What belongs to me? What am I allowed to reveal?
I feel safer with fiction. There I can disguise, exaggerate, maneuver people and events into place and have it all make sense. Life isn’t like that. You have to take what you get and it doesn’t always make sense. My mother was a good mother, but on the night I was writing about I didn’t think that. I wanted her to stop drinking; I wanted her to be quiet.
When I read this piece in our writing group I was nervous. I thought, “I am making a mistake.” I was ruining the mother I had been sharing with the others those past months. When I finished reading they were quiet at first. Then Joan said she felt sorry for my mother. Susan found our intimacy touching. They seemed to understand; they did not judge her.
We talked about the writing. I listened, took notes, crossed out words or whole sentences.
But what I really needed to know was this: am I allowed to betray her?