Sleeping Mother

by Jeff Friedman

Jeff Friedman

One night at dinner, mother passed out at the table while holding her fork. The fork dropped to the floor with some greens on it. We got up, but father held out his hand to stop us. “Let her sleep,” he said. Though she snored and took great gulps of breath, eventually slipping from her chair, we continued to eat our dinner. When father finished his meal, we helped him get her to bed. “I’ll take care of the rest,” he said. We cleaned up the kitchen and went back to our room. The next day, father hushed us. “She’s still sleeping,” he said. For weeks the house was silent.
During the day, my father drove to work, and we took the bus to school. At night, we gathered in the bedroom, each of us kissing her. “Call the doctor,” we said. “She wouldn’t want that,” father answered. “When it’s time, she’ll wake up.” She looked so sweet beneath the covers, smiling after each kiss, her anger gone—her face bright and smooth as if she had shed years in her sleep.

Last updated September 19, 2022