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Mountain’s Teardrop // Faustino Barroso & In a Different Room // Evelyn Williams

Mountain’s Teardrop // Faustino Barroso

Faustino Barroso is a junior from Santa Ana, CA, majoring in Applied Agriculture and Food Studies. At Morningside, he is a part of Camerata.


In a Different Room // Evelyn Williams

             I pull into the driveway, headlights reflect back to me from the porch door. The only light that is on in the house is a lamp in the living room. I park, grab my bag, and make my way to the door. Like I suspect, only my dad is home. I walk in saying, “Hellloooo.”

            I hear the recliner chair go to a sitting position with a clunk and see my dad half jog toward me with a smile as the TV drones on. “Heyy baby, good to see ya!”

            We hug as I tell him it’s good to see him too. “Where’s Mom?” I ask.

            “Oh, she’s still at the office.”

            “Gotchya,” I say. I look around the house while he starts to sit down at the dining room table. He puts his reading glasses on and looks down at the mail while I put my shoes by the door. 

            “How was the drive?” he asks.

            “Uh, not too bad. Icy around Des Moines, but not bad.”

            “Well good, good,” he says.

            I walk to the kitchen and open the fridge looking for something to fill a bored stomach. Compared to when I was younger and my two sisters and I were still living in the house, the fridge is bare with cottage cheese, apples, lots of jam and jellies, and a few containers of unidentifiable leftovers. I close the fridge and sit across from my dad in the dining room. 

            “You know when Mom will be home?” I ask.

            “No, hopefully not too much longer. Last night she fell asleep in her office and came home this morning to change clothes,” he said.

            “Oh, geez. And she went back in today?”

            “Ya,” he said.

I            t is quiet in the house, so I go upstairs to unpack my clothes. When I hear the clunk of the recliner relaxing again, I head down to watch TV with my dad. I don’t want to watch American Pickers for the one hundredth time, but I have absolutely no desire to do homework, so I go and sit on the couch and scroll through Instagram. By 10:40 my dad is snoring in the chair. By 11:13, he goes into his bedroom and I finally switch the TV to Family Guy. I go back to my room at 12. 

            The next morning, I wake to the smell of bacon. When I get to the kitchen there’s no one in sight, the bacon is cold, sitting on a paper plate. Dad must be working today. I was hoping that I could hang out with Mom and Dad today, but Dad seems to always have work to do. I nuke the bacon in the microwave and make some toast. Afterwards, I walk into Mom and Dad’s room. The door squeaks as I open it, but I try to stay quiet as I slide into the bed next to Mom. I put my arm around her and hug her. She’s got her pillow wrapped around her head that’s become a habit to fight the noise of my dad’s snoring. I must have been too loud because she starts stretching her body, slowly unrolling from her blankets.

            “Well good morning sweet baby,” Mom says.

            “Morning,” I say. 

            “How are you?” she asks.

            “Good.”

            “Dad here?”

            “No, his truck is gone,” I say.

            Later in the evening, my dad walks into the house. Mom and I are watching TV as she folds the laundry piled high in the living room. He sits down in the dining room, slowly opening envelopes, reading each one, placing the important ones in a stack separate from the others destined for the trash. Once he is done, he makes his way into the living room, clunking the recliner back. 

            “Honey, can I have the remote?” he asks me.

            I learned pretty quickly when I was younger to just give him the remote. Don’t question it. Don’t argue that you are in the middle of a show. Just give him the remote. Then you don’t have to hear a lecture on how he’s worked all day while you did nothing. It’s just easier that way.

            Mom sighs and goes to the kitchen, giving up on the laundry and beginning the dishes. I go back to looking at my phone. 

            I remember when I was in elementary school my parents were closer. My two sisters, my parents, and I would all get ready early Sunday mornings and go to church. Afterward, we sometimes went to different playgrounds. My sisters would play tag with me. Sometimes my mom and dad would even play with us. I remember one time my dad was playing tag with us girls. He was “it” and we all ran for our lives, easily climbing the jungle gym out of his reach. At one point, he had me trapped in the corner where the only escape was the monkey bars behind him. He tagged me and I squealed laughing. My sisters were far away playing it safe, so I went after him. He turned and jumped off the platform as I reached out. I just barely missed him as he jogged off and hid behind Mom. She laughed as she sat at the picnic table. I ran over and stopped in front, grinning like I had an evil plan. Dad signaled to me, pointing towards Mom and whispering, “Tag Mom!” Well Mom became “it,” and I don’t remember how the game ended, but I can tell you that my sisters were always fast enough to evade being “it” somehow. 

