Secret Life of Parents, 1962
By Tom Whalen
My brother and I, age sixteen and fourteen respectively, are
plundering the drawers in our parents' bedroom for money or the spare
car keys or some artifact of our past (report cards, baby shoes, photos)
offering whatever confirmation at that moment we felt we needed, when
in the bottom drawer on my father's side of their dresser, beneath a
stack of sleeveless t-shirts and his Smith & Wesson, I uncover a
Polaroid of our mother nude.
"Look at this, Chuck," I say, handing it to him.
But we don't look for long. A black-and-white mid-shot against the same
bedroom wall that's to our immediate left. She stands in an aggressive
slouch, glares back at the camera, her breasts sagging (she's forty-three),
her face an extremity of disgust.
"He took this of her."
"She let him," I say, staring at the sharp shock of her pubic
hair, then put the photo back where we found it.
Whalen has published nonfiction in The Missouri Review, Under
Bayou, and stories in Ploughshares, The Quarterly,
The Iowa Review, Quarterly
West, and other journals. Recent work has appeared in Northwest
Idaho Review, Hayden's Ferry Review, AGNI (on-line)
and Fiction International. He
lives in Stuttgart, Germany.