Intercosmic - Chapter 23 - Mommie Dearest

Renan’s mother doesn’t greet us at the door when we arrive. I attempt to introduce myself while she cooked dinner and again she didn’t have time. She isn’t the definition of charming in any culture that I’ve ever experienced. During dinner there wasn’t much conversation, she got my name and introduced herself as Clara. The rest of the empty air was filled with the sound a small blender next to her, pulverizing every piece of food she ate. She explained it as having some illness that prevents her from chewing solid food. She doesn’t seem to care much for Renan, and even less for me. She ignored me but constantly asked how he could leave his mother behind and demanded to know what he was doing. He’d attempt to explain, and she’d just cut him off to talk about how much she struggles when he’s gone. I can’t seem to figure out what is actually wrong with her other than wanting to dominate his attention and probably life.

After dinner, I offer to help with dishes, but Renan insists I relax after the trip. I’m left in the living room with Clara. She flips through channels on the screen, scrolling on her tablet every now and then. Eventually she settles on the Martian Patriot News Network. A small man with thin and balding hair screams and yells about the human population on Mars decreasing for a seventh year in a row, Enka refugees flooding in and pressures from Earth to change various laws. I learn a lot about history just from researching old music and looking up the things mentioned in lyrics. It’s funny how people thought conservative politics were dying at several points through history. Then as humans started colonizing various places beyond Earth, safe havens became possible. Mars was one of the first colonies, and surprisingly became a hotspot that a nuclear winter couldn’t even cool.

“Do you know what the problem is? Why we can’t keep up a steady population,” Clara calmly asks.

“Younger people might not have the funds to start families right now. It’s a cycle that many species in different cultures go through,” I give my best answer.

“No, it’s because we’ve got too many glowls.”

“What?”

“Too many glowls. Not concerned with starting family and being productive members of society. Just a bunch of women wrapping their legs around each other and men sword fighting.”

“You know, some species don’t even have genders,” I try to move the conversation.

“You know the Ardo have over 100 babies at a time.”

“Most of them get eaten by the mothers in fits of post birth rage,” I get the feeling she knows about eating children.

“But they have them. We can raise our babies unlike those beasts.”

“Yeah, but even if everyone devoted their time to having as many kids as possible, we wouldn’t have 100 at a time. We’d also need the government to step in and help provide, but we both know that won’t happen.”

“You’re damn right it won’t happen. People depending on the government are just as bad as the glowls,” Clara pulls a jar of Tomut Jelly. She places a finger in the jar and pulls out a glob before placing it in her mouth. The rats of Tomut produce a thick jelly when panicked, they spray it on their predators to poison them. To humans, it provides a mild high, but can also easily infect mouth wounds. It’s a snack meant for Enka, not humans.

Clara probably fits some traditional beauty standards; her skin wouldn’t be considered too dark or light by anyone, her hair is tied in a neat but basic pony tail and while she wears makeup it isn’t much; just enough to highlight her natural features. Renan had mentioned his mother was sick and I expected someone with a physical impairment, especially after I watched her blend all of her food. Now I’m realizing she’s just not there mentally. I can tell by the way she speaks. It isn’t the conservative politics or slurs that bother me, nothing I haven’t heard before. It’s the way she drags out her words on occasion, hanging on the wrong syllables and directly quoting things that I’m sure she would have heard on the news before. My first guess is that she may have had a drug problem in the past and it fried her brain. My second guess is some kind of stroke, third is PTSD. I give up on guessing because that would make me just as bad as her.

“Are you a glowl Erin.”

“My name is Efrem.”

“My song is a glowl. He won’t tell me. But I know. That’s how he lost his spot in the league,” I don’t know what she’s talking about at this point. “Don’t ruin his life. He can still go places if he fixes himself.”

She drifts off to sleep, and I don’t bother waking her. I’m more enlightened on why Renan was so hesitant to appear as a couple earlier today. I’m just wondering if it was his mother’s doing or if Mars is really that backwards. Either way the entire trip has left a bad taste in my mouth so far. So much of her hatred seems to be focused on Renan without reason even if she doesn’t say it. The biggest cure for her illness would probably be some therapy sessions and staying away from drugs.

“Hey,” Renan appears almost as if he was waiting for her to fall asleep.

“You can take my room, I’ll sleep on the couch.”

“Thanks, but I don’t think I’ll be staying.”

“Why not?”

“Your mother isn’t fond of, glowls, and I’m not fond of her. I’d rather not spend my time hiding from her in her home.”

“Look, I’m all she has left. I’m sure you know what it’s like.”

“You’ve got yourself too, and no. I don’t know what it’s like.”

“So, your parents know you’re gay.”

“My family doesn’t really use terms like straight and gay. I’m from The Moon, and I spent most of my life on Earth. It’s not really a big deal in either of those places. You just do what makes you happy and other people don’t care. They’ve met boyfriends and girlfriends, it wouldn’t be a surprise if you showed up. They’d be more surprised I brought someone.”

“You’re really going to leave?”

“Yeah, you’re welcome to come. It’s not like she wants you here.”

“You just don’t understand.”

“And you’re not eager to help me understand.”

Renan doesn’t put up a fight anymore. Something about this place drains him of any will to fight or confidence he had. He sits with me as I order a hotel and a cab ride. He even held my hand, more for his own sake than mine. Despite being there with me, I know his thoughts were with his mother as he watched her sleep. He barely said anything to me, responding with one-word answers, but he’d jump every time he saw her twitch too much.

“Hey, I’ll call you tomorrow,” Renan says as I load my bag into the cab.

“Alright, take care.”

“I really will call.”

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