            But as I got into junior high and my sisters were just finishing high school, we went to church only every few weeks. When we did, Dad always said he had work to do. Sometimes he would meet us in town for breakfast afterward, but eventually, Sundays became days with Mom. Things became different in the house. There were fewer family adventures together and more time was spent in quiet company in front of the TV. I started to notice that when Mom did come home from work, Dad rarely said anything. He would look at the TV and eventually would ask what was for supper. I’ve seen him make food; I know he can cook, but he started to put that duty on Mom. And when Mom would be at the dining table, Dad would take a break from the TV to sit down and talk. Mom would hardly glance at him, only responding minimally so she could eat her supper and read the newspaper. 

            That’s what she is doing right now. Dinner tonight is a fend-for-yourself situation. Mom gravitates towards cereal and Dad grumbles and moans until he settles on cottage cheese and Lays chips. It’s Saturday evening. I’m leaving for school again tomorrow morning. I decide to sit beside Mom for a little bit. She doesn’t say much. There must be something of interest happening that she wants to know about from the newspaper. I get up from the seat and head towards the stairs to my bedroom. 

            “Welp, I’m gonna go to bed,” I say. 

            That breaks her focus, and she looks at me. “Already? Ok, good night. I love you.” And she takes a bite of Cheerios. 

            “Good night, Dad,” I say into the other room.

            “Good night, Kiddo,” he replies.         

            As I drive back to school, I can’t help but feel pebbles in my chest beginning to stack up. My mind goes down the rabbit hole, a trap that lays there every time I leave my parent’s house. I want to know if my parents still love each other. Do they ever smile at each other? Now that all three of their kids are out of the house, has it become more apparent to them that they have changed? I try to imagine when they both are actually home, if they sit in the living room and talk to each other, or if it is how I see it when I’m home: complete separation.

            Maybe it’s that idea I’ve heard so much about, that when you become a parent, your love that was once for your significant other is turned completely to your child. They did have three different girls to cater to, to tote along, to drag to different sporting events and coach constantly from the sidelines. Maybe they just got too tired to try giving the other time out of their day. The whole “I have work I need to do,” and then leaving or staying too late at the office is bullshit. Even as a college kid, I know that yes, work can be stressful, but if you cut out your partner, then that stress piles on like a load of laundry. I want to believe that my parents still love each other, or at least have a chance to love each other again. If it is truly impossible, then what hope is there for me when I have kids with my future partner? Will I be sitting at the dining room table eating cereal and reading the newspaper alone while my partner watches TV in a different room?

In a Different Room // Evelyn Williams

Evelyn Williams is a senior from Danville, IA, double majoring in English and religious studies. At Morningside, she is a part of Sigma Tau Delta, Theta Alpha Kappa, Cantabile, and the Kiosk. She has always had an immense joy for writing and reading and plans to keep doing it for years to come. Williams’ recently found the hidden gem genre of Nonfiction and plans to explore that area as long as she has enough room on her bookshelves!

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Mom // Evelyn Williams & Geraldine // Lex Wurth

Mom // Evelyn Williams

“There’s nothing to be afraid of, come with me. Here.” I hold out my open hand to my little girl who looks up at me with wide brown eyes that display fear and worry. She hesitates before taking my hand as we walk up to the small brick building that holds the dull title in blue letters saying, “Miller Funeral Home.” 

I twist the wedding ring on my hand around and around, thinking what it would be like if my husband were actually on a business trip instead of in a different home, sending me divorce papers because he has found someone else to love. I take a deep breath and look down at Daya. Kneeling to the floor so that we are at the same height, I hold her at arm’s length and look her over. She is wearing a pink shirt with a sparkly crown on the front with ‘Mommy’s princess’ written underneath and a purple tutu to match her pink and purple sparkle shoes that have fake gems spotted randomly around. She looks so much like me when I was little, with the same brown eyes, soft cream-colored skin, and brown, thick curly hair. 

I finally say, “Are you ready to go see Grandma?”

