Motherhood by J. Bradley

My boys have been good to me, finally, but not as good as I want them to be. They never listen to me when it comes to letting me leave the house. I promise over and over and over and over again to stay away from birds and children but then they show me where I last touched them, splotches of skin colored in burnt beef jerky.

The body they have made for me so I can leave the house is bulky. I look at it in the mirror and wonder if this is how they saw me when I had my original body. The trenchcoat making out the skin is ugly, not the floral prints I used to wear year round, bring summer even to winter. I ask them again and again to make this body closer to mine, at least in the hips, but they remind me about the birds and children and mothers and fathers I could eat away if I escaped.

Before all this, my boys were disappointments, anchored to bottles and girls not worth ever bringing home. Sometimes, I can tell they feel like I planned this when I catch their frustration of me being an anchor. You can let me go at any time, I say when they look at me like this but I know they won’t; they’re good boys.

J. Bradley is a two time winner of Wigleaf’s Top 50 (Very) Short Fictions. He’s the author of Neil & Other Stories (WhiskeyTit Books, 2018). He lives at

Image: Alphacolor 13