They take it away from you, the men


I laughed. My mother and her albums. She had been eighteen in 1977, and already dating my father. They had bonded over music: the Eagles, Elton John, Queen, David Bowie. My mother’s parents didn’t allow her to listen to any of it. My father was two years older and had been on his own since he was seventeen. My mom kept the albums and the turntable. She loved Stevie Nicks, had all her solo albums, and had taken Shay and me to a concert in 1998. I remembered so many women in black chiffon finery, top hats, and crescent moon necklaces, the feeling of being safe in the midst of the crowd, singing along with the songs I had heard over and over at night from the record player in the hallway, the blonde goddess in her glittering shawls. My mother gave me a fairy ragdoll that she had spent three months sewing at night. It had black hair, blue eyes, and blue wings. She pushed me through the crowd to the front of the stage, with Shay hanging onto her arm, between the security guards, and I held out the doll, and the goddess took it from me, and her fingertips brushed mine, and a couple of pieces of black and gold fringe caught in my charm bracelet. The goddess didn’t seem to notice, or maybe it was as if she had gifted me strands of her sparkling hair in exchange for the doll.

I kept the fringes of her shawl in my jewelry box that had a twirling plastic fairy instead of a twirling plastic ballerina.

“I wish you still played the albums,” I said. The turntable was on a wooden cabinet in the hallway. My bed was a few feet from the hallway door.

“Me too,” my mother said. “They take it away from you, the men.”


“The music. You tie it up in your mind with them and they go and the music is in a knot.”

I tucked my mother into bed, and went to my bed, and put a Stevie Nicks cassette into my tape player, and I fell asleep with my headphones on so Shay wouldn’t bitch.


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