She nods and I stand up with my hand clasped in hers. I take small steps so that she can keep up, but I find myself slowing down even more. I’ve been to plenty of funerals, but I never prepared myself for this one. I clench my hand, squeezing Daya’s in three succinct beats: I love you; she does four in return: she loves me too. We turn the corner and walk into a room with a low ceiling and wide walls that hold floral print. Chairs are set in straight, tidy rows with the main entrance forming a lane straight to the focus of the room: the casket holding my mother. I can see from twenty feet away the top of her face and her folded hands on her stomach. Daya starts to pull back, forcing me to stop and break my focus from the casket. 

“Hey, sweet girl. Are you getting nervous?” She hugs my leg, her head burrowed into my thigh and her empty hand gripping the end of my plain maroon dress. I bend over and start to try and calm her by running my hand in a continuous circle on her back. 

“It’s ok to be scared. I’m scared too.”

“You are?” she murmurs, audible only for me to hear.

“Yeah, I am, but the only way to get rid of fear is to face it.” At this, she peaks up at me. Then, with determination, she says, “Ok.”

I kiss her on the forehead then stand up again and face forward. We make our way to the casket, but as I draw closer, my own fear grows from the bottom of my stomach and sinks down to my feet, forcing me to drag them along. We finally reach the casket and I release Daya’s hand and place my hands on the side of the casket, gripping the smooth wooden edges for balance. My eyes fill with tears and they begin to fall on Mom’s plain red dress, her favorite dress. She has on modest makeup – though she vowed never to wear makeup when she was alive – that doesn’t hide her wrinkles. Her faded, pink lips are in a smooth, straight line that hints towards neither a frown nor a smile. I examine her veiny hands, folded neatly in a way only of the dead, right hand over the left, gripping but not too tightly to show any signs of unnatural tenseness, placed intentionally on the upper part of the stomach to display comfort.

I move my right hand from the edge of the casket to right above her hands. Pausing at first, I force my hand to lay on top of hers. The room is increasingly hot, even with the ceiling fan whirring behind me. I keep my hand there, willing myself to accept that she is gone. Her hands are cold, not like she just came from the cooler, but more like she just came inside from a chilly day. She is dead and the casket is shaking slightly because of my quivering hand. I move my eyes to her face again, seeing the wrinkles by her closed eyes that show she smiled too often, and it reminds me of all the times we laughed and cried together.

I remember when I was little, maybe around the same age Daya is now, I was playing on the local playground. It wasn’t anything extraordinary, but to my eyes it was a kingdom that I ruled. I slid down the tube slide a hundred times and I begged my mom, who was sitting on the bench nearby, to come do underdogs with me. I would sit on the swing, and as my mom pushed me from behind to swing higher and higher, I would shriek with delight. When I gained enough momentum she would say, “Ok, are you ready?”

I would scream, “Yeah!” with a big smile taking up my whole face.

We would count, ‘1… 2… 3!’ and then, in unison, yell, “Underdoogggg!” as my mom would push and then run under me as I was at the highest point in the swing, barely able to not fly out of my seat. She would plop down on the wood chips in front of me, sitting cross-legged, watching me swing back and forth until I eventually slowed down to a calmer swinging rhythm. 

One time I ran on up the stairs of the playset, turned a sharp corner, and bolted straight for the monkey bars. As I jumped into the air, leaving the firm platform behind me, I reached for the bars above me feeling as if I was weightless. My fingertips wrapped around the cool bar for only a second before I began to feel myself slipping as gravity started to pull me down. I lost my sweaty grip on the only thing that would save me from the imaginary lava below. I was only able to let out a small squeak as I smacked onto the woodchips and the air went out of my lungs. I laid there in pure shock staring up at the monkey bars that betrayed me until my mom was stooped over me running her hands around my face and my body, asking if I was ok. She knelt down and pulled me into her, wrapping her arms around me tight, and at that moment I broke into tears. I wrapped my short arms around her neck as she stood and then continued to wrap my legs around her. She held me close and swayed back and forth for a long time until my tears had stopped spilling. When I was only hiccupping, she pulled me away from her chest so she could look at me. She stared into my face, looking all around like she was trying to remember every detail. Her eyes were concerned but warm. I looked into her eyes as she smiled slightly and kissed me on the forehead. 

“Come on sweet girl, let’s go home.” At that, I fell back into her chest and she turned to head for home. She carried me all the way home. It was not until I was older that I started to really appreciate how much she had loved me; until I had my sweet Daya I didn’t realize how much it was possible to love someone. I understand my mother now more than I ever have, but it’s too late to tell her that now.

