Mary Finly

Recent Stories

Published: Nov 18, 2020

At Breakfast

I did not prevent it or spend much time after that night thinking about it. The topic seemed completely overwhelming and avoided it almost entirely. She walked around the house with her shoulders slumped and her back arched, like she was trying to get closer to the ground. She avoided it too, except for one morning.

"Ma," she whispered. I wasn't sure if I had heard anything at all. I was sure when she spoke again, "Momma."

I turned to her, from the stove, where I was making a wet batch of scrambled eggs. They were shiney with butter and dripping with milk.

"I won't ever be the same. Why are you letting this happen?" she said, sounding distant and removed. "I want to keep being me."

"I don't know how to stop it," I said, not sure what I meant. I still don't know what I really meant with those words. Of course I could have stopped it; maybe the truth was that I did not want to prevent. I knew she was broken.

"What if I run away? Will you come for me?" she pleaded.

"I don't know why you would say something like that ... especially at a time like this." I felt emotions growing within, and struggled to hold on. I turned back to the eggs, and growled at her over my shoulder, "You're giving me more reason to think is this is the right thing to do."

I imagined her hurt, but I did not turn to see if it was true. I couldn't hold in my own hurt and tears dripped into the pan and sizzled.

Published: Nov 17, 2020

When Her Father Died

When her father died, I did not process it. I did not help her process it. I was on the verge of a breakdown myself and I kept thinking of my mother's history; what that likely meant for me. I could not do that in front of her. The weakness in our minds carried down through our genes, generation to generation through the women was something I was afraid of. My fear kept me from facing it, and I feel, no I am certain, that forced her toward it. We should have mourned him. We should have gone to his grave over and over and dealt with his leaving little by little. How can I go back?

I can't, can I, go back I mean. There were all these signs along the way that I just ignored. I had hoped she would grow out of it, as the saying goes. But she was growing into it instead. And I'm left blaming myself. What will that do to me; will I become just like her, like my mother, needing some kind of treatment to bring me back to society?

Published: Nov 12, 2020

Her Destruction

Basically I had signed my daughter up for a lobotomy, only new and fresh and wrapped up in new technology. Most of the process was old, but redone with a different method. The results would be roughly the same: remove part of her brain. A hundred years ago, whatever the number, it was considered the best way to fix those who could not handle their own minds. Over time people began to understand what was really happening and turned against the procedure.

History was repeating itself, yet again, only I was wrapped up in it. I didn't know how to help her or cure her of whatever was driving my precious child to depression and despair. I felt angry in that moment that the only choice the doctor had given me was one of destruction. Maybe it was the only way to fix her, I reasoned with myself. I certainly could not bring her back to happiness.

Published: Nov 11, 2020

Researching Treatment

Her father was out of the picture for a long time by then. John would not have let them do it. Of course, she probably would not have been the way she was. I tried on a smile when I was close enough to the car for her to read my face, but I knew it was fake. Worse; I knew she knew I was faking it.

That night I read as much as I could about the laser shavings treatments. For hours, I read perspectives of different doctors and medical centers talking of the benefits and the dangers of this fairly new process. Similar to the shock treatments given to my mother when she was a young woman, but new and precise. I wondered if I had been spared only because of growing up at the right time. The sun was bringing light to the day when I finally slunk off to bed, but I did not sleep. Dreams, or rather nightmares, kept me flipping and rolling.

Published: Nov 10, 2020

It had to be Done

She was crying in the car when I returned to her. I will never forget the look on her face: like I had let her down. But she was broken, and I had no way of knowing what else to do. I had just been in to see her doctor at the time, Stevenson. When I entered the room, her first look was surprise, and it was gone quickly, replaced with terror. She knew in that very moment they were sending her for laser shavings, and I was not going to stop them. That's when I realized she was not afraid, she was furious.

The tears ran down her face in the same line, dragging makeup along her cheeks, like a river carving a course through the Earth. I felt pity and fear, and a whole mess of other emotions rolling through my body. She was broken; I had been raising a broken girl. I knew it for some time with her talk of morbid things and always seeing the dark side of life. But for a long time I had hoped it was some phase she would grow out of.