Elizabeth Ellen

A man on public radio uses the words interchangeably. It is a mini revelation: your mother and the man who drove her west. You were fifteen. You knew only one word then, the other not yet synonymous.
You went south first: girls whose fathers invented such things as bras for cars, girls who ate whole pies and returned your pants bloodstained, girls whose mouths you never found your way inside of. A year later you followed west. Your pants were three sizes larger and tight in the crotch. Your mother did not care for your attitude. You had to keep tugging and tugging.
Your mother walked around like she owned the place. You became accustomed again to her genitalia. You danced in the living room in the afternoons while they worked. You put in his cassettes and danced to his songs. You wanted him to like you in spite of your loathing. You could hear them fucking all night long.
You slept on a mattress on the floor and rode your bike to the movie theater behind the mall. You sat through every movie twice and the movie with the Russian ballet dancer and Ingrid Bergman's daughter you sat through three times. You sat in air conditioning on Saturday afternoons and read articles on dead movie stars and made color copies to hang on your wall. You put in headphones and listened to Otis Redding. You strapped a boombox to the back of your bike and blasted the Fat Boys and Grandmaster Flash.
Your mother hung school pictures on the fridge. You felt slightly better about yourself whenever you stared at his fat daughter's picture.
On the back of a postcard addressed to your grandfather your mother wrote: Everyone is The three of us are adjusting to the changes in our lives…the only problems any of us have had have been self-created and therefore easy to change.
In the ellipses your mother wrote: but we are all happy and feel very positive about these changes.
You remember your mother finding you cowering in the corner of your bedroom.
"Why are you like this?" she said. "Why don't you want to have a good time?"
The sister of the man who drove your mother west committed suicide in the spring and after that you moved from a two bedroom to a one bedroom and your bike was lost in the move. You put in headphones and listened to Ella Fitzgerald. There was no telephone and no way of calling the police. Your mother reached her hand around, locked your bedroom door from the inside. You put in Madonna. Gonna dress you up with my love. You sprinted to the car in your nightgown. All over your body. All over. All over. Your mother's nakedness still capable of shocking. You waited in the passenger seat. You waited and waited. You didn't learn to drive until you were twenty-two. Somewhere down the line you were given another bike. Run DMC. Walk this Way. You blasted it all over Ohio. You rode and you rode.