Daya’s tugging on my dress brings back my focus on the grip I have on my mother’s hands. I let go and gaze at my own daughter. She looks clearly frightened, so I bend down and say, “Do you want to see Grandma? She looks very pretty.”

She doesn’t say anything, so I pick her up and place her on my right hip. She wraps her left arm around my neck and holds her right hand close to herself. She whispers, “Is Grandma sleeping?” 

I don’t know what to say. What do you say to a five-year-old who won’t understand what is happening? I finally decide on, “No, Grandma is on her way to Heaven.”

Daya perks up. “Heaven is where angels live!”

I smile. “That’s right Daya, and Grandma is gonna be an angel now. She’s gonna watch over you.”

She smiles and tucks her head under mine, in the crook of my neck. I take one last glance at mom and then head for a chair in the front row. People begin to show up; some I know, most I don’t. All of them approach me and give their condolences. I thank them and wave them off so I can be left in peace, away from their sad eyes and downward smiles. I focus on Daya coloring in the chair beside me.

Before I know it, people are silently filing out of the building. They head off to their own homes and in less time than feels civilized, they’ll forget all about this sad evening because it is easier to forget than to remember and live in the pain. Daya is in my lap at this point; she fell asleep during a piano version of Amazing Grace. I don’t blame her. The pianist made sure to milk every note until everyone was either tired or irritated.

Mr. Miller, the funeral home director, comes and gently places his right hand on my left shoulder. I turn my head and look up to him. He says, “Tonight went very well. I will see you tomorrow for the burial?”

I nod and turn my head back to the casket. Standing up, I grip Daya so she is still snuggled in my arms. I leave the funeral home ready for sleep before I must wake and face the pain of letting go. I drive home to the house I grew up in and the house in which I am now raising Daya. Pulling in my driveway, I see the playground just down the street, lit by a single lamppost that illuminated the bench and the edge of the wood chips. Maybe I’ll take Daya there tomorrow.

Raising my eyes to the rearview mirror, I see Daya still asleep. For a moment I stare back at her and see her not moving and I panic, thinking she’s not breathing. I whip my head around and place my hand on her leg. She’s warm. I shake her leg and speak softly, telling her to wake up. I release a breath when I see her eyes crack open. I let my grip on her leg go and turn back around as she lifts her arms and wipes at her eyes with her small fingers.  I place my head on the steering wheel and close my eyes, trying to blacken my mind and let everything fall to the back of my brain where it can be forgotten. Light tapping noises sound on my window. Its beginning to sprinkle.

I get out of the car, unbuckle Daya out of her car seat and carry her into the house, up the stairs, and into her room. I lay her down on the bed softly and then silently flick on the fairy nightlight in the corner. Her room glows in the soft light. Sparkles from her art projects and presents I have given her dance in the form of a swaying ballet in the yellow light. Glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling above shine happiness. It seems to me a jumbled mess in the morning light, but I have come to fully appreciate its calming beauty in the night.

Daya has fallen back asleep and is curled into a ball on her bed. I unlace her pink and purple sparkly shoes, place them under her bed and cover her with a blanket. I look at her already dreaming and I climb on to the bed with her and curl her into my arms.  

I lie there with my little girl, growing calmer by the minute. Before I fall asleep, I wonder how long it will be before Daya has to say goodbye to me. Will she be middle-aged with her own child? Will she be a teenager? Will I be able to see her grow up to be a beautiful woman? Only one thing is for sure. For right now, in this moment, I can hold her in my arms and smell her sweet shampooed hair as she breathes easy without a care in the world. She is all I need. Tomorrow, I will take her to the playground. I will watch my daughter swing high as my mother did me.

I whisper softly, “I love you Daya Veria, with all my heart.”

Mom // Evelyn Williams

Evelyn Williams is a senior from Danville, IA, double majoring in English and religious studies. At Morningside, she is a part of Sigma Tau Delta, Theta Alpha Kappa, Cantabile, and the Kiosk. She has always had an immense joy for writing and reading and plans to keep doing it for years to come. Williams’ recently found the hidden gem genre of Nonfiction and plans to explore that area as long as she has enough room on her bookshelves!


Geraldine // Lex Wurth

Lex Wurth is a junior from San Antonio, TX, majoring in graphic design. She is on Morningside’s Women’s Swim team, part of the FIWD board, and is an Assistant Art Director for the Kiosk. She has been writing before she knew how to spell and poetry is her favorite form of creative writing. In high school, Wurth participated in many literary events.

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