Family of Me

by Daphne
Updates Mondays and Fridays

Scene 131: Daughters and Masks

(Bloom and Kay sit at home facing each other across a table, each staring appraisingly at a fan of cards in their hands. Between them sits a board cluttered with various figures and tokens. Bloom lifts a hand and opens her mouth to speak, but then thinks better of whatever she was planning and goes back to contemplating. I arrive and wait patiently nearby, watching the two of them play.)

Kay (The Friend): It’s your turn, you know.

Bloom (The Survivor): I’m aware.

Kay: I’m just saying, because it’s been about ten minutes…

Bloom (annoyed): I’m thinking, Kay.

Kay: I’m not sure what there is to think about, but sure.

Bloom: If this is so simple for you, why don’t we switch sides?

Kay: Goodness no. I don’t see a way out of this mess you’re in.

Bloom (exasperated): Neither do I. Fine, I concede! You win.

Kay: Excellent! Thanks for the game, sis.

(Kay smiles and extends an arm across the board to her sister. Bloom takes it and gives a gentle shake.)

Bloom: Thanks for the game. Let’s play something a little lighter next time.

Kay: Sure, I’m down.

(Now that her attention isn’t consumed by the game, Bloom notices me nearby and turns to address me.)

Bloom: Hey Mom! Nice collection you have here.

Mom (Me): Thanks! I think every game I’ve ever played is in this room somewhere… Though I’m not sure they all still have the rules in their boxes.

Kay: It’s always nice to see you, but I’m surprised you aren’t talking with Twyla.

Mom: I have been. It’s been a journey reliving some of those days… They really weren’t that long ago, but they still feel like they happened to someone else. I suppose they did in a way… Those are Twyla’s memories.

Kay: And yours, of course. Just like you have my memories, and Bloom’s, and all of ours.

Mom: Yes, but with your memories I’m looking back on things that happened decades ago. With Twyla it’s only been a few years… It’s remarkable that a person can change that fast.

Bloom: I mean, we’re all about five years apart, aren’t we? I guess that’s the usual pace, at least for us.

Mom (contemplative): Hm, maybe so.

(Bloom waits a moment for me to continue, but when it’s clear no further explanation is forthcoming, she changes the subject.)

Bloom: So since you aren’t talking with Twyla today, you decided to stop in on us instead?

Mom (bright): I did, yeah! I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve checked in on you two. How have you been?

Kay: We’ve been fine, Mom. It’s nice having a home to come back to, and it still feels really great to experience life again, albeit secondhand through you.

Bloom: It’s really nice to have space of our own to exist in too. Thanks for building this house for us, Mom.

Mom: You’re welcome, Bloom.

Bloom: Though even before you built this house, our life in the headspace was still much better than things were before you started the series. Back then it felt like the only time I ever got to connect to the world was when you were in crisis… So I was always in crisis, which was tough. I like our arrangement now a lot better.

Mom (timid): I do too, Bloom. Thank goodness things have changed between us. Speaking of which, are you two finding yourselves stressed the way you used to?

Bloom: I mean… Stress is inevitable, right? Sometimes things happen that make us feel like a helpless little girl again, and I find myself just trying to survive the day. But as soon as you notice that I’m struggling, you’re right there with me, talking me through my challenging feelings. The technique that started this whole series still works as well as ever.

Mom: You aren’t tempted to slip your old mask back on again?

Bloom: Oh gosh, Mom. I haven’t worn that thing in forever. I don’t want to go back to thinking of myself as that little boy who screws everything up… I hated dealing with that dysphoria.

Kay: Though you still beat yourself up from time to time.

Bloom (annoyed): So do you! We all do, honestly. Even Mom.

Mom (worn): Especially Mom. It’s still pretty easy for me to beat myself up over things from time to time. I’m not sure if we’ll ever stop doing that.

Kay (encouraging): You’re getting better at avoiding it!

Mom (skeptical): Am I though?

Kay (hesitant): Well… You’re getting better at spotting it, at least. That’s something, isn’t it?

Mom: I suppose it is. What about your mask, Kay?

Kay: I can’t remember the last time I wore my mask either. Though to be fair, we don’t really keep in touch with the people you wore it around anymore.

Mom: That’s a good point. I suppose you’re not under much pressure to put it on anymore, are you?

Kay: I don’t think I’d want to anyways. I wore that mask in order to blend in with people around me, and I suppose I still feel the need to blend sometimes, but not as often as I used to. Now we have our own self-image that we’re more than happy to present.

Mom (smiling): That’s good. I’m really glad to hear that.

Bloom: What about the other masks?

Mom: What do you mean?

Bloom: I mean Kay and I had masks that you helped us with… Aura did too.

Mom: I think Aura’s is a little more complicated, but it’s something we’ve been working on together.

Bloom: So what about Ivy or Twyla? And what about Lark? She might be a little unlike the rest of us, but I’ll bet she has one too.

Mom: What makes you say that? Just because you had to deal with a mask doesn’t mean she has to.

Bloom (assured): I… I think it does, actually. Our brain kind of feels like she prefers structure like that. Or maybe she imposes structure like that. Everything needs to feel symmetrical; well-ordered.

Mom (thoughtful): Huh… There’s something to that idea, isn’t there?

Kay: I feel the same way, so probably, yeah.

Mom: That sounds like something worth keeping an eye out for… Though I think helping Twyla through her difficulty with motherhood is a higher priority right now.

Kay: Oh, absolutely. The sooner we can become a complete and happy family, the better.

Mom: Agreed. I’m glad I came to check on you two.

Bloom (happy): We’re glad too! It’s always nice to have you around.

Kay: What do you have planned for the rest of the day?

Mom: I don’t have anything in mind… Would you two mind trying a three-player game?

Bloom (grinning): You’re on Mom! I have just the game in mind…

(Bloom darts over to the game shelf as I settle into a seat at the table.)