your perspective—an anthropomorphized carrot and turnip engaged in a sexual act, or enjoying a spring day on a swing.)

April 2nd,

Dear Mother,

The Sisters may be reaching out to you soon, but I must defend myself before they do. While there was some trouble here, I assure you it is over now. The convent has confiscated my collection of pruning shears. I do not think they will allow me to have any other sharp objects until next term.

Has brother’s condition improved?

Your Daughter

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(This postcard appears to be from the same Biblical series and features a different passage. “He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord.” ~ Deuteronomy 23:1)

April 29th,

Hello Girl,

Acknowledging receipt of your letter from April the second. You have shamed me. Those pruning shears have been in our family since the beginning. I would say that they are your inheritance, but from where I am sitting, you have been far too wicked for any kind of a birthright.

Your brother is very poor indeed. The howling has stopped, but he appears to be insensate and spends all day in the fields. The crows are beside themselves.

Mother

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(This postcard features a colorized photograph of a cherubic infant posing next to a dark black creature.)

May 19th

Dear Mother,

You have ruined my life by putting me in this prison of a school. You have ruined brother’s life by feeding him the water downhill from the outhouse. 

You take refuge in God, but that is only because everything you’ve ever done is wrong.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Your Daughter

***

(The sudden termination of the correspondence, what happened in the intervening months, and the fates of either writer remain unknown. This final postcard is similar to the others sent by the mother and features one final scripture passage. “When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again." ~ Exodus 21:7-8.)

July 19th,

To the Sisters of the O’Callaghan School,

Please dispose of any personal effects that belonged to my daughter. No one will be available to retrieve them. Thank you for your valiant attempts to set her straight.

Her Mother





*Neither of the authors of the postcards offered a year. One can attribute the omission to the supposition that neither writer imagined their messages would be saved for posterity.

Art by Eris O’Reilly

Art by Eris O’Reilly