When I was five, she killed my goldfish. Not intentionally. I'd won two fish at the local fair by bouncing ping pong balls into their glass bowls. Later that evening, we went shopping for a proper fish tank, which came with another free fish. I was now the proud parent of three goldfish! The next morning, they were all dead. Floating belly up. My mom had eaten a bunch of grapes and then put the grape vines in the tank for "decoration". She thought they looked pretty. She also thought that when the fish started swimming around like crazy, they were somehow enjoying the grape vines. But they weren't having fun. They were being poisoned, and they died a slow, painful death.
When I was twelve, she murdered my brother's pet snake. This was definitely intentional. It was a gross creature, long and black and smelly, and he kept it in a large tank in his room. One day, somehow, he lost it. He looked everywhere for it and couldn't find it. So he went to work. Later that afternoon, my mom was gardening. A long black snake was writhing in the flowers. She freaked. She grabbed a shovel and killed it. When my brother got home, he saw the snake in the garden. He freaked. All I remember hearing was him yelling, "Oh my God! Someone chopped my snake in half!"
Pet Sematary at the age of ten. You told me I'd like the book because it was about a cat.
You neglected to mention that the cat dies, gets buried in a pet cemetery, and comes back evil.
IT. You said I'd like it because it was about a clown.
You neglected to mention that the clown was evil and murders tons of kids.
Decades later, you read a short story I wrote, the first one I'd written in years. You didn't think my knife worked well as a murder weapon. You suggested an "ancient Chinese cleaver" instead. And it worked – the story was so much better for it.
Your love of the dark and suspenseful has shaped who I am today as a writer. Thank you for always supporting my dreams. Thank you for always being my biggest fan. And thank you for loving what I write... and for never, ever suggesting I write romance (because we both know I'd suck at it).
If you haven't read these already, don't miss out on my mom's pearls of wisdom here:
Her thoughts on the F-word
The importance of learning from other writers, no matter how awful they are
Why used books give you pink eye
An awkward conversation about cameltoe
Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there! What do you love most about your mom?