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Reasons to be Beautiful (standard:other, 6163 words)
Author: Reed AlexanderAdded: Aug 28 2007Views/Reads: 1988/1219Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
a bored housewife and mother finds a herself in startling new ways when a new neighbor moves in next door.

Love hangs herself With the bed sheets in her cell Threw myself on fires
for you 10 good reasons to stay alive 10 good reasons I can't find 

His kiss was like cardboard, or maybe the stuffed animal I used to
practice on when I was twelve. I tried to remember a time when it had 
felt like kissing a man; when it had been animated and meant something. 
His tongue was thick and warm, but it was a foreign object. My body 
warred, wanting to reject it, wanting to embrace it. My mind quite 
simply didn't care. I wondered if the reaction of my body was a 
reproductive response to stimulus, if it was nature's trick in order to 
insure that a reasoning mind's biological imperative to procreate was 
not ignored. I wondered if I had remembered to put fabric softener in 
the last load of laundry. I wondered if I had any bullion cubes tucked 
into a cupboard somewhere; they would add a nice flavor to the rice 
Martha Stewart had assured me was the perfect compliment to the honey 
glazed pork chops I had in the broiler. I wondered if Cruz would be 
home in time for dinner. I wondered if the vegetable was burning. I 
almost missed it when he stopped kissing me. 

He disappeared into the vacuum of the television room and ESPN and I
rescued my peas from immolation to the gods of the open range. Did 
anyone really like peas? Sure, they were edible...but like? I thought 
about it a moment: sad, green, globular orbs. Richard's mother slapped 
hunks of butter on them until they swam in an unattractive, yellowy 
soup. I hadn't used to do that. I also hadn't used to fold socks into 
perfect round balls, fishcakes hadn't always been Thursday's weekly 
fare, and once upon a time I did not know how to crochet. I conceded 
that I had very possibly become Richard's mother...without the sciatic 

"Mom!" the bellow announced my fourteen-year-old son nanoseconds before
his moose-like tread gave him away. I wondered when I had stopped 
thinking of him as a miracle and began thinking of him as a noisy 
stranger who never stopped eating and left his gym socks in abstract 

"Cruz, leave your shoes on the service porch!" I bellowed back. The nice
soccer mom with the eighties perm had given him a ride from practice, 
which meant he probably had yet to discard his cleats. The super secret 
third eye mothers get when their children turn about a year and a half 
provided me the opportunity to see his disgusted huff of a sigh and 
disgruntled eye roll—as if I did not have the chance to see it live and 
in person a good thirty times a day—through the wall behind the 

"What's for dinner?" 

"Pork chops." 

My son's dark, spiked head popped ferret-like out from behind the
doorframe leading into the laundry room/service porch. "Did you make 
rice? Because I've got to have rice, Mom." 

"Yes, I made rice," I rolled my own eyes, not caring if he saw it or
not. The little bastard was in his Asian phase right now. Half-white, 
speaking barely three words of any recognized Asian dialect, the 
closest Cruz came to genuine culture was recently binge eating a lot of 
rice, hanging out with Koreans, Philippinos, a few Japanese kids, and 
reading Honda Tuner with the avid fanaticism of a barely pubescent teen 
who can't even drive yet. 

I served rice and peas for dinner to make both of the men in my life
happy. Cruz could barely eat the rice because of the beef flavoring 
brought by the bullion seasoning; real Asians eat white rice, he 
informed me. Richard was a real Asian, but he ate his peas in carefully 
measured bites; a little butter-soup escaped the confines of his spoon 
and slid down the corner of his mouth. He had French kissed me today. 
Did that mean he wanted sex? 

I cut my pork chop into tiny geometric cubes. It was dry and tough, but
sticky with its honey glaze. That was kind of like sex; not dripping, 
just sticky enough to be moist outside, but stick a fork in me and... 

We had eaten enough. I stood up to gather the plates of the table;
caught a glimpse of the picture we made in the full-length mirror by my 

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